Hitch lead: John Horsfield
Members: Aaron Osowski and Chris Jackson-Jordan
After experiencing the wonders of Fish and Game on hitch 1, Aaron and I were excited to be returning for another consecutive hitch along with a new crew member, Chris. We began the first day by traveling to Antelope Creek with a few familiar faces: John Nelson, Justin Nadermann, Jessie Shallow (formerly Jesse Thiel), and her trusty dog, “Spurs.” Jessie, who had recently been married two days before and was in the midst of completing her Masters, was still raring to go. It was pretty motivational to work alongside someone who has so much going on in her life and to see she still has the drive and passion for veg work. Due to an anticipated long drive to Twin Falls that night, we only completed one transect in a beautiful aspen/conifer mixed plot. John Nelson was the only agency contact able to accompany us to Twin Falls. On our trip we were able to witness the unique Craters of the Moon National Park, which looked like a barren wasteland of extremely coarse lava flow which stretched for miles and miles.
During our time in Twin Falls, we stayed at a Comfort Inn and thoroughly enjoyed the local cuisine of Sonic and La Fiesta, thanks to our faulty propane stove. We also took it upon ourselves to check out the hot tub for future SCA members. While in Rock Creek, just outside of Twin Falls, we ran into a dilemma where we couldn’t distinguish if a forb was either columbine or meadowrue. This sort of problem is the most time-consuming in veg work, but is extremely rewarding after pouring over our plant guides for up to 20 minutes and correctly classifying the plant. Overall, the Twin Falls portion of the trip was the most “brutal,” encompassing two days and a total of five transects. From Twin Falls, we traveled to Boise and met up with Jessie and Spurs. Here we were introduced to Bogus Basin, an area completely different than the typical sage-based ecosystems we were used to. In this particular area of the Boise National Forest, the foliage was very lush and a lot more dense, including some species we had never seen before. Ceanothus, Nine Bark and Mountain Maple were dominant species and were found in almost all portions of the two transects that were completed on two opposite aspects. After concluding the transects we enjoyed naps on the five hour drive back to Salmon and the end of the first portion of hitch 2.
On the second portion of the hitch, we were told we would be camping on the border of the Boise National Forest and the beautiful Sawtooth National Forest. John Nelson was our lucky agency contact once again and his jokes and infectious humor made the 4.5 hour drive fly by. Along the way, we stopped in Stanley for gas and groceries and saw the little town in its summer glory. Tourists and river guides were everywhere stocking up for the coveted river trips down the legendary Salmon River. It was an exciting place to be and we all agreed to return on a weekend for some sort of adventure. The area of forest we were working in was an old burn with few trees and very loose soil with few forbs and grasses. After the long drive and one completed transect, we were blessed with John Nelson’s cooking. He is a Dutch oven aficionado and master woodsman. He proceeded to cut down a large dead lodgepole pine with a mere 16” chainsaw due to lack of firewood. With plenty of wood and ingredients prepared, he prepared a whole rack of ribs, potatoes and biscuits for the feast of a dinner we had that night. Breakfast was no different; a dozen eggs, sausage and cowboy coffee welcomed us as we awoke the next morning. Stomachs full, we were ready to complete the three transects of the day and finished before 5 p.m. On the 4 hour journey home, we stopped at the Sourdough rest stop near Lowman and got some of the best milkshakes, which were great except for the fact that “the huckleberry was like trying to suck a golf ball through a garden hose,” as John Nelson said. We topped off the trip by returning to the Fish and Game office only to find a flat tire on the Forest Service vehicle we had parked there for the night. Travelling all over Idaho in hotels and camps with John Nelson and the rest of the crew was a great time. We learned many new species and saw lots of country, and we’re all glad to hear we will be returning for the third hitch.
Hitch Leader: Bri Wills
Member: Joe Duszak and Rango the Durango
Hopefully, dear reader, you have been religiously following the SCA Idaho AmeriCorps blog and already know what a U-route is. If you haven’t for some crazy reason, I suggest that you check out the blog post from U-routes Hitch 1. It is extremely well written and explains very well what a “U-route” is exactly.
The second U-route hitch was composed of myself, Joe, and Rango (as we affectionately started calling our trusty Durango). The first two days of our hitch were spent getting “stragglers” which are U-routes that were left behind from other hitches. Stragglers are annoying and are often stragglers for a reason: meaning that they were impossible to get to, on private property, or just a pain in the butt to hike. We did however get to see some amazing beautiful parts of the forest (like Meyer’s Cove!) and we happened upon a Mama Blue Grouse and her babies. We noticed the mom first and were practically stepping on the babies before we realized they were there. Another U-route we walked had such textbook concerns that we jumped up and down in excitement upon arrival.
