We started this wonderful week at school where we visited the Audubon Center to examine the leaf packs we previously planted. We found some gnarly critters that made their home inside those packs. We found different kinds of macro-invertebreas which included dragonflies and masonflies. Then we went to the PC campus and updated our resume to prepare us for our future. Bright and early on Tuesday morning, we left Phoenix for the cooler climate of Prescott to work on the Circle Trail at Prescott National Forest. We met up with Jason, head of the trails & wilderness, who guided us to our work site where we began to work on taking out trees, logs, bushes, and some limbs with our chainsaws. Each day we got further and further with our work, the hikes were getting longer but the work was coming out amazing! Who knew that holding a chainsaw for 5 hours would make your arms so sore! Thursday night, after a long hard day, Mel and Tony took us into town for some pizza since we did such hard work. Before we left Friday afternoon we found that we had cut an 8 ft. corridor at just over a half a mile of trail. Not a bad week!
After seeing off our friends heading to Cumming, GA and Waco, TX for the spring season, we (the Nashville crew) took a day to get our minds clear and our house organized. Although we loved being host to our amazing friends from the Georgia and Texas crews and we were sad to see them go, it was time prepare for the busy work week looming ahead. We spent our first day organizing ourselves in our East Nashville home, making sure that our minds were clear and we were ready to hit the ground running. The next day, with the coffee pot a-bubblin’ and our game faces on, we started researching and planning out our service projects that we had brainstormed to complete or spring work plan. Much of the day we spent making contacts with local organizations and gathering information to mold our ideas into something more concrete. It also gave us time to laugh and get to know each other a lot more. It didn’t take long for any of us to feel like we were all at home. Toward the end of the day we were able to pick up our long awaited rental cars that we would be driving for the spring season. Oh was it great to be driving those back to our cozy home. After a fun filled day of planning, we took the next day to drive to all of our Visitor Use locations. It was a great day and great weather to explore the beautiful lakes and woodlands that creep in and around the Nashville area. Though spring hadn’t officially taken hold, we saw many birds out on the reservoirs and marshy areas, and some wildlife on the roads. All of us were excited to get out in the field and start working.
After a few days of good work we took the weekend to enjoy ourselves, visiting our friends from the Georgia crew, and spending a little time in Tennessee. We regrouped on Sunday and did some final prep and checking for our first day of surveying on Monday. We made sure that we had all the directions to make it to our survey sites, fueled the vehicles up, and checked to make sure that all of our survey equipment and gear were ready to go for the survey season! Soon enough Monday morning rolled through and Sophie and Mike were off on their first day of Visitor Use Surveys for the season, and Eva was ready for her first on Wednesday. After enjoying some beautiful 70 degree weather during training a week earlier, a cold front moved in and brought a few days of snow flurries and a 30-40 degree chill! What a change it was, but Sophie, Eva and Mike were all up for the challenge. We all got to interact with all sorts of interesting folk, from overzealous environmentalists to long-time locals, and crazed fisherman to ACE rangers. We all learned a lot about the local culture this week. Even though we worked our tails off this week, we still found some time to enjoy ourselves. Sophie and Mike had another southern experience going to a show at the Grand Ole Opry. There we saw performances by legends Ricky Skaggs, Bill Anderson and Jean Shepard, lady’s man Craig Morgan, and two great younger bands Old Crow Medicine Show and the Black Lillies. We closed out our week with some busy survey days on the weekend and are looking to continue the momentum through the spring season! Happy Easter everyone!
Written by Mike
Tank tops, shorts, and flip flops were worn. Winter coats were left at home. It was light out after dishes. Flowers bloomed. Spring had sprung in Grass Valley!
Grass Valley? What was the Kiavah crew doing in the Grass Valley Wilderness, you ask? We were playing Bananagrams, cribbage, and Settlers of Catan. We were learning how to Double Dutch jump rope and how to set up two Green Monsters joined at one of the doors! We also finally got to experience gorgeous sunsets every night (in Kiavah the sunset is blocked by mountains) and saw a gopher snake and a huge flock of migrating birds. Camping with the Grass Valley crew was a blast and we got to help them welcome Adam, their new member!
