Fort Ord National Monument


Wild50 2014 Crew

During the last month of our season, the WildCorps crew worked with the excellent staff from the BLM Office at Fort Ord National Monument near Monterey, California performing a wide range of projects throughout the property. Fort Ord is a special place because, among it’s long list of interesting features, it boasts three distinct ecosystems, maritime chaparral, grasslands, and oak woodlands, and is home to 95% of the world’s distribution of Monterey Manzanita. This former army training facility spans around 14,000 acres, 7,200 of which are available for public recreation at this time. During our month living on the property, the WildCorps crew had opportunities to positively impact one of our country’s newest National Monuments and to enjoy learning about and recreating throughout the areas in which we worked.

For each of our four weeks at Fort Ord, the crew shadowed a different department, performing tasks specific to each department’s distinct duties. Week one we were with Rangers Tammy and Kenny, who treated us to tours of the property to familiarize us with our new work site between sessions of horizontally mulching illegal trails and removing invasive plants. Free slurpee day at 7-11 occurred during this week and we enjoyed a frozen treat on a hot day, which was delightful.  Week two we worked with Bruce the Botanist and his illustrious crew of interns tending to restoration sites, surveying gullies that will be restored in the next few years and making maps for federal reports, and checking and baiting wild pig traps with a fermented tempeh-esque mixture! Bruce taught us so much about the geologic history and biological species at Fort Ord and the surrounding areas, which we truly appreciated as we drove and hiked though a lot of the property. Week three was spent with Marty of the Implementation Crew, who taught us how to perform a number of general property maintenance tasks that we would have previously overlooked when visiting public lands. Jen and I mixed cement and drove a forklift for the first time, among other things, and had a great time learning from one the most genuine and earnest individuals that I have met in a long time. During our final week at Fort Ord, we hiked out to and surveyed locations known to grow various invasive plant species and cleared a large area north of Santa Cruz where the BLM will be installing a trailhead. The weed crew includes some awesome individuals led by Sue, who was extremely informative and willing to answer any questions we posed to her.

In addition to the diverse work WildCorps was able to perform at Fort Ord, we also hosted an enthusiastic group of high school students from SCA’s Community Greenlife program, which is based out of Menlo Park, California. We shared our campsite with them for a few nights and they came out to do some horizontal mulching on an illegal trail and to assist with a habitat restoration project in El Toro Creek. Our crew was also invited to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Cannery Row with the Greenlife crew, and, of course, we were pleased to oblige. Our field trip to the aquarium was awesome! We loved seeing jellies of all sizes, sea otters being goofy, cuttlefish walking around on their front flippers, and shore birds being adorable shore birds. While in the area, we peered into the tide pools near Pacific Biological Laboratories, a location which Jen and I were particularly excited to see because of it’s incidence in John Steinbeck’s novel Cannery Row, which we both had read prior to arriving in Monterey. All things considered, it was a fairly successful outing for the intelligent folks of WildCorporation and we were so pleased to share it with a group of interesting and eager students.

The staff at the Fort Ord office was so welcoming and friendly during our month working with them. We were lucky enough to spend the final month of our program getting to know this wonderful group of people whom we will not soon forget in an incredibly beautiful and diverse area, for which we are truly grateful to have experienced. We could not have asked for a better way to end our season! Time for some shout outs because I guess that’s what we do now. Eric! Tammy! Kenny! Bruce! Manny! Royal! Stephen! Marty! Sue! Sarah! Ryan! Kelly! Alex! Daniel! You all made our last month together so wonderful and we hope you are reading this so you will know how much of an impression you all left with us!

It seems as if that’s all for Jen, Matt, and I, as our crew’s next blog will be coming to you hot and ready from our fearless leader Leah. It’s been a wild and crazy year and we have learned and gained confidence, slept on the ground and gazed at the stars, cooked some amazing food together and enjoyed the company of our crew and of all of the lovely people we have met along the way.

SCA gets the final shout out for facilitating our year as dirtbags—we will never forget it!