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Dry Lake Hills Forest Thinning

ACE Arizona is continuing work on an 18-week forest-thinning project in the Dry Lake Hills region of Coconino National Forest, just outside of Flagstaff, Arizona. ACE is partnering with the City of Flagstaff Fire Department and the US Forest Service to complete this hand-thinning project.

Fire is a natural part of the ecosystem in this region. Historically, wildfires would burn across the forest floor, clearing out the dead and lower branches of trees, making way for a diverse understory of grasses, sedges, and forbs. After a century of fire suppression, logging and grazing, thick ground fuels and a ladder of dead branches have resulted in increased risks of crown fires. Numerous studies based on Forest Service data show that 90% of the trees on Southwestern forests are 12 inches in diameter and smaller. It is the high density of these small trees that represents the greatest fire risk.

In 2010, the Schultz fire burned 15,000 acres and caused between $133 and $147 million in economic damages to the Flagstaff community. The Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project (FWPP) conducted a study that concluded that post-fire flood impacts in the Dry Lake Hills region have the potential to result in significant damage to downstream watersheds. Catastrophic wildfires cause severe floods when they burn the vegetation that would normally absorb the rainfall, leaving the ground charred, barren, and unable to absorb water.

The Forest Service silviculturist has written prescriptions for five sections of the 100-acre area being thinned by the eight person ACE crew. The crew will be felling trees that are 9 inch diameter and smaller. After felling and bucking up the trees, the crew will be building piles for future prescribed fire operations. City of Flagstaff Fire Department Operations Specialist, Matt Millar, and ACE crew leader, Katherine Dickey, are overseeing this project. ACE is honored to participate in this effort to create a healthier ponderosa pine forest for the residents of Flagstaff.

Arizona Snowbowl Spruce Bark Beetle Removal

This August, an ACE Arizona chainsaw crew worked to remove the spruce bark beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis) from Flagstaff’s backyard ski area, Arizona Snowbowl. Crew leader Shelby Descamps provided excellent leadership to the ACE crew for two, eight-day projects.

 

The spruce beetle has caused extensive tree damage to all species of spruce throughout the West. In order to deposit their eggs, female bark beetles bore into the bark of dead or dying spruce trees and lay eggs in the underlying phloem tissue. While these beetles are a natural part of the ecosystem, inhabiting dead or dying trees, they often become overpopulated and infect living trees as well. A combination of natural factors that impact forest health such as drought, dense forest stands, fire suppression, and past grazing practices contribute to conditions that foster bark beetle outbreaks. In the past 25 years, outbreaks have resulted in estimated losses over 100 million acres in Arizona (U.S. Department of Agriculture and Forest Service).

 

In attempt to prevent future tree loss, ACE partnered with the Arizona Snowbowl to remove the bark from fallen and dead trees to remove the larva. With a log debarker attachment for chainsaws, crewmembers were able to peel off the bark and remove the larva. ACE is proud to be working in the Flagstaff community to help preserve the spruce population.

 

Sunset Crater National Monument – Lava Fields

A blue ribbon is tied to the fence on the corner of West Clay Avenue, Flagstaff March 22nd, 2017.

ACE Arizona partnered with the National Parks Service at Sunset Crater National Monument. Sunset Crater is a cinder cone volcano that is located north of Flagstaff, AZ. Through the end of September the crew constructed a trail through the lava flow within the park.

The crew is being led by ACE crew leader, Tim Beck. This is a completely different type of trail building for the corps members.  A typical trail involves working with pliable dirt however, in this case the crew has had to learn to work with lava flow remains which is hard volcanic rock.

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The ground in this area is comprised of lava rock that is unstable and dangerous to walk upon directly. To lay the foundation for the trail the crew begins by moving the lava rocks to fill in any gaps and cracks. Using double and single jacks the crew is crushing in lava rocks to flatten the ground into a trail. By rearranging lava rocks and spreading rock gravel the crew is creating a trail that sits several inches below the lava flow. The trail will allow visitors to walk amongst the lava flow which has not been accessible in the past.

