Project Dates: 3/22/2010 - 12/16/2011 Jessica Moran - Project Leader Email: email@example.com  Phone: 208.914.0393 2D McKey Building Albright Avenue Grand Canyon, AZ 86023
Signing Out 
The team decided to eat in style for their farewell meal by dining at the El Tovar. It was a fanfare of sorts with most of the vegetation office and a couple from paleontology accompanying the team to celebrate all of our accomplishments. One of our biggest feats for the season was planting a total of 11,162 native plants in just 4 months while juggling another large scale project at the visitor center. We ate heartily and finished just in time to experience another Grand Canyon snow storm.
For the remainder of the season, we put tools away, organized irrigation parts, disassembled the satellite nursery where we stored out plants, and said our last goodbyes.
The Grand Canyon's magnificence and the Vegetation Program's staff and interns will certianly be missed.
This week was permeated with a feeling that the Native Plant Corps and their projects at the Grand Canyon are winding down. We planted our last planting site at the Paiute apartments, putting Gambel oaks into a shady spot directly in front of an apartment. It was our last week working with an ACE crew. In this week and the previous week, we were able to plant an incredible number of plants—just under 2,000! These were almost entirely grass plugs, and the planting went fast because we did not have to berm, cage, or water them. These plantings were additional plantings in drainages and shady areas around the apartments, and hopefully they will be wet enough that supplemental watering will not be necessary. We also finished mulching, for the most part. To commemorate this last week with ACE and all the hard work they have put into our project, especially their crew leader Tony, we had a potluck at the labor cabins with them.
We were able to do some interesting educational activities this week. Cliff gave a lunch time talk about mycology as part of the ongoing “topics in restoration” that Danielle started. We were also able to attend part of a Native American heritage celebration at the Shrine of the Ages. Rex Tilousi, a Havasupai elder, talked about how the Havasupai lived in the canyon and on the rims, and some of the equipment such as baskets and pots they used. The Havasupai think of themselves as being part of the canyon, and Rex emphasized this by saying “I am the Grand Canyon”. We also saw the Apache crown dance, which was quite exciting. The dancers painted their bodies black and were adorned with pinyon branches and large head adornments in various shapes. The warrior spirit of the Apache was clear in this energetic dance.
We have now planted just over 10,000 plants. The goal we have been striving for set by the Agency was 15,000 plants, but the actual number planned by the Agency is more like 12,700, meaning that we are very close!
Sarah Seiler 
Greetings! My name is Sarah Seiler; I am the most recent addition to the Grand Canyon revegetation crew. I am a Northern Californian native who studied Geography (human/environment relationships) and Sustainability at San Diego State and Portland State Universities. The past few years I have been involved with internships doing restoration and invasive species work in the Pacific Northwest to the Sonoran Desert. For the moment I am happy to call the canyon home, while doing revegetation with volunteers and learning more about the native species of the South Rim. I enjoy reading, cooking, hiking/backpacking/traveling, and am interested in saving the world any way I can.
This week the Grand Canyon SCA Vegetation Crew completed many tasks that brought them closer to completing their goal of re-vegetating the entire Paiute Apartment complex. The week started with a new SCA member, Sarah Seiler, joining the crew who had just come from working with the SCA in Tuscon. To start the day, irrigation splitter caps were unscrewed and replaced with brown netafim connectors, then 15' netafim lines were connected to the splitters. Within the first day of work we had a group of volunteers from Elder Hostel in conjunction with the Road Scholar program to help the SCA crew plant, mulch, water, and cage the sites completed. As the week continued the groups of volunteers grew to include many random volunteers from the area including a few volunteers from the Arizona region, two long term volunteers, Hannah and Lil, a visiting volunteer, ACE and a few helping hands from interns within the vegetation office including Ellen Aikens, Laura Getts, and Sara Manly. With the massive amount of help the crew had, more planting was able to occur than ever. After planting in each site was completed, mulching the planted sites became the priority; focusing on mulching the areas within the berm. After mulching is completed, cages needed to be constructed and staked to the ground to reduce the amount of elk degradation. Throughout the week the crew also spent time fixing broken irrigation that had been damaged by elk, cold weather and volunteers. During the week, cages that had been erected in previous years that are too small for the plants they were protecting or fallen over were removed to allow for plant growth.
