The goal of the SCA/USFWS Trails Inventory program is to provide the Fish and Wildlife Service with a comprehensive and accurate inventory of all trails on USFWS sites across the country. This is certainly an ambitious project as there are over 600 USFWS sites nationwide. This project will take us to every corner of the country, to high mountains and low deserts through bayous and fjords. We are all extremely excited for this opportunity as it provides the chance to perform an important service to the USFWS, expand our own knowledge and expertise, and experience many different parts of the country for the first time.
Hitch three sent team Alpha, composed of members Alex and Stefano, to Minnesota and Wisconsin. Being natives of the midwest we were happy to be able to make it home. After traveling far and wide to new and unfamiliar places it was a different feeling to return to the familiar cities and prairies of the region.
We started in the southwestern-most corner of Minnesota and worked our way up the western border before moving inward and then northward, finishing the hitch at a fish hatchery in northern Wisconsin. We saw lots of prairies and lots of wetlands, and delt with the multitudes of ticks that introduced themselves to our legs. Both of us were surpised to encounter some unfamiliar wildlife at a few refuges. We saw river otters, a porcupine, and two black bear cubs while out on the trails. We toured the fish hatchery in Iron River, WI, learning about brook and lake trout rehabilitation in the Great Lakes region.
Durning our off-time we tried to do a hike on the North County Scenic Trail, but the mosquitoes and ticks won and it was a short hike. We both made it home to visit family and friends, reassuring our parents that we are still whole and healthy after almost four months on the road.
The Delta team, consisting of Letha Pease and Toji Sakamoto, started off their adventure working down the Delmarva peninsula working in refuges around the Chesapeake bay and the Atlantic coast. As we worked our way south to the outer banks of North Carolina we inventoried trails, saw many exciting species of birds, including bald eagles, ospreys, great blue herons, we also saw a momma black bear and her cub and even some wild ponies. While working in Eastern North Carolina we unfortunately had to camp on the beach in the Outer Banks with spectacular weather and incredible sunsets. Although it was difficult to motivate us to continue onward, we finished up our hitch heading north through Virginia to the Great Dismal Swamp, and ended our last work day on a beach in Cape May New Jersey. Overall it was a good hitch that conveniently afforded time for relaxing on a beach.
On Hitch 3, Christina and Susan saw the most wildlife either of them had seen to date on the FishTracs program. Eagles, herons, cranes, and egrets abounded as Susan and Christina became aquanted with two Great Lakes on Hitch 3 through Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio. They inventoried a total of nine refuges despite being flooded out of Illinois refuges closer to the Mississippi River. Water was high even on a few refuges in Wisconsin with the duo doning a pair of hip boots while GPSing trail at Necedah NWR. Being rerouted to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan however, was nothing to complain about. With stops in Seney NWR and Pendills Creek NFH, a black bear sighting, and one memorable boat ride in Green Bay, they had an authentic U.P. experience.
Recreational activities on Hitch 3 included stops at the Saturday Farmer’s Market in Madison, a weekend in the Painted Rocks National Lakeshore on the coast of Lake Superior, and a day at the Henry Ford Museum just outside of Detroit. Foods enjoyed included aged chedder, bratwurst, local jerky and produce, pasties, and more aged chedder.
Mike and Alex in Florida
Our second hitch saw us trade the overcast skies of Boise for the beautiful state of Florida. With most of our wildlife refuges located on the Florida coast, near innumerable pristine beaches, we knew this was going to be a mountainous task to climb! We landed in Orlando and made our way to the Atlantic coast for the first week, working our way down to Everglades National Park for our first recreational weekend. It was during this trip to southern Florida that we first encountered swarms, upon never-ending swarms of mosquitoes and no-see-ums. After accumulating more bug bites than we could count, we left the Everglades and drove up the Gulf coast of Florida all the way to St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, located in the panhandle. Although we had to deal with more than our fair share of ticks here, we were able to hike 15 miles of the Florida Scenic Trail that were located on the refuge. The highly untouched, blazed trail located within miles of pine flatwoods and jungle-looking brush provided the perfect hiking experience. Finishing our work early in Florida gave us the opportunity to move further west along the Gulf coast to refuges in Alabama and Mississippi, before heading back to Orlando to fly out. This hitch allowed us to see a vast extent of Florida’s wildlife, wilderness, and coastline and we departed, now understanding why they call it the sunshine state.