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Mount Mitchell Trail Restoration

Over the course of seven weeks, ACE Asheville worked with the North Carolina High Peaks Trail Association, Mount Mitchell State Park and Pisgah National Forest to repair and restore Mount Mitchell Trail. At 6,684 feet, Mount Mitchell is the highest point east of the Mississippi River. The vegetation varies greatly along the 5 ½ miles to the dramatic summit and features spectacular stands of Red Spruce old-growth.

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The ACE trail crew was led by Zak Beyersdoerfer for the duration of the project. The work involved repairing tread, structures and the overall sustainability of the Mount Mitchell Trail by improving drainage, repairing switchbacks and removing obtrusive rocks where necessary. The crew reconstructed multiple wooden staircases along the trail, carrying the large, heavy wooden steps up the steep trail with a backpack.

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Using grip hoists and rockbars the crew also moved boulders from the trail and to flagged areas to prevent the creation of new social trails. “Trail work is a lot of psychology,” explained Josh Burt, ACE Southeast Fields Operation Manager. “It’s not enough to make a physical obstacle to prevent social trails, you also have to make visual barriers.” Josh explained that having a rock in place to prevent a hiker from going off trail is not enough; the hiker is always looking ahead and planning their route beforehand.  Following this advice, the crew also put in place eye level barriers such as dead branches to deter hikers from cutting across a switchback.

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The work completed by the ACE crew and its partners will certainly help to make this trail, in one of our nation’s first state parks, capable of supporting many more visitors for years to come.

 

 

 

 

 

Timber Marking in Coconino National Forest

ACE Arizona is assisting with an important effort to thin the fire-prone forest in northern Arizona’s Coconino National Forest. The ACE crew is being led by Matt Donaldson and is working in partnership with the Flagstaff Ranger District.

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A century of fire suppression has resulted in dangerously overstocked forests, leaving ­­the forests across the Southwest in a very vulnerable state. Increasing temperatures and decreasing water availability due to climate change has exacerbated this even further.

dsc_7381Fire disturbance is a critical part of the natural cycle and plays a vital role in supporting a diverse complement of plant species and structure. Under ideal conditions forest fires clear the dead and lower branches in the forest allowing sunlight to reach the forest floor. In contrast, historic fire suppression has resulted in a surplus of fuels at the lower levels of the forest, which quickly spreads to the canopy, destroying entire forests.

The goal of this project is to manage the overgrown areas in the Coconino National Forest to prevent these fires from turning catastrophic. The crew is working with the Forest Service’s silviculturist who is writing prescriptions for each area of the forest. The prescriptions are written based on tree size, health and grouping. Part of the work entails remarking previously marked trees as well as marking by these new prescriptions. If you are out hiking in these areas, please note that the trees that are marked are the ones that will not be cut during the forest thinning.

timber3ACE corps members are gaining a thorough understanding of a variety of resource objectives related to wildlife, fire and fuels, timber, recreation, archeology, and soil hydrology. They are also learning how these multifaceted issues all play into the development of prescriptions and the layout of cutting unit boundaries. This project will be continuing though the end of the summer.

 

Trail work at Navajo National Monument

Repairs to Tsegi Point Trail in Navajo National Monument are a unique and exciting project for ACE Arizona. Navajo National Monument is located within the northwest portion of the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona and was established to protect three well-preserved Anasazi cliff dwellings. Like much of northern Arizona, the Navajo National Monument area is composed of sandstone that is apt to lead to rocks falls and landslides due to winter freeze and thaw conditions.

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Partnering with the National Park Service, our work here involved creating a bypass for an area of trail that had been blocked by boulders that eroded from the surrounding canyon walls and fell into the trail. The crew was lead by ACE trails trainer Jack McMullin and ACE crew leader Andrew Greenwell.

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To create the reroute the crew used grip hoists, rock bars and patient teamwork to remove rocks from the new section of trail. We also built rock walls to support the new tread and to insure that the tread is wide enough for hikers to pass safely. Tsegi Point Trail overlooks Tsegi Canyon and the crew agrees that it is certainly one of the most scenic places ACE has been lucky enough to work in.

This was the second of three projects that ACE is working in the area.

