Dates: May 19, 2010 - November 26, 2010 Project Leader: Calicoe Richir 208-608-6327 firstname.lastname@example.org  67 Ranger Drive Asheville, NC 28805
The team visited Cataloochee Ranch and went horseback riding inthe Great Smoky Mountains. The ranch was founded by “Mr. Tom” and “Miss Judy” Alexander in 1933 and was located in the serene and beautiful Cataloochee Valley. We saw several scenic mountain valley views and had a wonderful time in the warm weather. At the high point along our route, we could just make out Max Patch and Mt. Mitchell.
On the way home we drove to Cataloochee Valley in Smokey Mountain National Park to watch the elk herds. We saw bulls, cows, and some older calves. They were introduced into the park in the past couple of years and are very used to people being around.
This weekend we took a trip to visit the Greensboro fire monitoring team. We followed them to the North Carolina State fair where we enjoying a cornucopia of fried and roasted foods that included BBQ, hot dogs, corn dogs, gyros, cotton candy, sausage, funnel cakes, muffins, elephant ears, snow cones, ice cream, pies of all types, roasted turkey legs, and still much more. After filling ourselves with this cornucopia of culinary gastronomic delicacies, we headed over to the pig races. We watched pigs, ducks, and goats race for treats.
Other sites we saw while at the fair included many award-winning farm animals and produce. There was also a tent filled with prize winning potatoes and honey. The final event we attended was a shooting competition and a wondrous display of horse equitation. We finished the night going out to eat and sitting around a warm fire discussing the sights we had seen that day.
On the 21st of October 2010 we had the opportunity to serve with the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy on an environmental wetland restoration project to convert a tomato field back into a swamp bog habitat. The primary plant they are planning to restore was the extremely rare and endangered plant called the bunched arrowhead, or the Saggitaria fascicula. This is part of the water plantain family Emergent. The bunched arrowhead is an aquatic plant with a 12 inch or smaller tall spatuate leaf with a three petalled flower and an erect spiked arrowhead shaped leaf. To help restore this valuable and endangered plant habitat we planted 150 trees with a group of 15 other volunteers in the field.
The Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy is a non-profit organization that works with land owners to set aside large or small tracts of areas that they would like to be designated non-developable. This is often for the sake of endangered plant and animal habitats. The tomato field that we planted trees in was once a wetland/bog environment that had a thriving community of bunched arrowhead living in this specialized niche environment. The next step in this site will be to repair the 8 foot diameter ditch that follows along the edge of the entire field bank. They are also planning to install 9 foot diameter clay slugs along the bank in other areas to increase the water retention in the soil and recreate the bog environment.
We planted sycamore trees, or Plantanus occidential. This tree is one of the largest trees in the eastern United States and is known for its paper-thin, silver white bark with wide spread zig-zag branches. Next we planted green ash, or Fraxinus pennsylvanica, which is a lowland growing tree species that has whiteish-gray, alligator-like rough bark. The most famous tree we planted was the tulip popular, or Liriodendron tulipifera. This tree is one of the largest and straightest trees in the forest with smooth, grey bark and a four lobed leaf. The last type of tree we planted in the swamp bog was river birch, or the Betula nigra. This tree has a reddish-brown to cinnamon red bark that has a slightly bent trunk with a helter-skelter limb structure in the canopy of the tree.
During our experience, we enjoyed planting the various trees and learning about the process of restoring a wetland/bog environment. This experience was informative because we learned about the bunched arrowhead and the trees. We hope to have another chance to help out the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy.
Navitat Canopy Tour 
As a fun day, we chose to do a canopy tour by zip line through a company called Navitat. Navitat is located north of Asheville in Moody Cove. To begin, we were hooked into harnesses and fitted with helmets. Then we drove up a hill in a cart that looked like a gator (the brand not the animal. At the top we exited and walked to a platform where our first zip line was located. From this point on we were hooked together on a tether. The platforms we zipped between were built into trees. The trees were connected to other trees by cables for stability and safety.
Our two guides were very knowledgeable about the company and the flora surrounding us. Along the way we identified invasives and they told us the names of many different trees. Navitat is a new company which opened this year and has been doing very well. The course took about 2.5 hrs and included many beautiful views of the mountains. Also included were bridges, repelling, and unique ladders. The zip lines varied in length and speed with the top speed being around 35 mph. It was an experience that will not be soon forgotten.
