May 18 - November 4 Project Leader: Anna Hendricks Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: (208) 608-6325
To wrap up the season in style, the team traveled to the lovely land of Escalante. Surrounded by an amazing landscape, the team enjoyed relatively “easy” plots after the arduous hikes of Twitchell Canyon. With all the team plot work for the season complete, they took the long way home along Hell’s Backbone road for some truly spectacular views.
On Friday Doug and Anna were joined in the field by international Dixie NF volunteer, Carolina Barros Godinho. They headed to wrap up plots in the Sunset North burn area which were truly the last plots of the season. Although the weather was pleasant albeit a bit cold in the morning, they were all surprised to find themselves walking through snow! It melts much slower on those north facing slopes in the high country. But they trucked on, counting the last of the Utah Junipers and Pinyon Pines for the year.
With plot work complete, they headed to the office to focus on site closeout. Tasks for the last week of work included: ensuring all data is entered correctly and thoroughly, ensuring all photos are uploaded and properly named, and composing a final report summarizing the season.
In addition, the team is grateful for the opportunity to be attending the Interior West Fire Ecology Conference November 11-14 in Snowbird Utah. This provides not only a great opportunity to network with ecologists from many different agencies but also a chance to promote SCA fire programs. The team has been working hard on a poster to showcase the work accomplished in Dixie and Fishlake.
For more information about the conference visit: http://humboldt.edu/iwfire/
Early in October the team geared up to once again head to the Twitchell Canyon plots in the Beaver Ranger District of Fishlake. Impending thunderstorms however made retreat on the dirt forest service road possibly impassable, a risk they were just not willing to take. So they headed to the Powel Ranger District to the Bluefly plots allowing for the luxury of returning home each evening. However, by the end of the week the team was shocked to be pushed out of the field by snow so early in October! As temperatures dropped and wind increased the team was forced to retreat to the bunkhouse. Data days thus ensued. Although not terribly exciting, getting caught up on data entry is indeed terribly important.
Fortunately the sun did not retreat for too long and soon the team was back out in the field. Feeling reenergized and optimistic, they returned to tackle the Twitchell plots. Much to their dismay the sun had just not been out for long enough and snow lingered throughout the canyon. Once again defeated, they returned to the Powel Ranger District to begin a new project in John’s Valley. They bid Michael farewell and good luck as he headed to Colorado Fire Camp for Firefighter Type II training. He recalls his journey below:
“I left for fire school in Salida CO, on Wednesday. There I was trained in the noble art of wildland firefighting. In the classroom, we were taught the basic idea and theory of firefighting, and fire suppression tactics. Once outside, we would put what we were taught in class into practice. We learned how to deploy our fire shelter, and when doing so was appropriate. We got to do a small prescribed burn, learning to use drip torches, and fusees effectively and safely. Finally, the class dug a fireline, employing the cup-trench and scratch-and-go techniques of digging line. On Sunday, we took the pack test, walking 3 miles in 45 minutes carrying 45lbs. The Colorado Fire Camp was a fantastic experience, and has opened up the opportunity or firefighting for me. I highly recommend it to anyone who might be interested in fire.”
Laura took a few well-earned days to spend with her folks. With two of their compadres gone, Doug and Anna headed to John’s Valley on some truly harrowing roads. But with perseverance, they returned unscathed and were able to wrap up the whole project just between the two of them.
Reunited and still optimistic, the team traveled yet again to Twitchell Canyon… with success! The consistently sunny days managed to melt all the snow except for the highest of peaks. Hiking was truly challenging over extremely steep slopes and long distances to far away plots. The Twitchell Canyon fire burned 44,000 acres last year and is a very important area for Fishlake National Forest fire ecologists to continue to monitor as life regenerates. They all felt a great sense of accomplishment for making the arduous journey to some very important plots.
Whew it’s hard to believe it is already fall. September has proved to be a busy month for the Dixie FIREMON team! After such arduous plots in Salina Creek, the team was very excited for well earned rest and relaxation… or so we thought. Doug and Anna enjoyed a mere 2 days off before being called on a fire detail with the Tushar Mountain Wildland Fire Module. Above and beyond the SCA call of duty, they found themselves whisked away to the wilderness of Wyoming right in the heart of grizzly country. Although it left them with plot-time to be made up upon return, they gained valuable experience in many areas of a managed fire including backburning, spinning weather, and smoke observations. In addition they spent some time on the trail utilizing their chainsaw training and learning the ways of the crosscut. They returned a bit wearier but a bit wiser to the ways of fire.