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Carriage Trail Restoration at Moses Cone Memorial Park

ACE partnered with the National Park Service and the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation for an 18-week restoration project at Moses Cone Memorial Park. This national historic site receives 250,000 visitors a year and is located on the Blue Ridge Parkway near the town of Blowing Rock, North Carolina. The park preserves the country estate of Moses Cone, a textile entrepreneur, naturalist and conservationist who lived in the late 1800s. It encompasses 3,500 acres including 25 miles of carriage trails now used for hiking and horseback riding, as well as a twenty-three-room mansion called Flat Top Manor.

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The primary objective of this project was to restore the 25 miles of carriage roads to their historic width. Lead by Corey Harrison, the crew accomplished this by brushing back vegetation with mechanized equipment including pole saws, chainsaws, and a wood chipper. By protecting and restoring the cultural landscape at Moses Cone, the ACE crew is providing sufficient width for carriages, horses, hikers, maintenance equipment, law enforcement patrols and rescue vehicles.

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Fuel Reduction in Zion National Park – Watchman’s Campground

dsc_5799Starting 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. dsc_5732

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. dsc_6089

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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.dsc_6039

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. 25375289019_e3fd9a8667_k-2

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The Cottonwood Trail Project – Kanab, Utah

kanab-5ACE 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.kanab-4

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. kanab

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.kanab-3

Rock work | Rogers Lake (Part I)

A crew from ACE Arizona partnered with Coconino County to build a stone staircase to an overlook of Rogers Lake County Natural Area, just south of ACE Arizona’s home city of Flagstaff. This crew is also responsible for the maintenance of two trails leading to the lake: the 2-Spot Trail and the Gold Digger Trail. The latter trail is named after 1890s folklore in which outlaws, on the run from the local sheriff, dug a hole in the then-frozen Rogers Lake and deposited their barrels of gold. To this day, people come treasure hunting — some even come from out of state — according to Geoffrey Gross, Natural Resource Supervisor for Coconino County Parks & Recreation.

Coconino County purchased the Rogers Lake County Natural Area in 2010 and began trail work to improve access for visitors in 2013. Although the lake often fills with water in the spring, it remains dry most of the year. “I think the goal is to make the area more accessible destination,” said Joel Marona, an ACE Governor’s Office of Youth, Faith and Family (GOYFF) intern.

Geoffrey Gross said Coconino County Parks & Recreation is planning to have a grand opening of the overlook by the end of summer. Over the coming days we will feature a 3 part photostory on the progress of the project to construct the stone staircase at Rogers Lake.

Crew Strategizes leverage points with rock bar

1. Rogers Lake

The Rogers Lake project includes a variety of responsibilities, but the top priority is to construct a five-step staircase, providing an overlook to Lake Rogers, its wildlife, and a view of the San Francisco Peaks north of Flagstaff. In this photos, the ACE Corps members strategize the best leverage points for adjusting the top stair with their rock bars.

Communicating with Project Partners

2. Rogers Lake

Project partner Geoffrey Gross, Natural Resource Supervisor at Coconino County Parks & Recreation, visits the ACE crew to check on the progress.

“This crew has been great to work with and has already accomplished a lot. We already knew ACE crews are really good at stonework – they’re our go-to for stonework — and thats important as want this staircase and overlook to be a showpiece of the area.”

Gross said the overlook will have interpretative signage and spotting scopes for wildlife viewing. Elk, deer, antelope and migrating waterfowl are frequently spotted in the area, Gross said.

Look out for Part II and Part III of this photostory on Friday June 17 and Monday June 20 – links will be posted on our Facebook page.

De Laveaga Park Trail Work, Santa Cruz, California

Our ACE California Branch is located in the beautiful of Santa Cruz, California, just a short walk from the famous Boardwalk. Our ACE California crews spend a lot of time working on projects that transcend the state, but every now again we also get the opportunity to do something in the locality of our regional branch location.

De Laveaga Park lies within the city of Santa Cruz, providing local residents with the opportunity to get out into a wooded area and enjoy recreational activities including a network of trails, ball courts, a playground, and picnic areas. As such, this is a a very popular recreation area with a lot of joggers and dog walkers. DeLaveaga Park offers a mixed environment of redwood groves, oak woodlands, mixed forests and grasslands that hosts a variety of wildlife including deer, coyote, bobcats, and mountain lion.

