Phoenix FieldSchool, an intensive 16-week program dedicated to providing opportunities for urban Phoenix youth (ages 18-24) to gain meaningful, hands-on conservation experience try completing a variety of field-based projects and trainings, is a partnership between the Bureau of Land Management, Phoenix District Office, American Conservation Experience (ACE), Phoenix College and Arizona Call-a-Teen Youth Resources.
The students worked at Agua Fria National Monument learning fish monitoring. They were led by Wildlife Biologist, Paul Sitzmann.
ACE Utah is finishing a month long project in beautiful Moab, Utah. The goal of the project was to remove Russian Olive from Mill Creek. Mill Creek is located just minutes outside of downtown Moab and has seen ongoing restoration efforts. Mill Creek is a popular hiking and swimming destination with several spots to see pictographs and petroglyphs.
Russian Olive is a small deciduous tree that can grow fifteen to thirty feet in height. Growing roughly six feet per year Russian Olive can quickly crowd out desirable native riparian vegetation. Russian Olive’s ability to colonize stream banks can alter the natural flooding process and reduce availability of nutrients and moisture for native plant species which can result in the reduction of flora and fauna species diversity.
The ACE Utah crew was lead by Krish Karau in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management. The crew was removing Russian Olive with chainsaws and then treating the stumps with herbicide to prevent regrowth. The slash from the Russian Olive was being set in various ways from being hauled out and chipped to being used as blockades for social trails as directed by Taylor Hohensee.
The crew worked closely with EPIC intern and former Utah corps member, Taylor Hohensee throughout the duration of this project. Taylor’s focus in the EPIC internship with the BLM has been in riparian health and restoration.
Restoration efforts in Mill creek so far have significantly improved stream channelization and has seen the return of beavers to the area.
The end of 2016 had a number of successful projects for ACE. To round out the year our ACE Utah had a crew working in WireMesa located about 40 minutes east of Hurricane Utah. This ACE crew was lead by Roderick Flannery with the objective to build a mountain biking trail.
WireMesa and surrounding areas are prominent destinations for mountain bikers. The project has been working closely in partnership with the Saint George Bureau of Land Management and the Dixie Mountain Bike Trails Association from planning and design to approval.
This trail has had to be rerouted and altered to protect many archaeological sites as well Pinyon and Juniper trees, some of which are over 500 years old. Part of the trail travels along an open ridge and overlooks some of the area’s stunning red rock formations.
There will be one more crew going out to this site to finish the 6.4 miles of trail. The crew was given a mountain bike on loan to test the trails width and to aid in the planning of the route. Mountain bikes require a wider path for turns and higher clearance from trees. The crew is clearing the path by manually with handsaws and chainsaws as well as clearing rocks and other obstacles from the route.
Starting November 1st ACE’s Utah branch had a crew lead by Troy Rudy working in Zion National Park at the Watchman’s Campground. The scope of the project was to reduce the fire hazards around the Watchman Campground loops.
The crew worked to reduce the campground’s sagebrush by roughly 80%, while strategically leaving desirable species to provide privacy between campsites. This technique should strike a balance between reducing the risk of wildfire and preserving the cultivated native plant aesthetic already present in the campground. The crews then reinforced the removal efforts with the use of herbicide on the remaining stumps to prevent regrowth.
Approximately ten years ago there was an effort to actually plant sagebrush at the Watchman’s campground to keep the campground rich with native plants. However, about a year ago there was an accidental fire close to the campsite area. Sagebrush is a highly flammable plant and with only one road leading in and out of the park the plants proved to be too dangerous to leave at the site.
The crews target species was Rabbitbrush, Big Basin Sagebrush, Sand Sagebrush. The slash was hauled out and piled in a manner that will make if safe to burn at a later date. Our ACE Utah crew is working in partnership with the National Parks Service, specifically with the Fire Management Department.
ACE has been working in partnership with Kanab, BLM Field Office (Bureau of Land Management) for nine hitches over the past several months on the Cottonwood Trail located west of the town of Kanab, UT. The planning, design, and approval of the Cottonwood Trail has been in the works for nearly 18 years and has culminated this year with ACE constructing 3.5 miles of brand new trail.
When complete the trail will connect the Cottonwood Trail to a road that will provide users access to local road that will create a 20-mile loop for trail users. The trail is being constructed to accommodate hikers and equestrian users and will establish a sustainable route for trail users to access the beauty of the red rock bluffs and distant views of the Kaibab Plateau.
This week the crew is being led by Brandon Lester. The crew is working to build a series of “check steps” on one section of the trail and complete the final stone wall on the final switchback of the trail. The check steps are being created to slow down the water and to reduce rutting along the trail by reducing the steep grade of the trail and providing areas where water can be diverted from the trail. On another section of the trail, the other half of the crew is building a stone retaining wall to support a switchback designed to elevate the trail to the top of a ridge.