Meanwhile in the lovely state of Utah, Laura and Michael pushed onward. Not detoured a bit by their absent comrades, they headed into the backcountry of the Pine Valley District of Dixie NF. In one fowl swoop they completed all plots in Mill Flat as well as all photo plots in Santa Clara. They then moved ahead to begin tackling Blue Fly plots in the Powell District.
The team reunited in the higher elevations of Escalante with a site visit from program coordinator Mike Stefancic. Mike learned all about monitoring in Dixie as well as shared some of his knowledge from fire monitoring in other regions. Plot work varied from pleasant Ponderosa Pines to dense Aspen stands. Despite any challenges, the views proved spectacular. We will truly miss this landscape.
However, the turning of the Aspen leaves signals to all that it is indeed fall and our time here is short. Up next, the team heads to Twitchell Canyon.
Our most recent account of field life comes from corps member Michael Freddy:
This week on hitch, the crew got to experience the beautiful (if rugged) Salina Creek in Fishlake National Forest. We started off from the Duck Creek Bunkhouse on Monday, and settled into the Gooseberry Campground, after discovering that the road to our originally intended campground was a slick-as-snot clay road. Our first day of plots was also some of the most rigorous hiking we have embarked on this season. “There is jungle in Utah, and we found it,” says Project Leader Anna Hendricks, after spending her day fighting through rose and mountain mahogany well above her head. We regrettably had to spend the majority of the hitch in such terrain, combined with some of the longest hikes this season. These adventures, combined with such obstacles as hornets’ nests and cacti, made for a grueling week. Finally, on Saturday, we worked in a different area that was infinitely nicer than other parts of the Salina creek unit. The open spaces and fantastically beautiful views significantly boosted the team’s spirit. Overall, even though the week began with super difficult hiking and plots, the week was a success. We got the Salina Creek plots done, and bonded over our shared experiences. We grew as a team, and had more than a few laughs while doing it.
This hitch took the team to the Fillmore District of Fishlake National Forest. We set up camp at the lovely Maple Grove campground next to a bubbling creek at the base of red cliffs. We then hit the field in the Sawmill wildfire area. Plots were pleasant enough despite difficulties finding access roads through private land.
Day two was a bit more of a brutal hike in the Amos wildfire area. Steep slopes over uneven terrain proved challenging for both groups. Things took a turn as Michael had increasing trouble breathing and a trip to the hospital revealed an unfortunate case of pneumonia.
Fortunate for us, agency contact and fire ecologist Linda Chappell graciously opened up her house to the team providing a comfortable place for Michael to rest as the team headed back into the field. Everyone greatly enjoyed the extra time spent with Linda, her dogs, Jett and Diablo, as well as Gato the cat. Linda is truly a wealth of information in regards to land management and dutch oven cooking.
Plots remained steep but rewarding with amazing views. Due to the shortage of folks and rugged terrain we wrapped up the Sawmill area but have unfinished business in Amos. We will thus be returning to the area this fall.
The team headed back to base out of good ole Duck Creek bunkhouse for the remainder of the hitch and delved into the School Wash preburn area. Plots went by a bit more quickly despite the many Ponderosa Pines to count. Returning home each evening was quite the luxury. Michael is on his way to a full recovery and excited to rejoin the team in the field next hitch.
Our team is now complete! Michael “Fred” made the long haul from Athens, Ohio to join us just in time for our upcoming hitch. As Michael is already skilled in the ways of FIREMON plots, he was able to jump right into data collection. He is thrilled to be exploring a new and vaster area than previous work in Ohio. Doug is happy to have a fellow corps member and roommate at the bunkhouse.
Our first “real” hitch took us to the Fremont District of Dixie National Forest. All members were awed by the views from 10,000 feet overlooking Capital Reef National Park and the Henry Mountains beyond. Temperatures remained cool keeping spirits high and the plot work flying by. The team completed all 20 plots in the Solomon Basin wildfire burn area in three days time. We thus wrapped up our hitch returning to the Powel Ranger District in Dixie and the Bridge wildfire area. Everyone felt a great sense of accomplishment as we were able to wrap up the Bridge area as well.
Brian Doughty, SCA Plant and Fire Program Manager, met the team at camp and was happy to hit the field to learn all about data collection in Utah. He joined us for three days in the field. A lovely team dinner at the Pine Woods Dinner House in Duck Creek was enjoyed by all. Due to an unfortunate turn of events, pictures verifying Brian’s help with the team were lost. All we will have are the wonderful memories of chicken jalapeño sausage burritos, crispy cookies, and eating summer sausage while hiding in the trees to remember him by.