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The park is named for the park’s generous benefactor, Jose Vicente De Laveaga. Born in Mexico and schooled in Europe, DeLaveaga settled in San Francisco with his parents in 1868. A successful businessman, he acquired numerous landholdings, and in 1892 his love of nature led him to purchase over 500 acres on the eastern edge of Santa Cruz, building a hacienda in what is now known as DeLaveaga Park.

The trail project at De Laveaga Park was brought to ACE by the city of Santa Cruz, and was completed during September 2015. Our Corps Members, led by ACE Crew Leader Trevor Willits, installed two staircases in order to improve trail access and provide safer hiking and jogging conditions for trail users.

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This was a fulfilling project for Corps Members as the stairs were made out of reclaimed logs and natural material that was sourced close to the project. The crew were able to transform this reclaimed wood into a rustic looking staircase, helping to mitigate future trail erosion and also preventing people from seeking out ‘social trails’, causing damage to the flora and fauna.

ACE California crews were grateful to be a part of the City’s beautification of a local park, and to create sustainable trail access for the people of Santa Cruz.

Arizona Trail Association Seeds of Stewardship

ACE staff and Corps Members recently attended a local community service project in Flagstaff, where they partnered with the Arizona Trails Association and the Coconino National Forest to teach a large group of 75 students from the local Mount Elden Middle School about the importance of trail work.

ACE were awarded a plaque recognizing their exceptional commitment to the community and continued support of the Coconino National Forest Trails Program

ACE were awarded a plaque recognizing their exceptional commitment to the community and continued support of the Coconino National Forest Trails Program

The students arrived in the morning and gathered at the Little Elden trail head for an introduction from Coconino National Forest’s Trails and Wilderness Coordinator Sean Murphy. At this time, ACE was presented with a plaque recognizing our exceptional commitment to the community and continued support of the Coconino National Forest Trails Program. Sean also conducted a safety briefing, and demonstrated the tools that the students would be using which included Mcleods, shovels, and pick mattocks.

Tools in hand, the students hike to work led by an ACE leader

Tools in hand, the students hike to work led by an ACE leader

Th​e ​students were split up into groups of four and assigned a leader, either an ACE​ Corps Member or an Arizona Trail Steward. The groups began digging drains and check dams to direct the flow of rainwater off the trail and to make it more sustainable. “It’s important to get kids invested in the structures that they use for fun, and to teach them that trails don’t just happen–it takes a lot of hard work,” said Sean Murphy. “They will feel a little more ownership for the trails they use after this project.” The students spent a half day (about 4 hours including a lunch break) at the Little Elden Trail, alternating between working and participating in educational hikes in the area.

A.J. Conrad demonstrates techniques to the students

A.J. Conrad demonstrates techniques to the students

The event was part of the Arizona Trail Association’s Seeds of Stewardship initiative, a youth outreach, education, and stewardship program that aims to encourage youth participation in the Arizona Trail through experience, education, and service learning. “I think it’s important for younger people like myself and other ACE Corps Member to help teach these kids because we can relate to them and connect with them on a more personal level,” explained Gavin Monson, ACE Crew Leader. “I think it’s crucial to instill these conservation goals in the minds of these children. They’ll be in charge someday. If we can show them that this kind of work is important, we can help make a difference for the future.”

Students learn about tool use

Students learn about tool use

The students were enthusiastic about the work, and it was evident that they truly cared about the impression they were making on the land. “I like this kind of work because I like being outdoors,” said student Corbin Cuff. “I think it’s important because we can help the environment.” Corbin went on to explain that he would certainly be interested in doing more trail work in his future. It has been said that we will conserve only what we love, and we love only what we understand.

Everyone at ACE thoroughly enjoyed the event and we hope to participate in future events.

Arizona Trail Association Receives Top Honors

On Saturday, September 12 ACE’s Intermountain Regional Director Matt Roberts was invited to a prestigious event to celebrate the Arizona Trail Association receiving top honors at Arizona Forward’s 35th Annual Environmental Excellence Awards ceremony in Phoenix.