The Asheville Weed Team is a group of passionate people from many different professions who have joined together in an effort to eradicate the bittersweet vines along the Parkway. Their enthusiasm was evident while we worked alongside them at a volunteer event coordinated by our NPS partner, Nancy Fraley. The event took place on Saturday, September 25th. Around 22 volunteers donated their time and efforts. It was a good experience and we were able to talk to many people who have been in the horticulture and invasive plant removal business for many years.
After dividing up into groups and distributing tools and personal protection equipment (PPE), groups drove out to preselected sites and went to work on the bittersweet. Our site was densely tangled with vines and rose. Autumn olive also had an established presence. We did run into a bees nest at one point and were forced to move down the road and continue.
In the afternoon we were appointed a different site and worked by the on-ramp of highway 74-A where the slope was steep and the vines, thick. It was a good workout walking up and down the slope.
Citizen-times write up: http://www.thesca.org/newsroom/asheville-area-invasive-plant-fighters-pu... 
Sometimes we reach a site along the Blue Ridge Parkway (on our way to I-25) that the team determines needs special attention. The underpasses on the south side of the BRP and I-26 is one of those sites. The area was overrun with oriental bittersweet vines growing up trees and as foliage. There were also very large patches of Japenese stiltgrass and in smaller numbers, other invasives.
We started off cutting the oriental bittersweet vines off the trees and spraying the cut vines with a small amount of herbicide (25% Accord). We then started walking through the area with herbicide backpack sprayers, spraying the leaves of invasives with herbicide (3% Accord).
We are pleased to say that our efforts have paid off and the site is looking much better. There is a lot of brown where the stiltgrass has died and the vines on the trees have also died.
We have been working for about three weeks along the Blue Ridge Parkway. We started at the point where the Parkway passes over the majestic French Broad River, and heading northbound until the Parkway passes over Highway 25. Our primary goal for this site is to save the trees from invasive plant overgrowth. Trees smothered and killed by invasive overgrowth have the potential to fall prematurelly into the road and into traffic. Downed trees also allow for more sunlight to reach the forest floor, and encourage further invasion by non-native plants. Oriental bittersweet has been the main focus, however we have also been encountering Japanese barberry, autumn olive, multiflora rose, non-native honeysuckles, Microstegium, and privet.
We started by walking along the Parkway, cutting oriental bittersweet vines off of trees and spraying the exposed vines with a small amount of herbicide (25% Accord). We then walked the distance again with herbicide backpack sprayers (3% Accord) on our backs, spraying the leaves of invasive plants. We covered a 1.59 mile stretch along the Parkway.
This site has been a nice change of pace for us, with beautiful views into deep clear woods. On the other hand, we spend much of our time standing on steep slopes which is hard on our feet and ankles. We have found that rolling down a hill doesn’t hurt as bad as it would seem, especially when there are soft baby pine trees to catch your fall.
We have spent a couple of days working with other SCA members at this site. Kali, an SCA intern who works at our Park Service office, came out in the field with us for two days. We also spent two days working with the CWPP Sanford Team from Greensboro, NC. We all had a lot of fun learning about the pleasures and pitfalls of working with invasive plants.
We finished! After a couple months of working along the road it is a huge deal to finally finish.
On a gloomy day following a rewarding work day at Lower Bull Mountain, we found a fresh site needing immense amounts of work. This site was along the Mountain to Sea Trail near Lower Bull Mountain. We worked to remove tree of heaven, Russian olive, autumn olive, wisteria, and burning bush. Several large autumn olive bushes were removed from the site, along with a large area of burning bush shrubs.
The nature highlight of day was when we saw a bear in the woods.
At the recommendation of our dedicated volunteer, Diane, we have started working at a new site off of Bull Mountain Road. This is an area that is frequented by hikers and bicyclists. While we have nothing against hiking and bicycling, these are common ways that the seeds of invasive plants are spread. Thus, there is quite a bit of kudzu at this site (which is flowering and smells wonderful), as well as some non-native wisteria, oriental bittersweet, multiflora rose, etc.
So far, we have mainly used foliar treatments (applying herbicide to targeted leaves using backpack sprayers) to treat the invasives. We have also used a hedge-trimmer to clear the kudzu vines off of trees.