Things to know about me, I suppose, are far too many, and varied to be but in a short synopsis of myself. However I will attempt to cover the basics. My name is Michael Young, though I have been known by other names, and I am 19 years old. As far as school goes, I graduated from Athens High School, then decided to take a year off to figure out what I wanted to do. So I participated in an SCA internship in Athens and, upon completing said internship, decided I wanted to study Forestry. I then spent several months in Washington D.C. learning about carpentry, and building and such. After that, I spent some time in Athens working odd jobs, waiting until I felt ready to go back to school. I heard about the opening in Utah through Anna Hendricks, my previous and current Project Leader, and was totally psyched. After this summer long internship, I plan on attending Hocking College to study Forestry.
After weeks of training and introductions the team of three, including the Forest Service lesion Laura Peterson, has finally gotten out into the field for the first plots of the season! Despite the slow start and a minor setback because of the loss of a corps member, the team hit the ground running. Traveling anywhere in SW Utah takes lots of time, therefore, the team has been spending nights at the Dave’s Hollow Guard Station in order to cut down time wasted traveling. The team has been enjoying the seclusion and proximity to their work sites the guard station provides despite the bugs and lack of running water from time to time.
When the team needed a break from plots they had the opportunity to go on field trips with some of the forest’s specialists.
Keith Gustafson, the Powel District forester, was able to spend an afternoon showing the team what his job involves and also provided help with identifying trees. Keith is a very entertaining guide and really improved the team’s understanding of the relations between the different divisions of the Forest Service, such as the timber and fire programs.
One other trip was taken with the archeologist out of the Cedar Ranger District, Marian “Omar” Jacklin. Omar took the team to some awesome cultural sites such as the Parowan Gap, Old Iron Town, dinosaur tracks, and other petroglyph sites. The walls of the Parowan Gap are covered with archaic, post-archaic, and semi-modern petroglyphs. The most famous of the petroglyphs was the “zipper” which depicts the sun’s movement through the gap over the year. The crew’s visit happened to fall on the summer solstice when the sun was to set right down the middle of the gap exhibiting a brilliant sunset. Omar was an awesome guide and plans to take the team on more field trips later on in the season.
The other specialist the team had the opportunity to visit was the Dixie and Fish Lake Botanist, Mark Madsen. Mark and his seasonal, John, took the team around the Powel District to help identify many of the unknown annuals and shrubs at all different elevations. Mark explained what his job required of him and why his studies are useful to the forest.
At the end of the team’s first four day hitch they had the opportunity to help with the Smokey Bear balloon at the Panguitch Balloon Festival. The team was disappointed on their first day of the Balloon Festival because “high” winds postponed Smokey’s maiden flight of the weekend. On Saturday Smokey finally got to fly as the SCAs were part of his chase team. Bill, Smokey’s pilot, landed in a field of freshly sprayed hay which was not amusing to the field’s owner to say the least. Saturday night was the Panguitch balloon glow where all the balloons lined the main street at dusk showing a brilliant display of colors and lights. Sunday, Anna got to go up in Smokey after beating Doug in a fierce rock paper scissors game. Julia Sittig, a SCA from Yuma came up for the weekend and helped out with the Smokey crew for the last day.
So far the team has had an awesome experience and is looking forward to the arrival of the new team member, Michael “Fred” Young, on the 5th of July.
Update courtesy of Smokey Chaser extraordinaire: Doug Whitbeck
The Dixie FIREMON season is underway. Our small yet efficient team consisting of corps member Doug Whitbeck, forest service liaison Laura Peterson, and project leader Anna Hendricks has been busy arming our brains with as much local knowledge and trainings as possible to prepare for the season. Corps member training began with the SCA building blocks including topics such as risk management, vehicle care and maintenance, and conservation ethics.
The team felt extremely fortunate to spend a day with Dixie National Forest (DNF) and Fishlake National Forest (FNF) Fire Ecologist, Linda Chappell and FNF Ecologist, Bob Campbell. Topics included local safety concerns, past and present fire ecology, and aspen decline in southern Utah and beyond. These talks were invaluable in forming a basis to understanding the importance of monitoring on Dixie and Fishlake and how data collected by the SCA is utilized on the forests.