On Thursday, Joe humored me by attending a Forest Service training on Plant Pests and Diseases. We met up with the South Zone Veg. Crew in Challis and spent the morning in the Challis office where there was a slideshow/lecture and then headed out into the forest to see some real life examples of what is going on with the trees. After the training was over (which was around 4 PM), Joe and I decided to try and finish up the U-routes around Challis to make up for not working U-routes during the training. This ended up being a little over ambitious and led to a stressful evening of being slightly lost in the foothills of Challis. We made it out eventually, but didn’t get back to camp until 11 PM.
The next day Joe and I headed out to the Bay Horse Lake area, which is one of the prettiest areas I have gotten to see in the forest so far. Joe and I took a mid-afternoon break and swam in Little Bay Horse Lake. This area was not only gorgeous but had some of the most interesting U-routes because they were created for mining purposes. We got to see some old mine shafts and abandoned buildings built in the late 1800s. Joe and I quickly determined that there are three types of U-routes – mining, logging, and rangeland. Mining U-routes are the best. Rangeland and logging – not so cool.
Overall Joe and I had an amazing hitch together. We beasted out approximately 150 U-routes. We also discovered that we have virtually identical musical tastes and listened to some amazing music too. In our free time we rinsed off in various lakes and streams, we coined the term “front seat food”, made fires to keep mosquitoes away, killed mosquitoes (I was averaging 15-20 a night, I liked to kill them on Joe’s back and then leave them there as a warning to other mosquitoes), reading our books, and mingling with other forest visitors. Despite the 15 mile hikes, overly energetic mosquitoes, and muffler-killing forest roads, I think we’ll both look back on this hitch fondly… farmer’s tans and all.
Hitch leads: Ben Dunphey and Tisha Farris
Crew Members: Chris Jackson-Jordan, Bri Wills, Baba, Lisa Weidemann, Nick Larson
Working the U-Routes project these last two weeks had been a combination of tedious GIS learning and re-learning and long trips on four wheels and two legs, giving us scope to where public-vehicle use goes farther than is necessary. U-Routes are unauthorized user routes or “roads” that have been created off the designated routes throughout the national forest lands. The U-Routes project focuses on finding active erosion concerns along these routes and plotting them on our GPS Trimble units. To do so we would park our vehicles and walk to and fro on these U-Routes throughout Idaho's Range lands, mountain tops, and even burn sites.
During this project, we walked the collision line of two worlds; the virtual and the physical. We spent the first few days orienting ourselves within the 'ArcGIS' and 'Trimble' world of computerized data-sets and map layers. Through the training and use of this GPS instrument, I was able to appreciate how much of an asset a mini computer or a mega GPS unit can be when out recording findings in the field. I especially found them helpful with simply finding the U-routes we hoped to examine. It seems many of the U-Routes were blocked off a decade ago and much had changed in the way of vegetation, trails, and road quality since. There were times my group members and I found ourselves relying on our Trimbles to show us the direction we needed to walk since the U-Route was no longer connected to the closest designated road. This is where the physical world came at us like a lead brick. Some of the routes were short, few and far between, where as others seemed to go on for-literally-ever right next to others of similar extent. The finding and the walking of all these U-Routes had a litany of experiences such as impossible stream crossings during the high flow months to extreme re-vegetation where climbing up and over the trees would have been as productive as it was walking between them. This mash-up of computer meets reality leant to some very interesting jaunts up and down windy mountain sides and though fields of numbers with enough underscores to fill said fields, just like the wildflowers filled many of our U-routes.
Hitch lead: Shannon Apgar-Kurtz
For the first hitch I worked with the Forest Service. My agency contact is a geologist who spends about three-quarters of her time working with the abandoned mines program and the other quarter working with minerals administration. For the abandoned mines program she surveys them to see what's at the site and of they pose a danger to the public.
On Tuesday and Wednesday of the first week, the two Forest Service employees who actually close the abandoned mine adits and shafts for the region were in the Challis area closing mines. Over the two days, we closed three adits with steel grates that were welded to the rock to prevent the public from going in but allow them to look in and two shafts. The shafts are closed with foam that is similar to the same foam used to insulate homes.
The other days were spent checking one abandoned mine that a mining company is interested in operating again. My contact wanted to make sure that the company wasn’t starting work without paying their bond. Any type of mining on Forest Service land has a bond so that if the miner or company walks away without reclaiming the area the Forest Service has the money to do it for them. My contact and another geologist also spent time looking for an adit that firefighters found and looking at a conglomerate of abandoned mines for any missed adits and shafts.
