2014 Wild50 Crew Conquers California!


Wild50 2014 Crew

The 2014 Wild50 crew was set up this year to be a roving crew- traveling the state of California as we partnered with different Bureau of Land Management (BLM) offices. The crew assisted in many different tasks to help the offices out in the field. Most hitches were ten-days long, with the occasional hitch being five days. The crew spent seven months camping out under the desert stars, swinging heavy tools during the day, and they also had chances to do general public outreach about The SCA and the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The crew was also participating in a leader training program, and both members have now gone onto SCA leader crews in both Illinois and New Mexico. Travelling through California also provided for plenty of Environmental Education opportunities that seemed to become available dependent on where we were staying.

The crew had hitches with the following BLM offices: Palm Springs, Moreno Valley, Barstow, El Centro, Ridgecrest, Bishop and Hollister- which was at Fort Ord National Monument. In addition to a few hitches with these offices, the Wild50 crew also was able to work with a couple of public places that had some land managed by the BLM. The China Date Ranch Farm was a favorite as we were treated to date milkshakes at lunch one day. Big Morongo Canyon Preserve was known internationally for its birding, and this provided a truly fabulous work and living environment. The Living Desert tested the crews work skills as they faced trail work due to a past flash flood. Another favorite hitch was with the US Forest Service- repairing a trail that had seen a lot of erosion issues.

Without the BLM staff that the Wild50 team worked with, this crew would have not had the chances at learning that we were exposed to throughout the season. We wanted to take some time to thank specific BLM staff throughout California that helped make this crew a great experience.

Our first big thank you goes out to Mr. Greg Hill for providing our crew with constant support and encouragement while we worked and traveled around the desert district. We were lucky to have you help us out there, and were very thankful for the pizza lunch you treated the crew to!

Mr. Steve Harris is the next person we would love to send our gratitude to for helping us out during the desert season as well. Your kind personality, genuine desire to help our crew, and positive enthusiasm was always a boost for the crew.

As we traveled through the desert district, we had the chance to work with the Ridgecrest BLM, El Centro BLM, and Barstow BLM offices. We wanted to say THANK YOU for the support you provided to us as we slipped in and out of town for a quick hitch. As your staff worked hands-on with the crew, we were able to take away many valuable lessons and stuff our brains full of good knowledge!

Ms. Kirstin Heins deserves a special thank you as well, for she provided the crew with support and all of the projects during the month we were in Bishop. She even came out to do desert restoration work one day, cowboy camping with us at night- what a great agency contact! We also wanted to thank the entire Bishop BLM staff that worked with us throughout the month- your supervision through these projects provided us with educational opportunities, as well as various hands on work.

Mr. Eric Morgan over at Fort Ord National Monument is the next person we would like to show our appreciation for. Thank you for all of your help setting up projects for the month as we had the chance to work with all of the staff over in the office. We also wanted to thank all of the staff and volunteers we met and worked with over there. We especially loved the potluck lunch we had at the monument center.

The next people we would love to mention are the lovely people who run the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve- Dee, Betty and Bob.  You all not only accepted our crew to be the only ones who have ever camped on the preserve, but you also even invited us back for a second hitch! You always graciously provided us with whatever materials and tools we needed, allowed us to choose where the trails needed the most work, and let us dive right in. The Mexican meal you took the crew out to was also one of the most genuine gestures this year, and for that we thank you! The Living Desert had a few wonderful people working with us that we wanted to acknowledge as well. Bert Buxbaum and Mel Allison were two major factors in making this hitch as successful as it was. It also seems that there is a trend going on this season of how to win our hearts- the lovely staff here provided the WildCorps crew with gift certificates to Buffalo Wild Wings!

As the crew has gone their separate ways, we will always be able to think back to this wonderful experience filled with unbelievably hard-working people, incredible views, and varied work experiences.

A big thank you needs to go out to The Student Conservation Association for creating this Desert Restoration Corps program. They have kept it going for many years, and allowed our crew (WildCorps XII) to grow as individuals in a unique professional and personal setting. Thank you to SCA staff that made this crew successful. Our shout outs go to the SCA Oakland office (Patrick! Tom! Jay! Carrie!) the DC office, (Jessica! Toby!) the NH office, (Josiah! Nelson! Pat! Patty! Val! Cheryl!) and Sophie in the Menlo Park office who helped coordinate the SCA Community meets Corps program.

Patrick worked hard to make this crew possible in the first place, and for that- we owe him a great deal of gratitude. Josiah was the man behind the entire leader training program, so thank you for all that! Toby helped set the crew up for success, by graciously offering SCA leader crew opportunities to the members after the completion of this crew. You have all helped one way or another- and our crew wants to thank you for allowing us to have this wonderful dirt-filled season out in California.

We have one last big shout out to someone who logistically made this crew happen… Ms. Amelyne Major. Amelyne stands strong in good ‘ol Ridgecrest where the coyotes howl at the creosote filled views of Owens Peak. Your support, good sense of judgment, and availability to our crew was essential.

We will surely miss California, and send our love to the wonderful spots we got to call our home this year!