Susan and Xuan:
Our mission was 10 National Wildlife Refuges and Fish Hatcheries, a time crunch of three weeks, in the beautiful states of Georgia and South Carolina. As we embarked into the south-east we quickly were embraced with southern hospitality enriched with culture and history. We were welcomed into Refuges with good spirits and helpful hints to their trail systems. We even had the opportunity to hike a few trails off the coast on islands. That was a neat experience which opened up the viewing of wildlife such as wild hogs, alligators, and the blue crane. With the positive energy surrounding us it was not difficult to keep a great attitude through times of luggage mishaps, embedded ticks, or weather conditions. As we wrap up Hitch 2 we are excited to move forward to new adventures, locations, and meet new managers.
Toji Sakamoto and Christina Perdos:
Landing in Baton Rouge was both a culture and temperature shock from Boise Idaho, but hitch 2 started off well. The first week started visiting refuges along the Mississippi river, and hiking trails in lush swamps and bottomland hardwood forest. Through the subsequent weeks we looped around the state GPS’ing trails and finishing just north of New Orleans. On our meandering adventure around the state we experienced heavy humidity and mosquitoes the size of crawfish in swarms worthy of a planet earth documentary. We also got to see other unique wildlife such as alligators, great blue herons, egrets, snakes, turtles, frogs, armadillos, possums, house cats, and ducks. Our weekends consisted of Amazing food, music, more amazing food and meeting friendly people who showed us the local highlights. The trip left us both feeling that Louisiana is a truly unique place.
Bravo Hitch 2 was composed of Stefano Potter and Michael Molloy and covered the states of Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Their adventures took them to 11 different Wildlife Refuges, spanning 2200 miles and dozens of trails. The Mississippi Delta was quite the swamp in the month of April in the midst of historical flood season, although the refuge managers assured us this was actually a bit of a drought.
Weekends proved to be relaxing. At Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge the opportunity arose to kayak and do a bit of wildlife watching. The next weekend, Easter weekend, in Tennessee they enjoyed the scenery of the Duck unit of the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge. Another activity enjoyed by the Bravo crew was a trip down to the Big Easy for a concert.
All in all, many miles, many states and many memories were made in the Southern Mississippi Delta.
It’s nice to be back in Boise, coming back from the Gulf Coast of Texas. The weather down there was a nice change from the weather here in Boise with highs in the 80s and lows in the 60s. We had an opportunity to stay at a National Seashore called Padre Island which was very nice and teeming with wildlife. All in all we visited 9 Wildlife Refuges where we saw alligators, snakes, armadillos, and feral hogs. In addition we visited both Austin and San Antonio. We all agreed that Austin was our favorite part of Texas. It is rich with Texan history and was a very fun experience overall. We are all looking forward to our next hitches and the adventures they will bring.
During our week together in Boise after hitch 1, the entire team headed into the foothills to do a day of volunteer trail work with the Ridges to River trail organization. In 2010, SCA Boise adopted a trail loop called the PoleCat Loop and that's where we did our work this spring! It was great to turn in our GPS units and clipboards for a few hours in favor of work gloves, hardhats, and McCleouds. Our volunteer coordinator, Will, was an SCA alum and took the time to walk the group through the concepts and unique approach that Rigdes to River takes with trail drainage. With cool temperatures, a beautiful vista overlooking Boise, and good company, the day was a total success.
After finishing her B.A in Geography at McGill University, Christina returned to her hometown of Queens, New York where she worked for the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation for just shy of 3 years. She was drawn to the SCA for the opportunity to swing a pick, hike places, plant things, map things, and experience other ways of life. Before becoming a FishTracs Corps member, Christina completed a 1- year SCA Restoration Internship with the BLM’s Tucson Field Office.
These days, she finds herself surprisingly happy to be collecting data and feels lucky to get to see this country through this current program. When she’s not spending too much time staring off into the distance and thinking about things, she’s trying to get to pottery wheel back in Boise.
As for after the program, she knows most broadly that she wants to be involved in work that connects people with places. She enjoys finding patterns in data and the visual nature of GIS so perhaps using her AmeriCorps Award towards more GIS coursework would be a good plan.