My name is Shannon Montano. I hail from the Land of Enchantment in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I graduated from the University of New Mexico with a degree in Environmental Sciences. I love to play outside especially if it's rock climbing with my good friends or running through the trails with my lovely dog, Lucy. I also love studying rocks as much as I climb them and you'll often find me stopped on the side of the road enjoying the geological view or with my nose stooped to the ground hunting for the next great rock for my collection!
My name is J. Adam Martin and I'm 100% corn fed Kansas beef. I'm from Olathe which is a suburb of Kansas City. I went to Pittstate University for one year and then Johnson County Community College for two years for my associates of liberal arts degree. I then attended Kansas State University for two years with as an ag major in Park Management and Conservation. My stint with SCA/Americorps Idaho will also be my internship which will complete my course work.I love Kansas, but I am really excited to be here in Idaho and can't wait to get out in the field.
Hitch Lead: Erica Madden
Members: Owen Donohoe, Sarah Stawasz, Shannon Monatano
Departure from our comfortable beds at Moyer began at 0700 hours and we were off to the Salmon-Challis national forest to evaluate the quality of the trees. There have been massive casualties in the forest due to the endemic bark beetle and spruce budworm. Our job was to assess the presence of these critters through evidence left in the trees such as small boring holes and lack of needles on the tips of branches.
Other assessment included navigating to pre-specified areas, or, plots with a map and compass. At the site an averaged slope was measured using a clinometer then a radius was determined from the slope measurement. Trees in the determined plot were counted, identified, measured, and categorized according to severity of damage.
These measurements will help the crews with the forest service better maintain the forest and mitigate forest fires and their effects in the area!
Project Lead: Joe Duszak
Members: Stephanie Kopfman
There’s something oddly satisfying about working in an area that few people will ever have the pleasure of experiencing, and I’d have to say our Range hitch was exactly that.
Because the Salmon-Challis functions as a multi-use forest, various areas have been designated as pasturelands serving primarily cattle, but occasionally big horn sheep and horses. Beginning in the 1960s, these ranges were studied in an attempt to delineate areas of similar vegetation types. The study continued through the 1980s, and has been recently re-opened in order to assess vegetation changes over time.
For our hitch, we used a variety of topographical data, GPS units, field notes from the 1960s (some spot on and some… not even remotely accurate) and some old-fashioned brain power to navigate the rangelands of the Morgan Creek allotment and conduct involved vegetation transects. Our Forest Service contact, Faith Ryan, provided us with maps of the area, transect data from the 60s and 80s to re-assess, and more plant knowledge then we could every keep track of! It’s really overwhelming to quantify such expansive plant biodiversity.
After reaching our destination, we recorded various notes about the location, including elevation, slope, aspect, direction of travel, etc. Paying careful attention to avoiding any environmental or man-made obstacles (fences, ponds, roads, boulder fields), we began a 4-600ft transect along the contour line of each area. After each pace (2 steps), we dropped a vertical pin flag to ground level and recorded any flora that the flag intersected on its descent. Some of the common vegetation in the rangelands included sagebrush, Idaho Fescue, alpine pussytoes, numerous wildflowers, and more varieties of grasses than you could imagine. Once we completed 100 points, we moved uphill a few meters and ran another 100 back towards our origin.
Over the course of our hitch, we completed 12 transect lines and soaked in the scenes of the Salmon-Challis uplands. While the novelty of seeing grazing cattle wore off within a few hours (and even became a nuisance…cows are really big fans of just laying down in the middle of the road), we were consistently surprised by the endless views of the Bitterroots, whether or not our Durango would actually make it up the next rock-infested hills, and just how many plants we wouldn’t be able to identify (43!). Possibly the greatest highlight of the hitch was stumbling upon a herd of horses and having one of them come within 6 feet of us… I would also say this qualifies as the most terrifying part of the hitch for me, though Steph would disagree. I prefer horses behind fences.
Anyways, it was quite the adventure for our first hitch, and definitely a memorable one.
Crew Lead: Aaron Osowski
Members: John Horsfield, Adam Martin
Working with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game is always an exciting and unpredictable experience, and our first hitch with them was no exception. Upon arrival to their office in Salmon with almost no idea of what we were going to be doing (except the vague idea of ‘vegetation plots’), we were asked, “You all ready to paint some nails?” thinking it was a joke. The next two hours were spent dipping polebarn nails in orange paint, though for what we knew not. These nails, however, would serve as some of our most important tools in conducting our phenology plots of mule deer habitat at multiple locations across the state.