The Arizona Trail Association was awarded The Crescordia, Arizona Forward’s highest accolade, for its “unique approach to fostering long-term environmental sustainability throughout the state”. This award is well deserved: The Arizona Trail Association is behind a range of innovative programs such as the Seeds of Stewardship program, which encourages youth engagement, environmental education and stewardship; the Gateway Community program, which seeks to increase tourism and business development within the Arizona Trail’s 33 gateway communities; health and wellness challenges for the business community; and supporting Warrior Hikers to “walk off the war” along the Arizona Trail.

ACE is a strong supporter and partner of the Arizona Trail Association, and has contributed to the Arizona National Scenic Trail’s construction and maintenance for many years with thousands of hours of trail crew time dedicated to the task. On a personal level, Matt Roberts also serves as a volunteer Arizona Trail Steward for Segment 27c (Highline), volunteers with the Seeds of Stewardship program, and contributes, as an instructor, to the ATA Trail Work Training series.

Arizona Forward initiated the Environmental Excellence Awards in 1980 to recognize outstanding contributions to the physical environment of Arizona’s communities. The awards serve as a benchmark for promoting sustainability, conserving natural resources and preserving the unique desert environment for future generations. Over 120 entries were received in 2015, and 17 Crescordia Awards were given. To learn more, please visit arizonforward.org.

Pictured above are (left to right) Steve Seleznow, President & CEO, Arizona Community Foundation; Larry Snead, ATA Vice President of Board Development; Paul Burghard, Tonto National Forest; Lyn Harry White, former ATA Board Member; Eric Hiser, ATA Board President; Jan Hancock, ATA Board Secretary; Matt Roberts, Intermountain Region Director, American Conservation Experience; Dawn Collins, Chief of Resources & Public Programs, Arizona State Parks; and Robert Foster, ATA Supporter.

ACE receives American Trails Award!

We are proud to announce that ACE and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) have received the American Trails Partnership Award (Level One) at The International Trails Symposium which was held in Portland, Oregon on May 19-22.

ACE - LTBMU Partnership Award

ACE – LTBMU Partnership Award

The American Trails Partnership Level One award is granted to a partnership which benefits agencies or services within the field of trail planning, design, or implementation. ACE and LTBMU of the US Forest Service have partnered on projects since 2009. Most recently ACE and LTBMU partnered worked closely together on the Eagle Falls Trail Reconstruction Project, a 2.5 mile sustainable multi-use trail. This project alone has provided more than 50 young adults with valuable trail-building and conservation experience.

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American Trails National Award Seal

The American Trails Awards Program aims to recognize the tremendous contributions of volunteers, professionals, and other leaders who are working for the betterment of trails both nationally and internationally and in both rural and urban settings.

A big thank you to our staff and corps members who worked on this project, and to our fellow award winners and partner Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. Click here to read the full press release of the American Trail Awards.for a full description of the award and the ACE-LTBMU partnership visit the 2015 Partnership Award – Level 1 page on AmericanTrails.org

California Trails and Greenways Conference

The 30th Annual California Trails and Greeenways Conference was held at Yosemite National Park on April 22-24 2015. The conference is a 3-day training venue for trail professionals and advocates to learn practical, up-to-date trail skills; and provides a forum for collaborating on accessible and quality trail systems. The conference also acknowledges and shows appreciation for worthy individuals, organizations, agencies and businesses that, through their hard work, integrity and social responsibility, have made outstanding contributions to promote, enhance or expand public awareness and use of trails and greenways in California during the year.

The Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) Eagle Falls Trail Reconstruction Project, on which ACE Crews worked between April and October 2014, won the Merit Award for project development. Garret Villanueva accepted the award on behalf of LTBMU and took the opportunity to talk about the positive relationship with ACE, which has developed over the previous 6 years.

Steps on the Eagle Falls Trail - before and after

Steps on the Eagle Falls Trail – before and after

Another highlight of this year’s conference was the session hosted by ACE’s National Trails Trainer Patrick Parsel and National Trails Director, Mark Loseth. The session was titled ‘Maximizing Volunteers for Trail Work – recruit, train, retrain’ and aimed to provide land management agencies and “friends of” groups, who often rely on volunteers to perform a majority of their trail work, with the knowledge and expertise to effectively utilize the volunteer resource.

