Project Leader: Bobby Woelz Project Dates: Jan 10 - May 13, 2011 Email address: RWoelz@thesca.org Phone: 208.608.6324
Mark Twain National Forest Trail Work Completed by Student Conservation Association
By: By Ashlee Ransom on Jun 6, 2011
Original article can be found at: http://www.fs.fed.us/r9/ssrs/story?id=5860
Recovery Act funded Student Conservation Association to complete Trail Assessment and Condition Surveys on Mark Twain National Forest.
Mark Twain National Forest received American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for a project with Student Conservation Association to assist with doing an inventory and maintaining the forest trail system by conducting Trail Assessment and Condition Surveys.
"Partnering with Student Conservation Association not only helps Mark Twain National forest with trail system maintenance, but it creates student employment opportunities and encourages students to become stewards of the land," said Nancy Feakes, Mark Twain National Forest recreation manager.
Mark Twain National Forest offers numerous outdoor recreational opportunities for the public including various trails consisting of hiking trails, multi-use trails that are slared by hikers, horseback riders and mountain bkikers, motorized vehicle trails, and one water trail.
As an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act project, Student Conservation Association crews have collected information on trail conditions since middle of February 2011.
Data collected will show where all trail features and hazards are located, and include recommendations for where trails need to be repaired, relocated, or decommissioned. Crews also used Global Positioning Systems to provide more precise location points on trails in order to create accurate public maps.
"Without organizations like Student Conservation Association, forests could not accomplish as much work on extensive trail system," said Leon LaVigne. LaVigne is the trails program manager for the Eastern Region, USDA Forest Service, which includes Mark Twain National Forest.
The mission of Student Conservation Association is "to build the next generation of conservation leaders and inspire lifelong stewardship of our environment and communities by engaging young people in hands-on service to the land."
"This is my fourth time participating on a Student Conservation Association crew," said Nettina Conkey from Happy Camp, California. "I love to hike on trails and I feel good knowing that I played a role in maintaining them."
Feakes said Student Conservation Association crews will not be able to survey all of Mark Twain National Forest's trail system, but their work will go a long way in helping the Forest Service achieve that goal.
"This project will allow the forest to address critical deferred maintenance and safety concerns, and to enhance visitors experience on Mark Twain National Forest trails," Feakes said.
For more information, visit Mark Twain National Forest website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/mtnf
The Student Conservation Association would like to acknowledge the people who made it possible for a successful 2011 TrACS season in Mark Twain National Forest. It would be impossible to name each individual who contributed in some way to an enriching experience in southern Missouri, however, the following list of people deserve extra thanks for their time and effort spent helping the team along their journey:
Tyler Lobdell, Program Manager of SCA Conservation Corps Trails, supported the team efficiently and effectively, even from a distance. His diligence, logistics organization, answering countless questions, and orchestrating all the behind-the-scenes magic empowered the team to be well prepared and field ready.
Heidi Brill, Previous SCA TrACS Project Leader, pioneered the SCA Missouri TrACS program in the fall of 2010. We benefitted greatly from her advice and the field and office gear she left us—they solved many issues before we even had them. Heidi also provided expert guidance to TrACS project leaders prior to the start of the season.
Tim Carroll, Project Leader of SCA IL TrACS Team, is owed a great debt of gratitude for managing both IL and MO TrACS during training and the first few weeks of the season. Without Tim’s exceptional attention to detail, organization, and indomitable spirit we would have had a very rocky start to the season.
Nancy Feakes, Recreation Manager for Mark Twain National Forest, helped with project logistics, receiving gear/mail, and informed us of fun cultural events to attend.
James Murrell, Wilderness Technician for Mark Twain National Forest, aided the team immensely in project logistics, housing, local cultural events, highlighted maps and project locations.
Wilmer Scott, Wilderness and Trails Manager for Mark Twain National Forest, served as the main agency contact and was instrumental in developing the SCA TrACS program in Mark Twain National Forest. In addition to answering many questions along the way Scotty assisted the team out in the field.
The thunderstorms finally broke, the flooding has gone down, and the team was able to successfully complete surveys of the Ozark Victory Trail and the Victory Horse Trail this week. This was the team’s final field hitch. The team was able to survey a total of 22 trails this season for a grand total of 76.91 miles surveyed!