We had some of our property stolen from us at this site. One of our team members had her backpack stolen; and we had an herbicide backpack sprayer stolen. A few days later, both backpacks were found at the site, minus 18 dollars.
We revisited Lower Bull Mountain to foliar spray and to hedge trim the remainder of the kudzu area. We could see the plants that we were successful in killing, however there were some that the foliar had not killed. We also took photos to keep up with our progress of the site.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the completion of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Parkway was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), during the Great Depression.
As part of a series of events hosted by the National Park Service, we attended and set up a booth at an event at the local visitor center. The event included guided tours of the forest around the visitor center, cake, ice cream, and a couple of informational tables set up by local groups.
Our team set up a table outside the visitor center to explain who we are, what we do, what the SCA is, the importance of treating invasive plants, what sort of invasive plants we deal with, and how we treat the invasives. About 300 people attended the event, and we spoke with about 75 people. We also helped lead the guided tours around the visitor center.
A project we have in the works is the eastbound entrance/exit ramp of Highway 70 and the Blue Ridge Parkway. There is an invasion of English ivy which covers much of the ground and has already claimed dominance over many of the trees. Other invasive exotics include oriental bittersweet, tree of heaven, autumn olive and honeysuckle. The vines have been very thick and the slope fairly steep. It has been good preparation for the upcoming French Broad River site
We returned to this site with the other SEEPM team, headed by Toby Obenauer, while Calicoe was away. Once again we worked to remove invasive bittersweet and other exotics in the area. Toby and his crew of Will and Cory worked with us to treat these sections while our leader was on time off.
When we were satisfied with the SE ramp, we relocated to the NW entrance ramp. This ramp was very similar to the other ramp and we treated it using the same methods.
Highway 74-A 
Today we headed south on the Parkway to Highway 74A where a small patch of Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus altissima) has been re-sprouting from previous removal efforts. We used cut/stump treatment with Accord and were finished in a couple hours.
July 15, 2010
Our team along with Nancy Fraley, NPS Coordinator Southeast Exotic Plant Management Team, and other SCA interns working in our office, attended the America’s Great Outdoor Initiative at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.
The conference was in response to President Obama's request for a report by November 15 with ideas for managing our national parks. He is interested in how to get the American public back into the “great outdoors”. Asheville was the eighth stop on a 20-city tour planned around the country for both youth and adult sessions. We volunteered as facilitators and transcribers for the morning’s youth session to record concerns, ideas, and interests for the initiative's report back to the President.
Overall, the suggestions in each of our youth groups were fairly similar:
-we need better education in public schools K-12 about the National Parks and the outdoors with an emphasis on getting young people outdoors and away from the indoor classroom
-improve funding at local and state levels of the Park Service to provide ways for more Americans to experience the outdoors
-make it easier for young people to get involved and find a career within the NPS and other government jobs without having veterans status overrule
During lunch, our team was able to meet with the Director of the National Park Service John Jarvis and Superintendent Phil Francis. After lunch were were able to hear Director Jarvis, Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy, and the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, Tom Strickland speak at the adult session. This was attended by private and public interest groups, local land owners, other members of SCA teams, and concerned citizens.
In the adult sessions an interest was expressed in reaching out to the American youth. There was, however, a concern about funding. Another focus in the afternoon was the collaboratively with federal agencies and private groups, nonprofits, and other entities.
Every morning on our way to work we pass a nasty mess of kudzu and wisteria hanging off the trees along the Blue Ridge Parkway’s entrance and exit ramp. We are now finally able to do something about it. Once scouting out the area we learned that kudzu and wisteria were not the only invasives taking over the site. Autumn olive, mimosa, privet, honeysuckles, tree of heaven, and bamboo planted by the neighboring subdivision were also in the area. We have only just begun cut-stump treatments on the site and are currently dealing with the added issue of litter left by the homeless who have established campsites throughout the site. There is still plenty of work ahead of us.
We have been working at the kudzu patch for a couple weeks now and it is looking rather dead. The trees are slowly being saved from the massive vines and the kudzu doesn’t cover everything anymore. It is very rewarding to pass this on the way to work everyday and see that we are making a difference. Hedge trimmers, herbicide, chainsaws and loppers have all been necessary in this project. We continue to cut more vines and save more trees.