In between sunsets, games, and learning new wildflowers the fourteen of us built two kilometers of fence along the wilderness boundary in Grass Valley. Mr. Matt Duarte—our outstanding program coordinator—came to visit, learn how to Double Dutch, and teach us how to fence. For Kiavah it was a refresher course, but for Grass Valley it was new material. We worked with our respective crews for the first few days: Kiavah constructed the quarter mile section of fence farthest from the road while Grass Valley worked on the section closest to the road. Finishing the first section and the middle section were joint efforts; working with members of the opposite crew was a learning experience as we sought to find a common process of fence construction. Upon completion of that initial kilometer of fence we moved to a new work site and began building what will be a three or four mile fence.
The Kiavah crew is looking forward to our SEEP day next hitch! SEEP is the Sand Canyon Environmental Education Program, designed for area 4th graders to learn about water conservation in the riparian ecosystem of Sand Canyon in the Owens Peak Wilderness. Sand Canyon is the perfect juxtaposition of an aquatic system and the dry desert ecosystem; we also cannot wait to get back to Owens to see how it looks covered with wildflowers!
Until next time,
Molly for Kiavah
Hitch nine was a blast for the Grass Valley Crew welcoming a new crew member Adam Kinnard, hosting the Kiavah crew Kiavah, and Matt Duarte (a.k.a “Knife”). They all did an extraordinary job of helping us block off some incursions and finish some fencing.
During the first day of work Grass and Kiavah beasted two incursions like the beasts they are. OHVer’s ain’t got nothing on Grass and Kiavah. Then during the rest of the hitch the two crews worked together to finish a 1 kilometer stretch of fence and started the greater part of a 3 kilometer fence line. Fencing jobs divvied up among the members include sighting out the fence line, constructing H braces, running fence wire, pounding T posts, clipping the T posts to the fence wire, and inserting stays to the 4 lines of wire. The first fence line fence was completed under the tutelage of Matt “the Knife” Duarte. His fencing expertise helped the two crews overcome the challenges of the Grass Valley Wilderness terrain. The work for second fence line started out slow for both of the teams due to the challenge of sighting out a straight fence line over enormous creosote bushes. Although the bushes were challenging to work around, the two teams’ perseverance assisted in overcoming this difficulty.
At the end of the hitch the two teams planned to do their two EE’s on the northern boundary of Grass Valley Wilderness, so they could see the wildflowers in that area. But, as you may know things don’t always go smoothly in Grass Valley, and one of the trucks required a tow (déjà vu again) . So, the truck was towed out right before we were going to leave the field, again. This put somewhat of a damper on our day, because Cat, Will, and Lizzy had to stay back to wait for the tow truck while the rest of the members got to see the wildflowers. Thanks Cat, Will, and Lizzy for sacrificing for the teams.
Welcome to the crew Adam.
In the beginning of the week, we started class at the ASU Polytechnic Campus where we learned how to capture reptiles through pit traps. This was a field day for our biology class. We found an Arizona pocket mouse in one trap and released it shortly after. We examined four species of lizards: zebratail, whiptail, side blotch, and desert spiny. They had fallen into the pit traps, and the research gives us information about the population of reptiles in this desert area.
On Tuesday, we began our Wildland Firefighting classes: S-190, S-130, I-100, and L-180. We are now all certified as Wildland Firefighters. Our instructors Ken, Dan, Rob, and Dean spent four days teaching us about wildland firefighting. Dean made us do 50 push-ups to wake us up. He definitely made us pay more attention. We spent three full days at the BLM in classes, learning everything we could.
On our field day on Friday, we learned how to create a fireline. We learned about the tools used by the firefighters and how they customize their own tools. We also got a tour of the fire truck and Matt, Stephan, and Rocky got to ride on it. We then had a chance to practice how to properly deploy our fire shelter. It was an extremely hot and uncomfortable situation. We hope to never have to use one in a real fire emergency.