During this hitch all three of us were privileged to see some beautiful parts of the state and learn about a wide array of plants in different environments. We also got to work with some very interesting and knowledgeable people from both inside and outside the department. Mark Hurley and John Nelson, both from IDFG, served as both facilitators and co-workers for our phenology plots, and there was never a dull moment working with the two of them. We also got the pleasure to work with Jessie Thiel, a grad student who had worked with Fish and Game on elk and deer capture missions, and Justin Nadermann, an all-around plant genius who is a retired Fish and Game vet.
As it was the first hitch of the season, all of us learned a great amount from our experience with F&G; Adam, who saw mainly the western part of Idaho near McCall, particularly found the lifting of a dead moose into a truck bed as an invaluable lesson that he will treasure for the rest of his life. Doing two-hour ‘Hobbit’ readings in the truck during a rainstorm and eating beef jerky and Moon Pies were also some highlights of his trip. John enjoyed both learning plant phenology and identification in the field as well as the easy access to Taco Time (which features the infamous “Big Juan” burrito) during our 3-day stay at a house in Pocatello, which made us by far the most spoiled hitch. Other high points of the hitch included cooking without a camp stove (permanent burns on pot), taking the Lemhi Pass back to Salmon (omg), and trying to figure out exactly what is a groundsel and what isn’t (plant ID can get rewarding but tiresome).
Looking forward to working with IDFG again next week, including John Nelson and his amazing moustache.
Hitch Lead: Magdaline Salinas
I went into this hitch with no idea of how the Forest Service monitors wildlife and am coming out of it amazed with the amount of time that goes into project decision making out here. I learned about the 4 management indicator species of the forest, and even had the opportunity to catch one (Columbia Spotted Frog.)
My task for the first hitch was to help work on the sage grouse
inventory. The sage grouse is the management indicator species for the sagebrush habitat of the forest. It involved lots of hiking with some amazing views, identifying lots of new plants, and as an added bonus seeing some neat wildlife.
I had a really great time, learned a lot, got the opportunity to see
some rare plants, and was lucky enough to get to stay in forest
service housing for the whole hitch. A bed and hot water!? I shouldn’t get used to being so spoiled.
Hitch lead: Stephanie Hanshaw, Member: Kenny Grilliot
This hitch was not located in one spot in particular, but all over the Salmon Challis! Kenny and I worked with the three members of the road crew of the Salmon Challis. Jim, Gary, and Pete showed us just how important it is to have a cleared and safe road. During our first week, Kenny and I did some lopping and brush clearing for the first 2 days along Ridge Road, Wallace Lake, and Moose Creek. Kenny also worked on cleaning out some culverts on these roads. On the third day we drove roughly three hours to help fix a bridge going over Antelope Creek. This involved tightening bolts that were loose and adding nuts and washers to those bolts that were missing them. We also saw a moose here while working on the bridge! On the last day of this week Kenny and I worked with what was basically a chain saw on stick, or a motorized pole saw. This made clearing the road happen much faster than it did using loppers! But we also found that this tool became extremely heavy after a while!
During the second week, Kenny and I worked roughly 4 miles of River Road along the Salmon river, roughly between Corn Creek, Spring Creek, and North Fork. We cut back a lot of brush and “pony-tailed” quite a few trees (“pony-tailed” meaning cutting limbs off all the way around the tree so that way there are still some branches at the top, but you can see around the tree and cars coming around the corner better). Our goal was to make the road easier for campers to get through. So we were asked to cut limbs up to 14ft. high in order to make this possible, and of course to only do so if we felt safe doing it. While here we were able to check out 2 very, very small towns: Shoup and North Fork. It was a great time and the people were always very friendly. After these two very tiring and labor intensive weeks, I can’t wait to go on this hitch and again have the feeling of a good, long, and hard days work when I crawl into my sleeping bag. It’s an amazing feeling.
I was born and raised in a little suburb south of Houston, but my
heart will now and forever be attached to Austin, Texas. I came to
Austin to go to The University of Texas where I got my bachelors
degree in biology. I strive for progress, and I have been spending the
past several years exploring a world of possibilities for me in the
scientific community. It seems that I am still looking for my niche. I
hope to continue my exploration through the SCA, and I am looking
forward to some serious outdoor work/play.
Aaron was born and raised in Central Wisconsin. Having an interest in many different things while he was growing up from film-making to science to politics, he fell into journalism in his junior year of college at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, becoming News Editor of the campus newspaper his first year on staff and assuming the role of Editor-in-Chief the second. A former Natural Resources major, Aaron considers himself a staunch environmentalist with a passion for the natural world. When he's not editing the newspaper, he enjoys running, watching British comedy, biking, following baseball, and delving into Beat literature.