This week involved an ardent push on the Paiute apartments planting project. We planted five days out of our eight day week, which is much more planting than we have done in the past. We had the added benefit of lots of extra help. Danielle is back in action after being unable to do heavy work for several weeks due to a back injury. Jesse and Della, new restoration interns, were able to help us on several days, which allowed us to get much more planting done. With the additional help of two volunteer groups, we were able to plant, mulch, and cage two entire planting zones. Our first group was a crew of volunteers who came up for national public lands day. We had four volunteers from this group, and they proved to be excellent workers. We are really getting our planting demonstrations down, as they seemed to understand how to level out the planting area, plant, and build berms with little difficulty. The second volunteer day was an event entirely planned by our SCA crew, one that we have been planning for some time now. The idea was to have an opportunity for apartment residents to help plant in their own yards. In the morning only one volunteer came, Janice, a biologist in the wildlife department. She worked for the vegetation department ten years ago and it was interesting to talk to her about how the program has changed since then. We were worried that nobody else was going to come, but later in the afternoon three more cheerful volunteers came, ready to work. It was a good chance to connect with local residents—one man works at the Grand Canyon clinic, while the other two volunteers work at the Grand Canyon airport in Tusayan (a small town just south of the park). We planted lots of grass plugs, as recently we have been trying to get as many of these in the ground as possible to fill our massive quota of 15,000 plants. We are still far from that goal, but we feel confident that we will be able to get the apartments planted and looking much better than they did initially. Our first plantings from late July are already looking amazing—the globe mallow have tripled in size and are flowering brilliantly, and the grasses have exploded into mature plants that will soon send forth their progeny.
Cliff spent the week as the designated Grand Canyon Visitor Center irrigation guy. He troubleshooted some of the irrigation systems, and hopefully fixed a major one that will save us many hours of hand watering.
We had another exciting tour here at the Grand Canyon (how can it not be exciting with our location?), with some great volunteers that helped us plant a big section of our Paiute project site. The beginning of the week was spent preparing all of the supplies we would need for our planting, including tools, snacks, and of course plants. We are really getting the prep work down for volunteer groups and everything went smoothly. Labor day found our vegetation office empty of all but the most incredibly dedicated SCA volunteers (aka, us!), and we put the hard work back into Labor day. Even passing apartment residents expressed their excitement about our ever growing area of plant sites.
Winter is on the way, marked by a steadily later sunrise and a slight cooling of morning temperatures. The pressure is on to get as many plants into the ground before the first snows!
The only downside of an awesome week would be the teams' farewell to one of its corps members; due to a long-term injury to her foot, Brittney has had to leave the canyon and return home. We will miss the sound of her crutches echoing throughout the office and will be sure to send her frequent updates on our projects' progress.
The first two days of the week were pretty exciting, as the entire Grand Canyon Vegetation office drove out to Desert View in order to have our yearly conference. We listened to multiple speakers give updates on canyon projects, safety procedures, and just general plant information. Our SCA team gave an epic skit presentation on Driving Safety, which included a home-made, giant cardboard-box car with paper-plate wheels. On the second day we spent the afternoon on a volunteer project, planting and mulching out at Desert View. The conference was a fun and educational break from our daily routine.
On Wednesday the Grand Canyon Park headquarters held an open house, allowing visitors and park employees alike to come and explore the current projects going on in the canyon. We only stayed for a short time, as there was more watering to get done! We finished up the week doing just that, as well as a little weed pulling.
This work week was incredibly exciting because we got to take our first group trip traveling down to Phoenix. We had two amazing days of Wilderness First Aid training (or as I like to mistakenly call it: Wildlife First Aid) given by Mike England with a diverse group of fellow trainees.
We learned how to respond to accident situations such as helping a mildly injured patient hike out of the backcountry, or of keeping a severely injured patient remain stable until professional help can arrive. We memorized so many acronyms that our heads are still spinning, such as RICE, our ABC's, the PAS, LOC, and a ridiculous amount of other examples. I just hope I can remember all of the correct procedures and not pass out at the first site of blood.
After driving back from Phoenix we immediately jumped back into work with a volunteer group planting at the Visitor Center. It was good to be back! We finished up the week doing more caging and watering. Our sites are really coming along.
The first two days of the week were spent watering and weeding at our various Visitor Center planting sites. We are starting to get really good at recognizing any weed in the area.
On Wednesday we had ACE help us mulch a huge planting site (have I ever mentioned before how amazing ACE is?). In the afternoon a Fundamentals group came out to volunteer and learn the specifics of planting. They were a very enthusiastic bunch and got a lot of plants into the ground.
Thursday was the usual routine, with the exception that Danielle and Brittney saw their first black widow spider lurking in the shadows of an irrigation box. After the initial excitement of identification and avoidance of any biting, they carefully moved the spider off into the woods to avoid any future confrontation.
