Follow Me: SCA member blogs from the field

Follow Me is the place to read field dispatches from SCA members serving the planet all over the USA.

I like to rock climb, a lot. When I looked at this internship based out of Bear Brook State Park, the second thing I did was find out the location of the nearest cliff/boulder field. Since coming to New Hampshire, I’ve been able to get around to some really cool places. My friend Scott and I went to Franconia Notch State Park to climb Cannon Cliff.

“EPMT training, day four: Today, I pulled out baby trees by the roots and left them by the side of the road to die. And I feel great about it.” I pulled a mock sad face.

One of the biotechs working in eastern Alaska laughed. “You should totally feel great about doing some good for the ecosystem.” She hefted a bright orange weed wrench and grinned.

Double rainbow, coming from grocery shopping on the way to Colter Bay, sweet first day!

Another of my travel adventures begins. This time I get to intern in one the most awesome parks in the U.S. I was so happy to be placed close to mountains, whereas in Texas you barely see anything sticking out of the ground.

My first couple of days here I met most of the people I’ll be working with.

The Houston crew started off first thing Monday morning with orientation at the office. Everyone was able to meet for the first time, learn the names of tools they’d be using and learn what projects they will be doing in the next six weeks. Orientation also gave students a chance to get a feel for what they would be doing out in the field.

At first, the idea that the upcoming work week was to be spent solely in the fire office in Marblemount was kind of a drag. After all the cool places we had traveled to around the North Cascades National Park, we were going nowhere this week but back and forth between computer desks.

Our ‘before’ picture, as the crew enters Wind Cave for the first time.

This morning we met at the park headquarters and mixed up a batch of herbicide to spray for invasive Cattail and Reed Canary. After loading up our sprayers and numerous bottles of herbicide we piled in the truck and made our way to the site. We started off driving on HWY 12 along the stretch that wraps around the southern region of Lake Michigan.

When I was younger, I heard about communes and communal living; I was told they were strange and absurd. In college, a friend of mine spent a weekend with a community that shared religious, spiritual, and communal beliefs. He came back in awe of the generosity and kindness he felt, but also uneasy about the distance and isolation, which this community kept themselves in.

Getting up in morning isn’t easy. After a day of traveling and 10 days spent in the woods near Mt. SI Washington, I was ready to come back to my new home in Chesterton, IN. Training in Washington was very draining but worth every second! The scenery was beautiful, nestled in the Pacific North Western Mountains.

For all my talking about Joshua Tree National Park, I never mentioned what a Joshua tree was or even looked like.

Above is a Joshua tree. There you go! There are also many farther away in the picture. Now moving on…

Working with a group of people in the desert is an experience hard to ever accurately illustrate in words.

In an area right by where we were pulling Sahara Mustard earlier, we worked with rangers to help conduct a survey on the desert tortoise population.

After working in depth with the environment and wildlife, Thursday was dedicated to experiencing the more touristy side of Joshua Tree National Park, either through rock climbing or a tour of the historical Keys Ranch.

At first it was simple. As we marched from the road through the desert, there was a small Sahara Mustard here, a small one over there, but really not many. With about one invasive plant per ten SCA volunteers, it wasn’t really much of a job. I was just letting my guard down, only to navigate around a creosote bush and BAM.

A pressing point which I missed in my last post is the concept of “dry water”. I have been to many different laboratories, but never have I seen a substance as strange and fascinating as dry water.

Our first day on site at Joshua Tree National Park opened with sun and clear skies, a pleasant surprise after a night of wind and torrential rain In the desert.

Last week wrapped up Alternative Spring Break in the Everglades. Be sure to check out Teresa’s blogs and follow her adventures with wildlife and restoration projects.

Our last day at the Everglades. Even though it seems like we’ve been here for a long time, I didn’t think too much about leaving throughout the week and now it seems to be coming up very suddenly!

We spent our rec day touring the park, going to all of the neat places we’d passed without visiting on our way to work.

For our last day of work we headed out to the Hole-in-the-Donut, a former agricultural area where invasive plants like Brazilian pepper have overtaken the native habitat. Our worksite was a large artificially formed mound that would barely count as a hill in the north, but which towered over the flat Everglades like a small mountain.

We left our camp this morning before the sun rose because we had a two hour drive to our worksite of the day, Lake Chekika. After meeting the other park volunteers who would be working with us, we stopped at a pond to see a pair of large alligators and several generations of their babies basking on rocks.

We spent our second day here in the Everglades cleaning the Long Pine Key campground. It’s on one of the Florida Keys – but it’s not an island at this time of year.

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