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.
Two teams stayed back in Tuscon once all the trainings were complete. Toji Sakamoto, Nick Coppola, Alex Aaker, and Michael Molloy formed the team who would test out the process we had developed with a 10 day hitch. Nick and Michael immediately got started on the task of defeating the technology problems which seemed determined to stop us from properly doing our job. Through their hard work and technological cunning they were able to get everything in order for their first scheduled site visits. In all the teams visited Kofa NWR, Cibola NWR, Bill Williams NWR, and Havasu NWR. They enjoyed spectacular views of palm filled canyons, towering sand stone cliffs and the colorado river while collecting data for the trails inventory. After the work was done the crew took full advantage of the Arizona sunshine and soaked in nearby hot springs before returning to Boise.
The kick off for the Boise Fish TrACS program was on February 1st with 4 days of orientation in the SCA Boise office. We covered everything from group expectations and personal behavior to managing our Access Database and sending a fax. This week also gave us the opportunity to get settled into our new Boise homes and spend a weekend exploring the area before heading to the primary SCA Corps member training.
On February 8th we traveled to Tucson, AZ for the large SCA Corps member training which included the members for the Native Plant, Fire, and Trails teams. The days were bright and warm and the nights were crisp and filled with stars. During our 5 days at the Triangle Y YMCA camp just north of the Catalina Mountains we learned about the history and breadth of the SCA, how to manage risk in the field, how to drive defensively, and the SCA rules, policies, and guidelines. Those of us who were not already certified in wilderness first aid attended a 2 day Wilderness First Aid course held by Aerie Backcountry Medicine. About half of the group already had this level of training or higher so they had the chance to participate in a Leave No Trace Trainer course consisting of 2 days hiking and presenting the principles of LNT and discussing teaching styles. Those members who attended the WFA certification also attended an evening Leave No Trace Awareness Workshop.
After our 5 days with the rest of SCA western Corps, we broke off to hold our own field training. We spent 4 days doing “test runs” of the entire data collection process in the field at the Buenos Aires and the San Bernardino NWRs in southern Arizona. We were lucky to have a few folks from the FWS and Federal Highways come out for a portion of the training and help troubleshoot a few questions the group had. We learned the intricacies of the inventory process and familiarized ourselves with the data collection and processing. We also became acutely aware of the technical challenges involved with Trimble units and ESRI software. These difficulties were greatly alleviated by the staff at the Buenos Aires NWR who let us use their visitors center conference room for the better part of 2 days. Their hospitality made the training much more productive. On the 18th, 7 of us flew back to Boise from the Tucson airport. Tyler, Michael, Toji, Alex, and Nick stayed in Arizona to prepare a mini hitch covering the rest of the state.
Since we are engaged in a nationwide inventory, we will be traveling to all USFWS sites in the country which have data that needs to be collected. This means we will work in nearly every state including Alaska, Hawai'i and Puerto Rice in order to complete the task. After each hitch of 3 weeks inventorying an area, all 10 members return to Boise for 8 days to unwind and prepare for their next trip.
The SCA side of this program is based out of beautiful Boise, ID. Here in the SCA Boise office you'll find the home for all planning and operational support. With our access to internet, telephones and voicemails, the full range of office amenities, and a coffee maker we are able to maintain the extensive communications necessary to efficiently run our field visits and also process the considerable amount of spatial data that is collected in the field. This is where the all the pieces are put together both before a hitch and after.
As for housing, the SCA members are living in an apartment building immediately behind the SCA office. There is a male apartment and a female apartment with five members living in each. Between swimming in the pool, playing racquetball, and lounging in the rec. room’s mini theater there are plenty of ways to spend time off. With easy access to the Boise Greenbelt, we are able to get just about anywhere in town within a 20 minute bike ride.
Originally from the midwestern state of Illinois, Tyler has been working with the SCA for the better part of 5 years. His initial introduction to the SCA was as a member on a Pacific Crest Trail team which traveled throughout California doing trail maintenance in some of the most beautiful spots in America. Since that life changing experience, Tyler has worked on 9 trail crews in nearly as many states. One lesson he learned from traveling and experiencing so many different parts of the US is that every region has its own character and quality. He hopes that the members of this program will find similar growth and enjoyment from working and learning in new places.
Tyler is an active SCA Conservation Work Skills Instructor and Leave No Trace Master Educator. He hopes to use his experience and enthusiasm to ensure a safe, productive, and fun year for the USFWS Trails Inventory Program.
|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|