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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

8 things you didn’t know about…

…AmeriCorps.

Next week, March 9 – 13 2015, is AmeriCorps Week, a time when the commitment of AmeriCorps members and alums, and the extraordinary impact AmeriCorps makes across our nation every day, is highlighted and recongized.

With AmeriCorps Week just a few days away we thought it was time for an education on AC. So here were present ‘8 things you did not know about AmeriCorps’. Thanks to Ben Pohl, our AmeriCorps Program Supervisor in Salt Lake City, for sharing his knowledge and experience of the AmeriCorps program!

  1. You can join AmeriCorps Alums BEFORE you finish up your program and reap the benefits of the group such as networking with 10s of thousands of AmeriCorps members, receive free online tax prep, and utilizes their free online resources. Click here to find out more and join!
  2. AmeriCorps was formed with a bipartisan effort from former Republican President George Bush Senior and former Democratic President Bill Clinton.
  3. There are over 75,000 AmeriCorps members each year and more than 900,000 thousand AmeriCorps members have contributed over 1.2 billion service hours
  4. AmeriCorps serve on projects in the issue areas of environmental stewardship, disaster services, economic opportunity, education, healthy futures, and veterans and military families.
  5. Some schools will match your Eli Segal education award! Click here to see a list of schools that will match your award. Contact the school directly for more details.
  6. If you’ve ever wanted to learn a new specialized skill, your Ed award can help pay for the classes towards your new hobby. Alums have previously used their ed award towards specialized classes, such as photography, EMT training, and even SCUBA certification. With all of these options, make sure to check with your education institution or student loan companies to see if they accept the Ed award as a form of payment.
  7. You can wait to use your education award until 7 years. If it is cutting is close to the 7 years you can apply for an extension!
  8. The Eli Segal Education award can be transferred to your spouse or children. Click here to find out more information.

If you know of additional little-known facts of the AmeriCorps program please feel free to share them in the comments below.

Partner Showcase: Pacific Crest Trail Association

American Conservation Experience has become a national leader within the corps movement due to the amazing partnerships we have forged. Over the coming months we will proudly showcase our partners, and help spread the word about their organizations and the work they do. This week is dedicated to to the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA), the Pacific Crest Trail’s champion and steward.

Corps members on the PCT. Courtesy of Andrew Fish.

Corps members on the PCT. Courtesy of Andrew Fish.

The PCTA is a non-profit singularly focused on the preservation, protection, and promotion of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), the long distance trail that travels between the US-Mexico and US-Canadian borders, traversing the states of California, Oregon, and Washington. Stewardship of the PCT is no small feat: The PCT is 2,663 miles long with a cumulative elevation change of 402,880ft, or to put it another way, 80 miles!

View from the PCT. Courtesy of Andrew Fish.

View from the PCT. Courtesy of Andrew Fish.

ACE is into it’s 3rd year of partnership with the PCTA. The partnership is particularly noteworthy for several reasons.

First is the far-reaching geographical and temporal extent of the project. For up to 26 weeks of the year, an ACE crew works on sections of the PCTA from southern California, right up into Washington. Projects are scheduled so work is completed at the lower elevations during the winter months, and the higher elevations during the summer. In 2015 we will have 2 crews working on the trail, for 26 and 14 weeks.

Second is the level of partnership and engagement involved in each project. Along its course, the PCTA travels through public and private land. Therefore on any project there is the interest of a land management agency, such as the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management, or land owner. Furthermore, the PCTA provides a trail advisor to work alongside the ACE crew on each project. And finally, there are often some PCTA volunteers who join the ACE crew for up to 9 days at a time. This makes for a very positive experience for all involved.

ACE Crew at work on the PCT. Courtesy of Andrew Fish

ACE Crew at work on the PCT. Courtesy of Andrew Fish

This post features some pictures of a recent ACE crew at work on the PCT. Photos are courtesy of Andrew Fish, a Technical Advisor for the PCTA, who worked alongside the crew. The photos are also featured in a post that Andrew recently wrote about life as a professional trail builder which is well worth a read. For more information about the PCTA head on over to their site.

PCTA, thanks for the great work that you do preserving, protecting, and promoting one of America’s national treasures, and thank you for partnering with ACE!

ACE at work on the PCT. Courtesy of Andrew Fish

ACE at work on the PCT. Courtesy of Andrew Fish

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