Michael and Xuan visited nine refuges total, starting in Houston, Texas (5) and moved northward to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (4). We met an amazing biologist, Lory, at Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge who spoke to us about the history of the refuge and what it's like to be a biologist at the refuge. She also gave us a personal tour of the nightlife in Beaumont, TX. At Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge, Dustin, the assistant manager took us out on a ride along after our inventory where we hope to spot a bobcat. At every refuge, we came across a range of wildlife that we hadn't ever come across before, such as armadillos, wild hogs, alligators, Texas Longhorns, White-tailed deer, etc, which was fantastic! If you think Texas is all hot and desert, you should visit and be pleasantly surprised!
My name is Mike Mullaley and I am from Portland, Oregon. I come to the Boise Trails Inventory and Assessment team most recently via Denver, Colorado where I worked for a conservation corps. After graduating from Oberlin College in 2009 with a degree in Environmental Studies, I was anxious to trade the confines of the classroom for the fresh outdoor air and to get out in the community to perform hands-on environmental service work.
Having dipped into the land conservation world for the first time – which consisted of building trail, operating chainsaws for fire mitigation purposes and invasive species removal – I wanted to gain additional skills in the field and actively researched the SCA website’s plethora of opportunities, which ultimately led me to the TRaCS program. While I am beyond ecstatic about traveling all over the country to work in wildlife refuges, seeing different cultures and tasting some fine cuisine, I am also excited about picking up GPS and GIS skills. After finishing the TRaCS program, graduate school in an environmental field lies on the horizon, but until I can decide on an area of interest, I like the idea of seeing different places, meeting different people and gaining new skills and experiences in the conservation field through SCA.
Originally from Los Angeles California I have had a lifelong love for the outdoors and throughout college developed my skills as an outdoor leader. I graduated in 2009 from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Administration with a concentration in Outdoor Recreation. During my time there I spent four years working as a trip leader for the university's outdoor program where I lead numerous trips including backpacking, rock climbing, ice climbing, mountaineering and canyoneering. Also, I worked as a ropes course facilitator and maintenance tech for the Cal Poly ropes course. In my free time I enjoy road biking, mountain biking, wrenching on bicycles, rock climbing, and slacklining,. Last summer had an awesome experience with the SCA as the Project Leader for the Mt. Rogers Crew and end of season replacement PL for the Pisgah Crew. I'm excited to spend this year as a corps member traveling around the country, hiking trails and collecting data.
An Iowa native and a graduate from the University of Iowa, I recently completed my studies in International Studies with a European Emphasis. My parents often took me out on camping adventures every year and I feel as though they encouraged that outdoors spirit that inspires me to see what the world has to offer. After seeing and studying many global perspectives and cultures, SCA has extended me a new offer to see my own backyard and I cannot wait to see what opportunities Idaho has in store.
Mike Mullaley and Christina Perdos inventoried 9 refuges and traveled over 3,000 miles in their first hitch on the Fish Tracs Corps. They looped through New Mexico, cut across the panhandle of Texas and explored western Oklahoma. Both self prescribed lovers of the Southwest, they left New Mexico with exceeded expectations and many places to come back to. They handled high winds in northern New Mexico and the Texas panhandle; soothing themselves (and their bent tent poles) over red and green chilies and sweet, sweet barbeque.
They were pleasantly surprised and worked hard in Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge in Indiahoma, Oklahoma. They hiked through canyons and boulder fields where they expected there only to be flat grasslands. Christina saw her first Bison.
Other high points of the trip included a weekend in the Gila Wilderness to hike through forests and into cliff dwellings, a visit to the Grand Canyon…of Texas, and an armadillo sighting. It was a very strong start for the pair.
My name is Alexandra Aaker. I grew up in the midwest where I attended St Olaf College in Minnesota, majoring in Environmental Studies with a focus on the humanities. Following my graduation in May '09 I have participated in SCA programs in various locations, ranging from Alaska, to southern California, to New Jersey. I’ve restored illegal OHV routes in the Mojave, performed trail maintenance on the Pacific Crest Trail, and led high schoolers in trail work in the wilds of New Jersey.