On Monday the team spent most of the day repairing caging at multiple sites around the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. The cages help to keep animals like deer and elk from chowing down on all of our freshly planted stock; globe mallow and penstemon appear to be a couple of their favorite snack foods. They also help to discourage visitors from running all over our sites (although sometimes even cages don't stop the determined ones). In the afternoon we all toured the beautiful Desert View tower. It was built by Mary Coulter many years ago to allow visitors to see the canyon and the Colorado River from a high vantage point. We also explored some ancient Native American archeology sites, including farm plots and spiritual kivas.
On Tuesday morning we took a tour of the Grand Canyon Waste Water Treatment Plant. It was an incredibly smelly educational experience! All of our reclaimed water that we use to keep the Visitor Center watered comes from the Treatment Plant. In the afternoon we finished some more berming and caging. Not quite as exciting.
Wednesday morning we worked on deciding the subject of our group project. Some good ideas were proposed, but we couldn't make a final choice. We finished up the afternoon berming and mulching out at Mather Point.
Thursday was kind of a fun day, as after we spent the morning planting and berming at the Visitor Center, we washed up our spiffy SCA truck and drove into Tusayan to see the IMAX Grand Canyon movie. It had some awesome reenactments of Native Americans and the first river explorers, as well as some hilarious shots of canyon visitors. All in all it was a great week!
May 26 Our crew spent the day watering restoration sites and planning a volunteer planting event for a large group over Memorial Day weekend.
May 27 Sierra Club volunteers arrive and assist with watering Mather Point restoration sites.
May 28 Sierra Club's 119th anniversary! To celebrate, 11 Sierra Club volunteers helped us to install new plantings at Mather Point restoration sites. After a full day's work we headed out to Shoshone Point for a barbecue, a birthday cake and a magnificent sunset.
May 29 Sierra Club volunteers help us finish planting. They are model volunteers, finishing the site quicker and more neatly than we anticipated, with entertaining stories along the way. Cliff rejoins us after a trip to the North Rim to cut trees down with our Hazard Tree Coordinator.
May 30 Memorial Day: The Sierra Club volunteers spent a final morning pulling invasive plants at the Visitor Center Plaza, while we prepared the sites for a Grand opening in June. Our crew spent the afternoon watering restoration sites.
May 31 A visiting artist presents an anatomical sketching lesson in grasses. For some of our crew the class was our introduction to grass anatomy. Paperwork for watering and invasive plant removal filled our afternoon, and we managed to water some restoration sites as well.
June 1-2 The Native Plant Corps watered more restoration sites.
The Grand Canyon Re-veg. team started the week off by attending a two day OSHA certified chainsaw training in the Canyon. Beginning with saw basics including the different parts of a saw, cleaning, maintenance and safety; the team also received a lot of information on hazards while felling. The following day the team reviewed felling techniques and assessment of potential hazards like power lines. Then the team practiced sharpening and was able to make a practice cut in a previously felled tree. The team then relocated to the Grand Canyon school to remove three hazardous pinion pine trees in the courtyard which were deemed dangerous. Participants in the training took turns felling and bucking trees. They then stacked the larger diameter logs for residents to take and collected the smaller branches and debris to be brought to the dry dump for mulching.
The following day two crew members finished up the school site removing any excess debris left behind while the remainder of the crew watered. After lunch the crew met up to collect plants from the nursery in preparation for an earth day planting with the Grand Canyon High Schools tenth graders.
Thursday the crew worked with a group of 20 high school students in the GC Visitor Center planting a variety of yucca, agave, fern bush, grasses and other plants in two different sections of Mather Point. The day was a huge success, student’s enthusiasm was high and almost all the plants were put into the ground. The crew was invited to join the students back at the school for lunch which was a wonderful treat. After lunch the students and SCA crew returned to the planting site to water and build burms. After the students left the team clean tools and went home for the weekend.
The following Monday the crew watered and pulled weeds. They were then joined by ACE Volunteers who helped pull invasive plants and burm. They were again assisted in their efforts to spruce up the visitor center with help from the ACE volunteers who pulled weeds while the SCA crew watered the different planted sites. On Thursday part of the crew watered while one member received CPR training and another led the ACE crew in mulching and watering at Desert View.
Our second week of work here at the Grand Canyon has come to a close. Its been a busy week, and has involved a variety of activities.
Monday started with moving a pile of heavy Pinyon pine logs. We moved these to a future planting site to act as natural mulch. The logs were quite heavy, but with good communication and awareness of safety we succesfully moved them all. For the rest of the day we continued repairing fencing around several sites that have already been planted. The vagaries of wind, weather and time have caused many fences to fall over or lose some of the zip ties that hold them in place. Without these fences, deer and elk would ravage our small plants. The rythmic pounding of stakes, the satisfying clicks of zip ties ratcheting into place, and the occasional question from a confused tourist filled the rest of the day.
