We spent the last 10 days in both the dome wilderness and on the Spence hot springs trail. We cleared over two miles of corridor on the St Peter's Dome trail. In the area of Spence Springs the crew completed a turnpike,a very large water bar and two retaining walls comprising in total of over 35 rocks. We also worked with the New Mexico YCC out of the Jemez Valley area. We started rock stair cases that they will finish. Over all it was a great hitch and we are very happy with our work and enjoyed sharing the worksite with YCC.
Education/ outreach 1 day
Check steps 13
Check Dams 22
Drainage dips installed 2
Dirt moved 55 bags
This hitch we took on new trails and different types of projects. Despite a cruddy cough mid summer funk that hit the group, everyone took great care of themselves and performed at an amazing level. The projects consisted of lifting, carrying, and strategically placing many locust logs and bags of mineral soil! No one in this group needs a gym! We are getting svelte and strong the good old fashion way!
We started off our hitch in Big Fat Gap. This location has 4 trails that branch out from… you guessed it a “Big Fat” gap. Both sides of this gap are very steep and are washing out. We decided the best way to hold back the bank was with locust timber stairs. That way it will be easier for the public to walk up the hill, and the hill will become stabilized by the logs holding back the soil. This was a fun project for all and gave us something different to accomplish other than the typical brushing and digging drainage dips.
Alex came to visit the group from Boise and we attended a great event in Asheville! The Americas Great Outdoors listening sessions was an awesome opportunity for the group to get the word out about what we are doing, and for the group to hear about other great outdoor achievements and ideas that are happening in Western NC. We celebrated our half way point this week and everyone agrees that the time is flying! We have accomplished so much and it is excellent to see all the transformations we have put into Joyce Kilmer coming together.
The second half of the hitch was spent on the Stratton Bald trail. This is a fall line trail that is heavily eroded. One could mistake this trail as a stream bed! The best solution to this trail was to place many check dams to eventually build the trail soils back up. In a few days the trail really started to transform. We have started the reversal of some erosion that took many years to develop. This whole process will take a few years to fully restore, but eventually the soils will build and walking the trail will be more enjoyable.
There was a ton of signs of Russian Boars on this trail and they are really tearing things up! They have been grubbing the sides of the trail creating a nice trench down each side. We will have our hands full when we start the deberming in this area! We need to teach those boars how to dig trails their technique is all wrong!
Since the last time...Emma and Chris have flown in the Smokey Bear Hot Air Balloon...The crew met with the forest ecologist and the fire ecologist to discuss the current state of affairs in Dixie and Fishlake and to get the bigger picture as to why fire monitoring is important...Andrew was deployed to fight fire with a Color Country squad...The crew went to a risk management talk / stand-up comic routine by Gordon Graham...SCA and Dixie NF celebrated their 50 year working relationship with a picnic and service project...the crew worked in the beautiful aspen groves of Fife Ridge, overlooking Zion NP...and 85 additional plots were remonitored or created.
It has been a busy / fun / productive month!
Looking to the future, the crew will be heading to the Fishlake National Forest for several weeks of plot work. These will be the first Fishlake plots this season.
Well, another hitch completed for the Alleghany Highlands crew. We rolled right through our two month anniversary without much celebration, which I take as a sign that folks are not itching too bad to get out of here. Camp chores and trail work seem to be going smoother with each week as we learn more and more… and more about each other and how to work together. And none too soon, as this week posed some new challenges to us. We completed the eight foot rock wall we began last hitch, broke through the much anticipated “mini boulder field”, endured almost daily thunderstorms, and still managed to complete 250 feet of tread with an additional 140 feet near completion.
Our work up until the past week has consisted of cutting 24 inches of tread into leaves, roots, dirt and smaller rocks using picks, hoes and rakes. This week we forged into new territory as we dealt mainly with very large rocks. We moved and set stones for the first several days of our hitch to complete a three-tier rock wall. The wall allows the tread to skirt a large tree, rather than cutting through its main roots. We then brought our trail further down the mountain and through a boulder field we had been eagerly awaiting for the change of pace it brought. We used sledges, picks, and rock bars (indestructible 18 lb. pry bars) to break a path through the rocks.
We were all amazed at how much we are able to do with a few tools and good teamwork. Rock work is new to all of us. Before this hitch, I never would have thought we could have moved rocks of such size with a few people and a couple of tools. These mountains are still standing, 250 million years after they were formed – some of the oldest in the world. It is a powerful feeling to be able move rocks off a hillside that have taken millions of years to get there. With aching bodies and soggy gear, we are ready for this break more so than ever. But I can’t wait to walk across a trail of gravel and dirt where boulders once lay. What are we looking forward to next hitch? An even bigger boulder field.
Another long work week has passed, this time it just so happened that we worked alongside the railroad tracks.
Our main site this week was at Station Road near the Brecksville Train Stop along the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway. The goal was to remove as much of the non-native invasive species from the site near the parking lots, in forested areas on either side of the railway tracks and also along the towpath.
Each day the train cars passed by our site several times and we got to listen to the horn up close and personal each time.
Noise aside our team was able to complete over 10 acres of work and remove hundreds of non-native plants such as autumn olive, bush honeysuckle, Japanese barberry, privet and multiflora rose.
This week we also spent time scouting sites and coming up with management and treatment strategies for those sites.
Highlight of the week: Our chainsaws arrived so we were able to finally cut down some of the larger woody shrubs that a handsaw could not cut through.
Hope everyone is staying hydrated during these hot days and that you are all enjoying your projects.
CVNP SCA Native Plants Team