Season 1, Episode 4: The Boonies

Welcome back to the 2012 SCA CWPP Team Blog. There has been a lot happening since our last update after the conclusion of District 12 exactly two months ago. We got off to a great start in District 2 (D2) with Alleghany County. For this district each member of the team would act as the county leader whose responsibilities included organizing the schedule, delegating tasks, and contacting the NCFS county ranger. We started with a meeting with district rangers Brent Triplett and Hunter Birckhead to talk about our approach and schedule for tackling the D2 CWPPs. First, Alex led Alleghany County and worked with County Ranger, Brandon Keener, who was extremely helpful getting us data and setting up interviews. After we finished entering the data and making the maps, we prepared for an overnight camping trip to complete the second interviews in one trip and get some outdoor time at the New River Campground. Next, Clare was in charge of Wilkes County and had the pleasure of working with County Ranger, Michael Crouse. He had done more individual work on the CWPPs than any other ranger and was very knowledgeable yet had a ‘my way or the highway’ type attitude during the first interview. After the interview, we discussed our different methods and found a middle ground that we both agreed would work. The highlight of CWPPs in Wilkes County was a barbeque chicken dinner at Pleasant Hill Volunteer Fire Department. It was a pleasant surprise indeed! Midway through work in Wilkes, we had the opportunity to do public outreach tabling at the Mountain State Fair in Buncombe County to spread awareness of the Student Conservation Association and our project with the North Carolina Forest Service. We gave out information to over 350 people and Clare got to be the voice of a 30-foot inflatable Smokey Bear! After the State Fair, we took our S-130/S-190: Wildland Fire Fighting written test. We all passed the written test and were one step closer to becoming Wildland Firefighter Certified! Halfway through September we started Ashe County. Jenna was the County Leader working with Ranger, Anthony Farmer. He was a good ole country boy that did it all from ranching cattle to fighting fire. He kept the work mood light and told us funny stories about the other rangers growing up. We powered through the county just as we had done with Alleghany and Wilkes since we were on a roll from the experience we had gained in D12. Before starting the last county, we took a recreation trip to Cades Cove in the Great Smokey Mountains, TN. We took a nice hike out to Abraham’s Falls and were warned by many groups that there was bears sighted in the area, but did not get to see any unfortunately. The next day we enjoyed an 11-mile bike ride on the loop. The views were amazing and the historic sites along the way were remarkable. The day after returning from TN, Jenna, Mike, and Clare went on Wildland fire training with D3 and D2 of the NCFS. The three helped construct fire lines and ended the day with grilling steaks with some of their favorite forest rangers. Moving into Watauga, our last county, Mike took the reins as County Leader working with Brent Triplett. Watauga had been without a County Ranger until recently so Brent took it upon himself to aid us with our interviews and data. We decided to conduct all the interviews and assessments in one fell swoop and planned a four-day, three-night camping trip. We split up into different groups each day to switch up who would work on interviews and database work so the routine was not repetitive. Unfortunately, the weather was an issue the first night with rain and the last night with cold. We did get to enjoy one night of camping at the Julian Price Campground. We also went out to celebrate being done with interviews and assessments at the end of the hitch, enjoying good food and great company at a local Boone restaurant. At this venture of our journey, we are starting to wrap things up on the work end. We are spending the week in the office finishing up Watauga and planning our second interviews for Ashe county. With the season coming to a close, we have also started writing our final report. Our goal is to finish the final draft by the second of November to have a week and a half to clean up our apartment and say farewell to our agency partners and each other. Finally, we are hoping to invite the people we’ve worked with to a barbeque to celebrate and thank them for helping us throughout the project. Last night we decided that it could be catered by Fat Boys of Mooresville, where we really got our project rolling once Danny B introduced us to the $5 all-you-can-eat BBQ lunch buffet. It would be a fitting end to an enjoyable and rewarding project!

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