Mark Loseth presenting at the California Trails and Greenways conference

Mark Loseth presenting at the California Trails and Greenways conference

Patrick and Mark tapped into their extensive experiences of recruiting and training hundreds of volunteers at ACE, and explained how to make the most of a volunteer’s valuable time and contribution. A particular emphasis was placed on leadership skills, training methods, and methods to ensure volunteers keep coming back.

We at ACE are so very proud of Patrick, Mark, and all of the ACE corps members who worked so hard on the Eagle Falls Trail Reconstruction project last year. Thank you! We would also like to extend a thank you to the Lake Tahoe Basin Management team for your support and partnership. For more details about the California Trails and Greenways Conference please see their site.

ACE @ California Trails and Greenways Conference

ACE @ California Trails and Greenways Conference

ACE in The Corps Network Crew Leader

The latest edition of The Corps Network Crew Leader features an interview with Michael Muckle, the Director of the New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg. In the interview Michael talks about his excitement about developing a partnership with ACE, in particular putting ‘Waders In The Water’ trained corps members to work in New Jersey. The nationally recognized Waders in the Water training provides corps members with the skills and capacity to professionally complete aquatic restoration projects while preparing them for careers in the private restoration industry. Trout Headwaters Inc provides ACE Corps Members with the ‘Waders in the Water’ training that is instrumental to the project.

We at ACE are also very excited to be a part of this partnership, and to work alongside the corps members of the New Jersey Youth Corps. ACE and New Jersey Youth Corps are currently working side by side on the Mullica River headlands restoration project in New Jersey, planting native plant species.

Sunrise along the Mullica River

Sunrise along the Mullica River

For the full article please visit The Corps Network Crew Leader, or The Corps Network’s website.

Partner Showcase: Ventana Wilderness Alliance

This week we feature our partnership with the Ventana Wilderness Alliance (VWA), a non-profit grass roots organization dedicated to the protection, preservation, and restoration of the wilderness areas within California’s northern Santa Lucia Mountains and the Big Sur Coast (Featured header image. Photo credit: Brandon. Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Generic License).

ACE Crew working on the Ventana Wilderness Trail System

ACE Crew working on the Ventana Wilderness Trail System

ACE’s partnership with the VWA began with the opening of ACE California in 2007. Since then ACE corps members and volunteers have contributed tens of thousands of hours of work to the protection of the Ventana Wilderness, and to the maintenance of public trails within the Ventana back country. One of the stated purposes of the VWA is to nurture effective and cooperative relationships with similarly concerned organizations, and ACE is proud to find itself within this category.

The Ford F150 truck which ACE donated to the VWA in December 2014

The Ford F150 truck which ACE donated to the VWA in December 2014

In December 2014, ACE donated a Ford F150 truck to the VWA. The vehicle is of particular benefit to Youth In Wilderness, VWA Trail Crews, and Volunteer Wilderness Rangers as they continue their efforts to preserve, protect, and restore the Ventana Wilderness. Rich Popchak, Communications and Development Director at the VWA, expressed his gratitude to ACE President Chris Baker:

“The Ventana Wilderness Alliance greatly appreciates the 4-wheel drive pickup that the American Conservation Experience donated to our nonprofit organization. Not only will this vehicle simplify the administration of our stewardship activities, it will also improve employee happiness and retention since our staffers will not have to use their personal vehicles nearly as much as in the past. This is a win-win for our organization and our education partners in the Youth in Wilderness program. The VWA is very thankful to ACE for this donation and we look forward to working together to improve trail access in the Ventana and Silver Peak Wilderness areas in 2015.”

At the time of writing, ACE Crews are at work on the network of trails in the Silver Peak Wilderness (just south of the Ventana Wilderness). The crews are performing maintenance on the Cruikshank and Buckeye Trails. In April efforts will focus on the Black Cone Trail, part of the Tassajara Trail network.

ACE would like to thank the Ventana Wilderness Alliance for their continued support and partnership!

To read more about the Ventana Wilderness Alliance please visit their website, and check them out on Facebook.