I’m excited for this job to take me to parts of the country I’d never thought to see and I hope to educate myself on the different ecosystems, plant, animal, and human, in these areas. I’m also interested in the GPS/GIS component and the process of mapping the places we go and the trails we walk. It’s also a skill that will perhaps inform my decision for future work—I’m interested in the intersection of hiking, building, and mapping trails.
My name is Xuan Vu and I'm from New York. I graduated from Oswego State University studying Business Administration. My first SCA internship was in Grand Teton National Park preserving old log cabins within the park. I'm looking forward to becoming more knowledgeable in both GIS and GPS. I am excited that this particular position provides the opportunity to do that and the opportunity to see very unique places of the United States, of which I probably would not experience otherwise. I hope to apply the knowledge and experience from this position to continue forward in a career path of conservation and sustainability.
My name is Stefano Potter and I am from Minneapolis, Minnesota. I attended the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities where I studied environmental science with an emphasis in conservation and resource management. I just recently graduated in December. For my position here at The SCA I am most looking forward to all of the travelling that I will get to do around the United States as well as the valuable experience I will recieve using GIS and GPS systems. After my time here I plan on looking for another SCA internship that focuses on ecology or forestry.
I grew up in Southern California and had many recreational opportunities growing up. I went to school at California State University, Chico and received my undergrad in Recreation Administration and received a certificate in Geographical Information Systems. I have worked in other SCA positions in the North Cascades and in southeast Arizona for the Sonoran Desert Network. My most recent SCA internship job was in Oklahoma doing GIS for the Oklahoma Fire Center. While in Oklahoma I also became certified as a Type II Wildland Firefighter and GISS certified
SCA is not new to Alex- In fact, he worked in the Seattle regional office of SCA from 2000-2004 with high school students and their crew leaders from all over the country. Before that, he worked with a similar program to SCA in northwest Colorado called the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, and before that the nonprofit Green Mountain Club in Vermont. Throughout his twenty years of professional outdoor experience, he has led ten trail crews, supervised four backcountry trail programs in Colorado, and managed several programs during his 5 years at SCA. In the spring of 2004, he left the SCA Seattle office to return to school and start a second career in formal secondary education- and, after finishing his Masters in Teaching Program at the University of Washington, taught American Lit and Creative Writing in a Seattle-area high school for three years. During the summer breaks in his studies in grad school, he returned to the field to lead an SCA high school crew in Haleakala National Park and then another SCA crew in the White Mountains National Recreation Area north of Fairbanks, Alaska. He has spent the rest of the summers (and any other time he could get away) traveling internationally- including South America, Vietnam, Nepal, Mexico, China, and Europe. Most recently, Alex led a Conservation Corps Crew in Mt. Rainier National Park in the fall of 2009, and then moved to SCA’s Boise office to become the Program Manager of Eastern Corps Programming for the 2010 field season. Currently, he serves as the Technology Coordinator for the SCA/FWS Trail Inventory Program, also based in the Boise Office.
|Where We Work|
|The Boise Scene|
|Alex Olsen, Technology Coordinator and Data Manager|
|Tyler Lobdell, Program Manager|
|Final Report- FWS Trails Inventory 2011|
|Hitch 8- MidWest and MidAtlantic|
|Hitch 8- California and Hawaii|
|Hitch 8- NorthEast|
|Hitch 8- Rockies to the Great Lakes|
|Hitch 7- Midwest Rivers|
|Hitch 7- SoCal and Arizona|
|Hitch 6- North Dakota|
|Hitch 6- Northern California|
|Hitch 6- Washington|
|Hitch 5- Alaska|
|Hitch 5- Idaho and Montana|
|Hitch 5- Oregon and Northern California|
|Hitch 4- Northeast|
|Hitch 3- Missouri|
|Hitch 4- Massachusetts and Puerto Rico|
|Hitch 4- Great Plains|
|Hitch 3- Minnesota and Wisconsin|
|Hitch 3- Mid Atlantic|
|Hitch 3- Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio|
|Hitch 2- Florida|
|Hitch 2- Georgia and South Carolina|
|Hitch 2- Louisiana|
|Hitch 2- The South|
|Hitch 1, Texas|
|Local Service Day|
|Hitch 1, Texas and Oklahoma|
|Hitch 1, New Mexico|
|Hitch 0.5, Arizona|
|Training, Boise then Arizona|