On tuesday we were fortunate enough to sit in on a geology training. This was more for people working in interpretation, but was immensely useful for our crew and answered the bulk of our questions about the geologic wonder that we work near everyday. Carl Bohman, an expert on the canyon's geology, gave a dynamic talk that lasted all day. We learned the names and history of each layer of the canyon, as well as theories as to why and how the Colorado river cut through them.
On wednesday we began mantaining planting site P1. In the afternoon we did a tour of the museum collections, which is right across from the vegetation office where we work. During the tour we were able to see artifacts from many layers of the canyon's history, such as a giant sloth skull, 12,000 year old arrowheads, and the personal belongings of the first pioneers and miners.
On thursday we built berms at P1. This is so that when we water in the summer, the water will be retained around the plants. This is tiring work, as the soil is hard and full of rocks. We made good progress nonetheless. Throughout the day the wind blew hard, and clouds raced across the sky. Just before we finished for the day, the first drops of rain began to fall. On friday we continued building berms as snow dusted the ground around us and obscured the view of the canyon. We are relieved that the weekend has arrived as the snow piles higher!
After braving a week of whip lashing weather, the SCA team entered its first official week of project work with calm winds and a sky full of sunshine. The team was introduced to regular site mainentace tasks at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center, including fixing and installing plant caging. As an extension of their training, we completed a planting site that was started late fall of last year. The team quickly became acquainted with common plants we'll be working with for the rest of the season including Chamaebatiaria millefolium (Fern bush), Ribes cerum (Wax current), Bouteloua gracilis (Blue grama), Poa Fendleriana (Muttongrass), Artemesia tridentata (Big sagebrush), and Penstemon rostriflorus (Beaked beardstougue).
A big stir was going on at the Paiute Apartments this week, as the tree contractor has finally begun planting our large trees into the site. Now the formerly barren landscape (where we hadn’t yet planted) is dotted with beautiful looking pinions, junipers, and large shrubs. The contractors will be back in a couple of weeks to take out the protective boxes that cover the root mass.
The origin of this tour’s title comes from a volunteer that regularly drives up from Flagstaff to help us out in the vegetation office. This weekend we were expecting about six people to volunteer at our sites; unfortunately only one, our Flagstaff volunteer, showed up to do the job. However, with her amazing help we were quite able to do every task that was needed, whether it was pulling weeds out at Desert View or helping us plant at Paiute Apartments. She was a veritable army of one! We hope that she can come out again sometime soon.
More awesome news: Joe’s birthday was this week! After a plethora of baked goods made for the occasion, we had a smashing party out at Shoshone point, one of the most beautiful spots in the canyon. Not many people can celebrate a birthday at such an amazing place. To wrap up this little check-in, the planting project is chugging right along at the Paiute Apartments. Another update shall come next week!
We had a lot of stuff on the docket to get done this week at the Paiute apartments and in the office, and we were determined to finish with style! Half of the team got to work caging and mulching at sites planted last tour, while the other half worked at the visitor center watering and weeding, and in the office. On the 4th, the park hosted a giant welcoming party for the Grand Canyon’s new superintendent David Uberuaga. Judging from our limited but positive interaction with him thus far, the park is in good hands. After stuffing ourselves with barbeque provided by the safety office, door raffle prizes were handed out, making the event an all-around good time.
Over the weekend we had over half a dozen volunteers come to help us plant at the Paiute apartments. They performed well above expectations and with their planting enthusiasm we were able to get ahead on our schedule!
Just to finish out our awesome volunteer experience this tour, on Monday and Tuesday ACE came up from Flagstaff and mulched and weeded the entire areas we had recently planted at the Paiute apartments. The grounds are really starting to look nice. At the end of our tour we finished up our tasks and did some admin work in the office. Until next time and onward to victory!
This week heralded the beginning of a new project. Until now, our crew worked exclusively at the Grand Canyon visitor center, maintaining the restoration sites that previous SCA interns and volunteers planted. We watered, caged, mulched, weeded, and had volunteer groups to help us plant.
Now we are shifting from maintaining an inherited project to a clean slate—a completely new project that we are entirely responsible for. We will now be working at recently completed LEED certified staff apartments which are a stones’ throw away from the vegetation office. The ground here is completely bare, and waiting for the plants in the nursery.