Featured Project – Mullica River Restoration, New Jersey

ACE is currently at work in the state of New Jersey, restoring a wetland area along the Mullica River. The project is a collaboration of for-profit and non-profit organizations: GreenVest LLC is the sponsor and experienced leader in ecosystem restoration projects; Trout Headwaters Inc is a Montana-based industry leader in sustainable stream, wetland, and habitat restoration; and the New Jersey Youth Corps, a ‘second-chance’ program which offers youth aged between 16-25 the opportunity to both earn a high school-equivalent qualification, and gain work skills, through meaningful community service.

ACE AZ Director Jordan Rolfe, ACE Southeast Director Adam Scherm, and ACE volunteer Bhriana Malcolm complete an 'H' brace

ACE AZ Director Jordan Rolfe, ACE Southeast Director Adam Scherm, and ACE volunteer Bhriana Malcolm complete an ‘H’ brace

ACE is working with GreenVest to install over 4,000 ft of perimeter fencing to protect future plantings in a restored wetlands area at the headwaters of the Mullica River, in the heart of the Pinelands of southern New Jersey, just west of Wharton State Forest. On March 19, the crew will complete the perimeter fence which stands 8 feet tall, which will prevent deer from eating future plantings, and restrict the access of UTV traffic that would otherwise disturb the area.

The ACE Crew secure the fence to the posts.  ACE is installing 4,000ft of perimeter fence in the Murrica River headlands.

The ACE Crew secure the fence to the posts. ACE is installing 4,000ft of perimeter fence in the Murrica River headlands.

Trout Headwaters was instrumental to this project by providing ACE Corps Members with ‘Waders in the Water’ training. The nationally recognized Waders in the Water training provides corps members with the skills and capacity to professionally complete acquatic restoration projects while preparing them for careers in the private restoration industry.

In April, after the perimeter fencing is complete, ACE crews will work alongside youth from the New Jersey Youth Corps to plant native species in and around the wetlands. After 5 years, the fencing will be removed and the restored wetlands habitat will be a thriving ecosystem.

Partner Showcase: National Park of American Samoa

Ricky Misa'alefua plays the role of ricky the Crab as the 'turtle' students of Olosega Elementary School dash from their nest to the ocean. This game aims to demonstrate the benefits of synchronized hatching and predetor swarming.

Ricky Misa’alefua plays the role of ricky the Crab as the ‘turtle’ students of Olosega Elementary School dash from their nest to the ocean. This game aims to demonstrate the benefits of synchronized hatching and predetor swarming.

ACE is proud to serve as a convergence of cultures, where American youth and their international counterparts contribute equally to important restoration projects. When the National Park of American Samoa (NPSA) asked ACE staff to visit the US territory to help develop an American Samoan corps creating jobs and promoting economic self-sufficiency for local village youth, we were honored and excited. The resulting partnership, launched in October of 2011, engaged 25 American Samoan youth who were trained under the mentorship of NPSA biologists and deployed in NPSA’s longstanding efforts to purge American Samoa’s verdant native paleotropic rainforests from the ravenous invasion of exotic Tamaligi and Red Seed Trees. ACE’s American Samoan corps members accomplished 21,000 hours of restoration work during 2012 alone.

DNA testing is conducted to increase the understanding of the population structure of the sea turtles, and how the sea turtles of the Ofu region fit into that structure

DNA testing is conducted to increase the understanding of the population structure of the sea turtles, and how the sea turtles of the Ofu region fit into that structure

Since then this partnership with the NPSA has continued to flourish. ACE has more recently been involved in further efforts to eradicate the Tamaligi trees, and also in a project which aims to mitigate further decline of the endangered Green and Hawksbill sea turtle populations in the Ofu region of the park. The sea turtle project is featured in our winter edition of ACEbook which can be read here.

The common theme of all the projects in which ACE is involved in on American Samoa is the recruitment, training, and continued mentoring of local American Samoan youth. Through ACE’s partnership with NPSA, unemployed local youth are converted into conservationalists, working to protect their native environment. To this day ACE is honored to be a partner of the NPSA, and to be involved in efforts to conserve American Samoa.

For more information about NPSA and their valuable contribution to conservation on American Samoa, please visit their social media outlets on Facebook, Instagram, the blog sphere, and the NPS website.

Installation of informational billboards such of these play a vital role in educating the public about the scarcity of native sea turtle populations

Installation of informational billboards such of these play a vital role in educating the public about the scarcity of native sea turtle populations

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