Following many more hours spent since the last post, we can finally say that we are done. For now. Our site seemed to keep expanding but today we mapped our section and can see the final boundaries. We finished by foliar treating what was left of the kudzu along 70 as well as moved back into the woods to cover the wisteria, bittersweet, rose, privet, and honeysuckles with herbicide in the hope that native plants will be able to grow unimpeded by these non-native invasive.
A few stubborn strands of kudzu were left still clinging to trees in the front section of this site. Our crew had been shown a few new tools, which we used to cut the vines. Our attack was centered on the front section as we utilized hedge trimmers to further clear trees and cut-stump to get more of the vines still choking the trees. We spent two days here and were able to hit some resprouts that we had been seeing with a treatment of herbicide.
Off to our first site!! We were all trained and eager to work. When we got there we wanted to turn around because it was so nasty and full of invasives.
We started off using hedge trimmers to make paths through the multiflora rose to get to trees covered in oriental bittersweet. Once we established our paths, we cut the bittersweet vines in the hope of saving the trees which were being strangled by the exotics.
Our next step was a foliar treatment. We hopped in a line and started killing all the invasives. Our focus was mainly on rose and bittersweet but we were also able to take care of some Japanese honeysuckle, privet, and autumn olive. Now we must wait for the herbicide to take effect so that we can check for resprouting later in the season.
The team returned to this site in an attempt to retreat the exotics missed in our first attempt. The area is still very dense and overtaken, however. The weather was not in our favor and we were only able to spray for about 15 minutes before the wind picked up and ended our efforts. Anna was able to cut down a tree of heaven using her favorite weapon: the chainsaw.
S212 Sawyer Training 
We spent the last two days learning to create destruction and destroy creation with chainsaws. We were each able to fell a big hemlock tree. The feeling of mechanical power, cold mathematics, and rolling sweat was inspiring. Chainsawing is hard work and surprisingly orderly and professional; but we had fun anyways.
We are now trained and fully competent with chainsaws. Now all we need is our herbicide training and we’ll be ready to take out those invasive plants!
We’re back! Our team traveled this past week to McCall, Idaho for training with other SCA teams. We are now all certified in CPR and Wilderness First Aid!!! The training was challenging at times, but very rewarding. We all feel very accomplished.
The setting was in a beautiful mountain by a scenic lake in McCall, Idaho (Payette Lake). We stayed in a little camp and slept in cabins nestled among old ponderosas. It was rather chilly but a good experience.
Attached are some pictures of us in our off-time. We visited some hot springs in Idaho one night. We also took an evening walk along the lake and had a lot of fun throwing rocks at other rocks.
Exotic Invasive Plants 
These have got to go!
(Ailanthus altissima) Tree of Heaven
(Albizia julibrissin) Mimosa Tree
(Alliaria petiolata) Garlic Mustard
(Ampelopsis brevipedunculata) Porcelain Berry
(Celastrus orbiculatus) Oriental Bittersweet
(Centaurea biebersteinii) Spotted Knapweed
(Coronilla varia) Crown Vetch
(Dioscorea oppositifolia) Chinese Yam
(Elaeagnus umbellate) Autumn Olive
(Elaeagnus pungens) Russian Olive
(Ligustrum sinense) Chinese Privet
(Lonicera japonica) Japanese Honeysuckle
(Lonicera fragrantissima/maackii/morrowii) Bush Honeysuckle
(Lythrum salicaria) Purple Loosestrife
(Microstegium vimineum) Japanese Stilt grass
(Miscanthus sinensis) Japanese Plume Grass
(Paulownia tomentosa) Princess Tree
(Pueraria montana var. lobata) Kudzu
(Rosa multiflora Multiflora) Rose
(Rubus phoenicolasius) Wineberry
(Spiraea japonica) Japanese Spiraea
(Tussilago farfara) Coltsfoot
(Wisteria floribunda) Japanese Wisteria
Our Black Bear 
During our chainsaw training we looked up and saw a black bear cub. While in awe, taking pictures, we saw a mama bear out of the corner of our eyes. Since then Mama has come to our office nearly every day to pay us a visit. We haven’t seen the cub since that first day. However it has been over a week now with no sign of Mama. We guess she’s off to bigger and better things.
Asheville, NC 
Some pictures we’ve taken in and around Asheville…