In addition to FIREMON specific training, Doug and Anna had the opportunity to attend S-212 Wildland Fire Chainsaw Training. Training consisted of two days in the classroom learning safety concerns and saw techniques prior to a field day felling and bucking in DNF. Laura attended S-131 Firefighter Type 1 training at the Utah Wildfire Academy. Doug made the journey to Flagstaff, AZ for Wilderness First Aid (WFA) training with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI). The Powel Ranger District Season Orientation provided a great opportunity to meet folks from various areas of the forest in the charming town of Panguitch, UT.
Most importantly, the team was able to hit the field and begin collecting data. The snow is melting slowly but surely in the high country. The field season began on plots in the Powell District (D3) of DNF. In addition to learning the local flora, plots included a grand view of “hoodoos” similar to those found in Bryce Canyon National Park. When we’re not in the field or classroom, you can find us hiking, fishing, and generally wandering about the amazing landscape of Utah.
My name is Doug Whitbeck and I was born and raised in Oklahoma City. After graduating from the University of Oklahoma with a BA in environmental science I took a SCA internship in Natural Resource Management for the Bureau of Land Management in Yuma, AZ. While in Yuma I fell in love with great American SW. Now, I am working in the beautiful state of Utah working as a FIREMON Corps Member in the Dixie National Forest.
2011 marks the 6th year the SCA will be collecting data on Fire Effects Monitoring (FIREMON) plots in Dixie National Forest. Due to the program’s success, the scope of plots as of 2010 has expanded to include Fishlake National Forest. With a team consisting of 1 forest service liaison, 1 project leader, and 2 corps members, the goal is to collect data on each district of Dixie and Fishlake in order to continue our understanding of fire's effects on ecosystems.
“The Dixie National Forest, with headquarters in Cedar City, Utah, occupies almost two million acres and stretches for about 170 miles across southern Utah. It straddles the divide between the Great Basin and the Colorado River. Elevations vary from 2,800 feet near St. George, Utah to 11,322 feet at Blue Bell Knoll on Boulder Mountain. The southern rim of the Great Basin, near the Colorado River, provides spectacular scenery. Colorado River canyons are made up of many-colored cliffs and steep-walled gorges.
“The Forest is divided into four geographic areas. High altitude forests in gently rolling hills characterize the Markagunt, Pansaugunt, and Aquarius Plateaus. Boulder Mountain, one of the largest high-elevation plateaus in the United States, is dotted with hundreds of small lakes 10,000 to 11,000 feet above sea level. The Forest has many climatic extremes. Precipitation ranges from 10 inches in the lower elevations to more than 40 inches per year near Brian Head Peak. At the higher elevations, most of the annual precipitation falls as snow. The vegetation of the Forest grades from sparse, desert-type plants at the lower elevations to stands of low-growing pinyon pine and juniper dominating the mid-elevations. At the higher elevations, aspen and conifers such as pine, spruce, and fir predominate.”
”The Fishlake National Forest located in south-central Utah, encompasses 1.5 million acres in Beaver, Garfield, Iron, Juab, Millard, Piute, Sanpete, Sevier and Wayne Counties. The Forest features majestic stands of aspen encircling open mountain meadows that are lush with a diverse community of forbs and grasses. Fish Lake, from which the forest takes its name, is considered by many to be the gem of Utah. The largest natural mountain lake in the state, it offers trophy fishing and bird watching. The mountains of the Fishlake are a source of water for many of the neighboring communities and agricultural valleys in the region.”
As my second season serving as a project leader, I am thrilled to be immersed in the heart of what I believe to be one of the most amazing landscapes in the world. In addition to exploration, I am excited to learn more about the ecology of southern Utah and continue to expand my understanding of the effects fire has on various ecosystems. Born and mostly-raised in Colorado, my search for ever intriguing landscapes and passion for learning about new cultures has taken me on many adventures locally and abroad. I focused my studies in Anthropology at Metro State College of Denver and have found the SCA to be a great organization in which to cultivate my wonder for the natural world while connecting with and building community.
|Work Site Report|
|Dixie/Fishlake National Forest FIREMON|
|Dixie/Fishlake NF Map|
|Michael "Fred" Young|
|Doug Whitbeck - Corps Member|
|Anna Hendricks - Project Leader|
|And the season comes to an end...|
|The battle of Twitchell Canyon|
|There's jungle in Utah!|
|Sawmill, Amos, and School Wash|
|Our team is complete!|
|Tree ID, Petroglyphs, and chasing the Smokey Bear balloon|
|And the season begins...|