Here is a list of all trails completed this season:
• Council Bluff (Potosi District) 12.0 miles
• Bell Mountain (Potosi District) 8.3 miles
• Bell Mountain Connector (Potosi District) 1.0 miles
• Hercules Glades: Blair Ridge (Ava District) 2.74 miles
• Hercules Glades: Pees Hollow (Ava District) 5.53 miles
• Hercules Glades: Pete Hollow (Ava District) 1.32 miles
• Hercules Glades: Tower (Ava District) 6.66 miles
• Kaintuck: Squirrel (Houston District) 0.50 miles
• Kaintuck: Acorn (Houston District) 5.23 miles
• Kaintuck: Butterfly (Houston District) 1.57 miles
• Kaintuck: Cedar (Houston District) 3.39 miles
• Kaintuck: Grouse (Houston District) 1.63 miles
• Kaintuck: Oak Leaf (Houston District) 0.84 miles
• Kaintuck: Red Bird (Houston District) 0.55 miles
• Mill Creek (Houston District) 0.55 miles
• Cole Creek East (Houston District) 5.36 miles
• Cole Creek West (Houston District) 6.07 miles
• Lane Creek: Blossom Rock (Houston District) 1.08 miles
• Lane Creek: Cedar Bluff (Houston District) 1.37 miles
• Slabtown Bluff (Houston District) 1.71 miles
• Victory Ozark (Poplar Bluff District) 3.18 miles
• Victory Horse (Poplar Bluff District) 6.33 miles
The team has bid farewell to the Roby Lookout Station. We have moved back to the Ava District Ranger Station and have begun working on the Hercules Glades Wilderness trails once again. Spring never did come to southern Missouri and it went from winter straight into summer. Highlights this hitch included: caves, frogs, wood peckers, blossom rock, and the Mill Creek artesian well. This hitch we also welcomed SCA Alternative Spring Break Project Coordinator, Anna Hendricks, into the field for a short site visit while she made her way across the country from Florida back to the Boise Office.
Trails we completed this hitch:
Blossom Rock: 1.08 Miles
Cedar Bluff: 1.37 Miles
Cole Creek West: 6.07 Miles
Mill Creek: 0.55 Miles
Slabtown Bluff: 1.71 Miles
Hitch Total: 10.78 Miles
The team has completed surveys of the Kaintuck Hollow Trails and have also begun surveying the Cole Creek East & West loops.
Located south of the Mill Creek Recreation Area, the Kaintuck Hollow Trails lead through a predominately oak forest with some hickory, cedar, and short leaf pine trees. At Mill Creek Recreation Area you can taste water from an artesian well or go visit Wilkins Spring Pond. A highlight in the area is a 175 foot long natural tunnel (which we elected to not to walk through because Mark Twain National Forest currently has closed all caves due to the white nose fungus affecting bats).
Trails Surveyed this hitch:
Acorn: 5.23 miles
Butterfly: 1.57 miles
Cedar: 3.39 miles
Grouse: 1.63 miles
Oak Leaf: 0.84 miles
Red Bird: 0.55 miles
Cole Creek East: 5.36 miles
Cole Creek West: 1.62 miles (estimated remaining: 5.0 miles)
Total of 20.19 miles surveyed this hitch!
The Hercules Glades Wilderness is a 12,315 acre area located in the Ava District of Mark Twain National Forest. Eastern redcedar and oak trees are abundant and mixed with areas of open glades with tall prairie grasses. Our time in the Hercules Glades Wilderness was short but productive. We completed surveys of two trails: Blair Ridge (2.74 miles) and Pees Hollow (5.53 miles) for a total of 8.27 miles of trail. We have now moved on to the Rolla District and begun surveys of the Kaintuck Hollow trails. Stay tuned for our next update.
The Team has completed their survey of 9.3 miles of trail through the Bell Mountain Wilderness. Bell Mountain is a 9,027 acre wilderness area with elevations that range from 1,702 feet at the summit of Bell Mountain to 970 feet in Joe’s Creek drainage.
Nothing can stop our TrACS Team from conducting our surveys. With morning temperatures below freezing the team hiked over 40 miles through freezing rains, gusty winds and even a little snow to complete our surveys of the Bell Mountain Wilderness trails (and we are all ready for Spring to arrive!). With Bell Mountain behind us the Team has now moved to the Ava Ranger District and has begun surveying trails in the Hercules Glades Wilderness… stay tuned for our next update!
Circles are something we are all quite familiar with in the SCA. It is a staple of our training and work days playing games to get to know our neighbors, or just stay warm for a few minutes. It is how we stretch and discuss the movies we are most embarrassed we have not seen (that would be Casablanca for me). It’s how we “take five”. So naturally the TrACS team was well prepared, on frosty morning in February, to begin our season by surveying the Council Bluff Trail—a 12 mile loop meandering around Council Bluff Lake. Following the lake shore for the most part, this trail has been designed for hikers and mountain bikers. The elevation stays fairly consistent although there are some pretty intense grade changes from time to time. The trail has access through a popular recreation near Potosi, as well as several camping, swimming, and fishing areas.
