Phoenix Field School Spring 2015 Second Update


Dirt and Rocks: A Tale of Trail Buidling

Over the past few weeks, we focused on trail building and maintenance. Dan Robinson, SCA Workskills Instructor, met with our crew at Copper Mountain to show us the basics of building a long-lasting trail. After planning where the trail would go, we removed the vegetation in the way and leveled the ground so that water would run off the path and down the mountain (not down the trail). In four days, we constructed close to 600 feet of durable trail.


We used the trail building skills from Copper Mountain at the Phoenix Mountain Preserve with City of Phoenix Park Ranger Jessica DuCharme and retired Ranger Paul Paonessa. The old trails had a lot of erosion and poorly designed segments, and it is the hope of our supervisors that the trail we worked on will be a long-lasting and viable alternitive to the old trails. We worked on a new section with a switchback and also made strides in becoming experts in rip-rap construction to reinforce several old and eroded areas.


Week 5 was spent in Lake Havasu where we spent four days camping by the lake and working with the BLM on a variety of projects. The first day we spent travelling around the desert in an offroad 4×4 BLM vehicle posting signs which specified where people could legally drive off the trails and where they legally had to stay on the trails. The rest of the week was spent restoring lakeside campsites only accessible by boat. We rode about 40 minutes in a boat from our campsite to the campsites in need of attention. Most of the work done was removing brush to the the area cleaner and more camper friendly. The brush and branches were then collected and bundled and sunk to the bottom of the lake to create habitat for fish to lay their eggs. 


During week 7, the team went to the Phoenix BLM office to earn our US Forest Service chain saw certification. Wildland Firefighters instructed the course. It took place in two days of studying and book work and on the third day we put what we had learned to use. We went north to Prescott, where we practiced the techniques of felling, bucking, and trimming several pine species. We had to decipher things like where the tree would safely fall and designated escape routes for the person using the chainsaw to perform the cutting.


We’re looking forward to our upcoming projects, including heading south next week to the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge, then getting our Wildland Firefighting certification, and lots more travel around the state.