In summer 2017, four local high school students from Akron, Ohio participating in the six-week ACE Youth Conservation Corps program (YCC) joined ACE EPIC Intern Carlyn Mitchell at Cuyahoga Valley National Park to assist the National Park Service (NPS) with a variety of natural resource management projects there. NPS has produced a wonderful video series called the “Outside Science (Inside Parks)” initiative.This video showcases the pollinator field research study. Click here to learn more about the research taking place at Cuyahoga Valley National Park
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.
The past summer ACE Arizona partnered with the City of Flagstaff, the US Forest Service, the Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project and the National Forest Foundation to complete an 18-week forest thinning project in the Coconino National Forest, in the Dry Lakes Hill Region. This area has not had previous fuels management, leaving it at high risk for future catastrophic wildfires and post-fire flood impacts. ACE is proud to share this video as a representation of the great work being done within our local community to help keep the city of Flagstaff a safe and healthy place to live and the wonderful collaborative efforts of our partners.
Thank you to our amazing partners who contributed to the making of this video
One of ACE’s longest running partnerships is with the Grand Canyon National Park. This past summer and in to the fall ACE crews worked on several of the many trails in and around the canyon.
ACE had two crews working on two different trails in the canyon, the Bright Angel and the Hermit trail. The crew on Bright Angel was led by ACE crew leader, Hannah Baskin and the Hermit trail crew was led by ACE crew leader, Stephanie Gonzales. Both of these trails experience heavy foot traffic in the summer months. In addition to hikers, the Bright Angel trail also supports mules tours as well as pack mules throughout the year.
Both crews were performing cyclical maintenance on the trails. This usually encompasses widening tread, clearing drains, reinforcing water bars, brushing and clearing the trail of any obstacles. The canyon trails require attention all year long because of the constant erosion that happens within the canyon walls.
On the Bright Angel trail the crew was performing general maintenance as well as assisting the National Parks Service trail crew with a rock work project. Some of the crew members were on patrol to make sure that hikers were safe while the work was being completed and other crew members got to try their hand at the rock drill.
On the Hermit trail the crew was using a grip hoist to move some large boulders from the trail. Using rock bars the crew was able to move boulders out of the main trail and repair parts of the trail that were eroded by flooding.
Going into the fall ACE crews will continue working further down the Bright Angel Trail and eventually to Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the canyon. Our staff and corps members continue to feel grateful that they are able to serve in and contribute to the protection of this park.
This past September ACE Arizona worked with Coronado National Forest Service on an eight day project to install wilderness signs.
The area that the crew was working in is known as Ramsey Canyon. The high walls of the canyon provide a moist, cool environment in the midst of a desert. This environment allows for a range of biodiversity not found in many other places in Arizona. In any given spot you might see sycamores, maples, and columbines growing alongside desert plants such as cacti and agaves. Ramsey Canyon is located southwest of Tucson, very close to the border of Mexico.
The crew was led by ACE crew leader, Matt Donaldson. The main objective of this project was to remove and replace wilderness trail signs along the Hamburg Trail. These signs, that hikers may only spend a few seconds looking at, are crucial to the hikers experience of a trail. The reassurance of knowing you are hiking in the right direction and getting back on the right track if you aren’t greatly reduces the chances of search and rescue situations.
The work behind these signs is a little bit more involved than you might imagine. The ACE crew started by finding the right size and shape juniper trees. Once the crew cut the right trees for the sign posts they removed the bark from the logs. Removing the bark helps preserve the sign posts for longer because the bark holds in moisture and causes rot. These logs are then carried up the trail by foot by ACE corps members. The crew then dug holes and leveled the posts in the ground and attached the signs. The last set of signs were estimated to have lasted about fifteen years on the trail and hopefully these signs will last just as long if not longer.