For this first hitch we would be tackling the TrACS survey as a combined crew of five and putting our newly acquired skills to the test. Unbeknownst to us, we’d also be putting our tolerance for wet and cold to the test. The m.o. for MO seemed to be rain and cold for most of this first hitch. We all got very good at writing on waterproof paper with fingers either frozen or heavily gloved. I can safely say that we all became intimately familiar with certain “task codes”—a combination of letters and numbers that signifies a trail feature and what, if any, maintenance needs to do be done on it. Drain dips, hazard trees, trenched tread, and bermed tread made frequent appearances in our surveys. Moreover, we all became much more adept at spotting trail features and knowing where to suggest them in order to improve an unhealthy section of trail. Tthis is one of the most interesting and fun parts of our job; it’s like we are trail doctors, diagnosing and prescribing treatments for everything that ails a trail. Of course there is the hiking too. We’d usually end up hiking at least 3 or 4 miles each day, but sometime as much as 8—not bad for a days work on hitch 1!
About 500 drain dips and hazard trees later we were done and the sun was even shining! It took us about 7 days to finish those 12 miles of surveying. Place a check next to Council Bluff…On to BELL MOUNTAIN WILDERNESS…
On February 8th a big group of us from many different SCA programs arrived in Tuscon, Arizona for six exciting days of corps member training. We learned all about the SCA and the member hand book, how to drive safe and drive smart, the field operation standards, risk management and so much more. Some of us took a “Leave No Trace Trainer Course” while some took the always thrilling “Wilderness First Aid” And of course there were many, many fun group games played!
On February 14 those of us doing TRACS (trails assessment and condition surveys) in Missouri and Illinois took off for Rolla Missouri for three fun filled days of TRACS training with the forest service. We learned about the GPS and all the paper work.
Nettina grew up amongst the forests, mountains and creeks of northern California. She discovered the SCA in 1998 when she did a high school crew in Zion National Park, Utah. She has been in love with the SCA ever since. Nettina enjoys the outdoors in many ways. Hiking to explore what’s around the next bend in the trail, sleeping under the stars and making a quilt in the shade of a tree on a hot summer day.
Danny joins the Missouri TRACS program from the small coastal village of Waldoboro, ME. After laying his math books to rest at Swarthmore College in 2009, Danny spent some time wandering around the northeast. Eventually he found himself on the SCA Massachusetts Central Crew doing trail work from the Berkshires to Martha's Vineyard. Unable to put down his pick-mattock, he spent the fall working on a trail crew for the Massachusetts Audubon Society. With winter setting in he was forced to retreat indoors and take on some statistics and population modeling for Guarnaccia Ecological Services. He very much looks forward to meeting his crew, breaking in some new boots, and mapping the forests of Missouri.
Bobby received his start in conservation by volunteering on an ecological reserve in the Mayan Biosphere Reserve of Guatemala with the non-profit organization, Volunteer Petén. While receiving his degree in Anthropology from Metropolitan State College of Denver he interned with Fifth Sun Development Fund as an Environmental Anthropologist in the rural villages of Northern Mexico. This is Bobby’s third season with the SCA, previously serving in the Fire Program as an Individual Placement and as a Project Leader. He is a passionate outdoor enthusiast, conservationist, and is a certified Wildland Firefighter, Wilderness First Responder, and a Leave No Trace Master Educator. When he’s not surveying trails throughout the forest, you might find him rock climbing at Jackson Falls.
|OTA Mega Event|
|Success Stories: Mark Twain National Forest Trail Work Completed by Student Conservation Association|
|MO TrACS Final Report|
|"Beautiful Trail" Music Video|
|Map of Mark Twain National Forest, MO|
|Nettina Conkey - Corps Member|
|Danny Riser-Espinoza - Corps Member|
|Bobby Woelz - Project Leader|
|Special Thanks to:|
|Victory is ours!|
|Mother Nature Fights Back! (4/22/11)|
|Return to Hercules Glades Wilderness|
|Incredible Daily Hiking Stats (4/12/11)|
|Blossom Rock, Cedar Bluff, Cole Creek, Mill Creek, & Slabtown Bluff|
|Kaintuck Hollow (3/21/11 - 3/29/11)|
|Hercules Glades Wilderness (3/11/11 - 3/15/11)|
|Bell Mountain Wilderness (3/3/11 - 3/11/11)|
|Council Bluff Trail (2/22/11 - 3/2/11)|
|Corps Member Training - Tuscon, Arizona (2/8/11 - 2/14/11)|