Because this is a new project, this week involved lots of orientation and troubleshooting. The restoration biologist in our office gave us a daily list of tasks. We assembled tools and plants. We toured the facilities, sizing up the task before us: 15,000 plants need to be planted, mulched, and caged by December. After this initial set-up and orientation, we began to swing our pick-mattocks and put our first plants in the ground. We are primarily planting grasses such as Mutton grass and Blue Grama, as well as forbs such as Globe Mallow and Penstemon. We will also plant some larger shrubs including Currants and Apache Plume. A contractor will use machinery to plant several larger trees and shrubs, mostly Pinyon pines and Junipers, which dominate the South Rim ecosystem but take many decades to grow.
Although this week was a bit hectic and confusing, we still managed to plant, mulch and cage all of the parking lot islands (small areas of ground between parking spaces). We also used GPS devices to map the planting areas, and familiarized ourselves with the new drip irrigation we will be installing. This is but the beginning of a long project that our team will be dedicated to for the next four months.
The beginning of our week back at the Grand Canyon was an interesting weather experience. The monsoon season, which lasts from anywhere between one to two months, had begun its daily visitation of rain. After a quick refresher on monsoon safety, we all headed to the Visitor Center to do some serious weeding. Although low-hanging clouds rolled in during the afternoon, we didn't get any rain the first day. We were all pretty disappointed; we wanted to see the rumored ferocity of Grand Canyon storms.
The next day our wish was granted. In the midst of weeding more planting sites, we had to quickly dash back to our truck in order to escape the threatening lighting strikes overhead.
During the weekend we had a wonderful volunteer group come out and help us plant some areas around the shuttle bus station, which is a very high-visibility area. Danielle and Joe gave a quick planting demo, educating our volunteers on proper planting technique. Later on in the day we once again had to take a break from our work to seek shelter from the storms. The new Grand Canyon video playing at the visitor center was the perfect length of time to wait out the fierce weather.
The end of our work week entailed an ACE crew helping us with general maintenance of the visitor center sites, putting everything in order for our quickly approaching work site shift. Our SCA team is going to end our project at the visitor center and begin an entirely new project at a newly built apartment complex called the Paiute apartments. As half of our team will be moving into these apartments to live, we will end up planting in our own front yards! We can’t wait to let our artistic landscaping skills loose on the site.
It's time for an update about our trip down to Tucson! We all headed out on the 26th of June and drove down to meet the other SCA team at their sweet apartment. Awaiting us were Annie, the team leader, Other Joe (as we liked to call him to differentiate between him and our team's Joe), John, Josh, Sarah, and Emily. These are some hard-core volunteers that have traveled all around Arizona for the previous two months in order to get to their work sites.
After arriving and settling in, we all looked for a way to cool down in the much-warmer-than-the-Grand-Canyon weather. As much as we disapprove of man-made bodies of water in the middle of the desert, we couldn't help but enjoy the Tucson team's wonderful pool. The next day we began our work revegetating social trails in Saguaro National Park. Being from an area where the temperature generally never goes higher than 90 degrees, we all proceeded to melt in the Saguaro's toasty 116 degree heat. But, it was a wonderful experience to revegetate the trail.
On the second day of reveg, we were all better prepared for the heat, toting frozen water bottles and camel packs stuffed with ice. It was a truly satisfying moment at the end of the day to look up from our completed work and not be able to find a path back to our camp site. Awesome!
On the 29th of June the Grand Canyon team, accompanied by our friends from Tucson, made the return journey home. The Tucson team then helped us water and weed a large portion of the Visitor Center, enjoying the brisk weather and amazing view. On July 1st we said goodbye to the Tucson team, which returned to their home base. We hope to work with them again on our internship, or at least get the chance to hang out!
This is a quick hello from the bi-weekly leader of the week, giving an update on our progress. Doing an inventory of the number of plants we had gotten into the ground since arriving in mid-March, we found we had planted 800 plants at the Mather Point area. Wednesday the 15th was the grand opening of the Visitor Center; it had already been open to the public for quite a while, but the small adjoining theater had only just been completed. After a short speech by the incumbent Grand Canyon Park Superintendent, the park was then given an incredible Native American blessing by two locals. Afterwards, we rushed to attend the most important part of the opening: free cake.
During the week, we had about a dozen ACE crew volunteers helping us out in our never-ending battle against invasives and the on-going crusade to keep Mather point watered. Reinforcements arrived later on in the week; we were joined for a couple of days by the local Youth Conservation Core. Thanks to all of the extra help, we were able to get the Visitor Center looking great for the opening. Next week we will be heading off down to Tucson to join our fellow SCA team in re-vegetate Saguaro Park trails. Hope that we survive!