Hi, My name's Erica Madden, I grew up in Louisiana where I spent most of my life. Having always been interested in the outdoors, I didn't have many opportunities to explore in the suburbs. I went to LSU where I graduated with a history degree, but something was always calling me to pursue ecology, as I believe I am a naturalist at heart. I've spent the last three years in New Orleans following music, playing guitar and taking biology classes as I hope to eventually go to graduate school to finally study what has been calling me. SCA is giving me the opportunity to follow my dreams and pursue my interest in science, nature and adventure which are my true passions. I am so excited to join the SCA, work outdoors, learn new skills, and meet people who I'm sure will inspire me more.
Hello world, I’m Joe. I hail from the east coast, most recently from Washington DC but born and raised in Delaware. I graduated in 2011 from the University of Delaware (Go Blue Hens!) with degrees in Geography and Sociology, and concentrations in GIS and Environmental Management. After spending a few months in the post-college unemployment trap, I moved to the nation’s capital and got a gig managing a coffee shop for the past eight months.
I’ve had my sights set on the SCA since 2004 when I got the chance to visit my brother’s crew (Hi, Andrew!) based out of Boise. After a few days of driving through the Idaho hills, swimming in the hot springs and exploring the mountain towns, I knew I’d have to come back. Eight years later I find myself living in the Salmon-Challis. I’m beyond thrilled to rekindle my love of the outdoors this season and maybe learn a thing or two on the way.
I was born and raised in southern New Jersey. I've always had a liking for the outdoors and enjoy hunting, hiking, kayaking, target shooting and most sports to name a few hobbies. I am currently studying Ecology and Natural Resources at Rutgers University and would like to pursue a career in Wildlife Management. I look forward to meeting everyone and sharing this awesome opportunity to perform conservation work in such a wild part of the country.
Bonjour! My name is Stephanie Hanshaw and I just graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Science and Policy. Although I have spent half of my life on and off in Florida, I am military brat and don't really consider myself from anywhere. I have lived and visited throughout Europe, Turkey, and Egypt and really enjoy traveling. No matter where I go though, I have the most fun when I am outdoors. I enjoy camping, kayaking, hiking, swimming, soccer, music, and cartoons. I really am a huge goofball and can act like a kid sometimes, but it's all in good fun! I am a friendly and outgoing person and can't wait to have this amazing experience in a state, that to me, will be like a foreign country!
I was born and raised in Ohio and grew up on a farm, farming for a lot of years before our family got out of the farming business at least for the most part. I am a student at Bowling Green State University looking forward to graduating next spring once I take my last class and getting out into the wild. I am an Environmental Science major with a specialization in Restoration, but I am trying to get a feel for the number of different opportunities there are and find where I can establish my knowledge and be satisfied with what I do. I love being outdoors and seeing wildlife and when I am outdoors I am up to trying new things, but most of my hobbies include hunting, fishing, horseback riding, hiking, canoeing, and whitewater rafting. I also like to sit and cookout by fires and play some dominoes and card games.
I was born and raised in Massachusetts and spent four years living and going to school in New Hampshire. I love to hike, bike, fish, ski, travel and do just about anything that gets me outside. Over the past year I've lived and worked in Mississippi and Vermont and spent time traveling all over the country. A good day for me always includes lots of time outside and plenty of music. I love mountains, trees, and cool rivers and I can't wait to call the Idaho back country home.
|Project Leader Contact Information|
|J. Adam Martin|
|Alex Aaker (Project Leader)|
|Nat Elliston (Project Leader)|
|Jackie Lucero (Program Manager)|
|Hitch 9: Trails|
|Hitch 9: U-Routes|
|Hitch 7: Wilderness Trails|
|Hitch 7: U-Routes|
|Hitch 8: Wilderness Trails|
|Hitch 8: U-Routes|
|Hitch 8: Hydrology|
|Hitch 8: Engineering|
|Hitch 5: Engineering; Fires, Breakdowns, and Rosemary|
|Hitch 7: South Zone Vegetation|
|Hitch 7: Trails|
|Hitch 7: Timber|
|Hitch 5: South Zone Vegetation|
|Hitch 6: South Zone Vegetation|
|Hitch 7: Engineering, AKA The Hitch of Darkness|
|Hitch 6: Engineering|
|Hitch 6: Trails|
|Hitch 6: Timber|
|Hitch 6: U-Routes|
|Hitch 6: ITA Wilderness Trails|
|Hitch 6: Wilderness Trails|
|Hitch 5: Trails|
|Hitch 5: Range|
|Hitch 5 - Wildlife|
|Hitch 5 - Wilderness Trails|
|Hitch 5 – U-Routes|