Bailey Bates, Direct Hire Authority (DHA) Range Management Specialist intern for the BLM in Farmington, NM.
[ACE]: Please explain your main duties as a DHA Intern.
[BB]: I am a range management specialist intern for the BLM in Farmington, NM. My main duties include collecting data for range trend monitoring and writing up Allotment Management Plans. I am also monitoring sagebrush treatments for both pre and post treatments.
Can you tell me about your background?
I am originally from Tohatchi, NM where I attended high school. For college I went to Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari, NM, and then transferred to New Mexico State University where I earned my bachelor’s degree in Range Science in May 2016. Growing up I had always loved being outdoors and which is where I’m usually at during my free time.
How did you find out about ACE, and what attracted you to this position?
I found out about ACE through my college advisor while attending NMSU. What attracted me to this position is that it was pertaining to what I was getting my degree in. Also the location added a lot with being close to home in New Mexico.
Can you tell me a highlight and a challenge that you’ve had so far during your internship?
The biggest highlight so far within this position is finishing my first Allotment Management Plan; it was the longest I had written up so far which included 11 different plots for the past six years. Another highlight was while out in the field one day driving to our next plot, two turkeys just walked right in front of us crossing the road. They did not care to run off once they seen us, I thought it was a pretty cool sight. One challenge that I do face on a regular basis is locating the plots, at times the GPS points will be off, or it had not been recorded in previous years. On one plot I remember we were utilizing a photo that was taken in 1994; the area had changed so much since then. Some plots we are able to find using photos and updated GPS points, while a few are still unable to be located.
Any goals for when you complete your internship?
I would love to start my career off with the BLM working in range. I am thankful that I had received this opportunity working with ACE to help me get starting working with the BLM. Over the past weeks I have learned so much working both out in the field and in the office. I look forward to extending that knowledge in years to come!
Do you have any advice you’d give to someone looking to join EPIC or get into this field?
My advice would be if given the opportunity; TAKE IT! EPIC is a great organization, I am glad that I am able to get this experience learning more in my field. Not only will you extend your knowledge, but you get to have fun while doing so!
ACE EPIC Interns based in Moab, UT recently supported a BLM-sponsored Earth Connections Camp in nearby Bluff, UT. The camp is designed to immerse Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) into Native Culture.
Range Management Intern Jacob Garcia served as point of contact for the ACE team, with ACE EPIC Interns Audrey Pefferman, Taylor Hohensee, and Robert Ford joining the team to assist the various resource professionals and camp staff. The ACE Interns’ primary role was to assist representatives from the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), and the Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) setting up and implementing various hydrology-related activities, and providing general support to ensure the event progressed as planned.
The camp was a huge success, and feedback for ACE EPIC Interns was extremely positive. Jeanette Shackelford, the BLM-Utah Youth Program Lead, and Dr. Chuck Foster of the Utah State Board of Education, American Indian Education Specialist Title VII Programs, shared the following:
“On behalf of the rest of the Earth Connections Camp team, I want to tell you how much we appreciate the time and invaluable contributions the ACE interns provided to our American Indian science and culture camp last week. Jacob Garcia, Audrey Pefferman, Taylor Hohensee, and Robert Ford went above and beyond what was asked of them, and they were such a pleasure to work with. The agency instructors were very pleased with their work ethic and respectful, positive attitudes.”
“The Earth Connections Camp team continues to be impressed by the caliber of interns recruited by ACE, and ACE’s willingness to support our youth programs. Thank you to the [BLM] Field Office for loaning out the crew during this busy time of year. We look forward to working together on similar programs in the years to come.”
We thank the ACE EPIC Interns for all their hard work making the Earth Connections Camp a success, and positively promoting ACE’s willingness to support youth programs.
Earth Connections Camp
Earth Connections Camp was launched in 2010 through a partnership between the Bureau of Land Management-Utah and the Utah State Board of Education Title VII Program. The idea is to provide a one-day natural science and cultural heritage camp for urban American Indian youth from the Salt Lake Valley, as well as southern Utah. In alignment with federal youth initiatives, the goal was to expose youth to meaningful outdoor learning experiences that emphasized a holistic curriculum of natural resource science-based activities, higher education and career paths, indigenous language, tribal history and art. American Indian educators and agency experts serve as instructors and mentors. The partnership includes the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Urban Indian Center, the U.S. Forest Service, Utah school districts, American Conservation Experience, and Red Butte Garden, among many others. Earth Connections Camps benefit 50-60 youth participants ages K-12 each year. Click here to view a 2015 video produced by the Bureau of Reclamation:
ACE Emerging Professional Internship Corps (EPIC) Interns spent 10 weeks working with the Bureau of Land Management’s El Centro Field Office in Southern California surveying, monitoring, tagging, and collecting data on the Flat Tail Horned Lizards in the surrounding desert.