What a wonderful collaboration between the City of Sustainability, our friends at Willow Bend Environmental Education Center and all of the other partner organizations, City and County staff and members of our beautiful community of Flagstaff. Our hats off to all of you. THANK YOU! -Article Courtesy of Arizona Daily Sun
Make a Difference Day, Oct. 28, 2017, at Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, volunteers participate in effort to restore Willow Bend habitat gardens, establish native vegetation on slopes, and clean up trash along the Rio de Flag below gardens at 703 E. Sawmill Road, Flagstaff, Arizona
Volunteers working to restore a native habitat garden at Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, during Make a Difference Day, Oct. 28, 2017, volunteers participate in effort to restore Willow Bend habitat gardens, establish native vegetation on slopes, and clean up trash along the Rio de Flag below gardens at 703 E. Sawmill Road, Flagstaff, Arizona
American Conservation Experience, AmeriCorps member, Brandi Kapos, cleaning out the pond at Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, during Make a Difference Day, Oct. 28, 2017, volunteers participate in effort to restore Willow Bend habitat gardens, establish native vegetation on slopes, and clean up trash along the Rio de Flag below gardens at 703 E. Sawmill Road, Flagstaff, Arizona
American Conservation Experience, AmeriCorps member, moving a load of mulch, Make a Difference Day, Oct. 28, 2017, at Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, volunteers participate in effort to restore Willow Bend habitat gardens, establish native vegetation on slopes, and clean up trash along the Rio de Flag below gardens at 703 E. Sawmill Road, Flagstaff, Arizona
Kevin Sperzel, a American Conservation Experience, AmeriCorps member, thinning a rabbitbrush, during Make a Difference Day, Oct. 28, 2017, at Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, volunteers participate in effort to restore Willow Bend habitat gardens, establish native vegetation on slopes, and clean up trash along the Rio de Flag below gardens at 703 E. Sawmill Road, Flagstaff, Arizona
Volunteers work to stabilize steep slope with wattles during Make a Difference Day, Oct. 28, 2017, at Willow Bend Environmental Education Center, volunteers participate in effort to restore Willow Bend habitat gardens, establish native vegetation on slopes, and clean up trash along the Rio de Flag below gardens at 703 E. Sawmill Road, Flagstaff, Arizona
In 2016 ACE had the honor of partnering with Arizona State Parks to construct 3.5 miles of new trail in memory of the 19 hotshot firefighters who lost their lives in the Yarnell Hill Fire of 2013.
The Granite Mountain Hotshot Memorial State Park is now open to hikers to walk the trail to the memorial and fatality site and to learn about wild fire prevention and the events of the Yarnell Hill Fire.
We would like to share this video as a representation of our ACE corps members and staff experience of working on this trail for the Granite Mountain Hotshots.
ACE would like to dedicate this video in memory of the 19 fallen firefighters who risked their lives to make others safe.
Video Courtesy of American Conservation Experience (JPlance)
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.
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 fallen, dead trees are bucked up into smaller sections before the crew debarks the sections.
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).
An Arizona Snowbowl employee holds out an adult bark beetle.
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.
These dark channels are referred to as “galleries” and are where the bark beetle larva live. This image is the top layer of bark removal. The crew is completely removing the bark and the larva.
Interested in gaining wilderness medicine training? Wilderness First Aid (WFA) is a great training opportunity for outdoor enthusiasts, trip leaders, or those interested in learning basics of backcountry medical care! WFA is a 16-hour long (two day) interactive, hands –on course that focuses on the basic skills of: Response and Assessment, Musculoskeletal Injuries, Environmental Emergencies, Survival Skills, Soft Tissue Injuries and Medical Emergencies. During the course, you will participate in classroom trainings supplemented with hands-on field practical field scenarios learning how to respond to the different medical situations. Upon completion of the 16-hour course, you will receive a SOLO WFA certification which is good for two years. A large part of wilderness medicine is learning to improvise medical necessities (splints, padding for broken arms, for example) from the materials you have with you when you are outdoors. So, please bring your backpack with some equipment that you would normally have with you are outdoors, such as a backpack, fleece, sleeping pad/bag, bandana, etc.
When: September 21st– 22nd, 2017, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Where: Corpus Christi, Texas (Course will take place at the RTA Staples Building – 602 N Staples St. Corpus Christi, TX 78401).
Who: The WFA Course will be taught by SOLO, a national leader in wilderness medicine and is hosted by American Conservation Experience (ACE), a nonprofit conservation corps.
Course details: The course will cost: $160 and which includes the course tuition and books as well as lunch each day. To learn more about what to expect during the WFA experience, please check out the SOLO WFA curriculum website page: http://soloschools.com/wilderness-first-aid-wfa/