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Petrified Forest National Park – Arizona

dsc_9488Come rain or shine….

ACE Arizona had a crew on a three day project in the Petrified Forest National Park. The crew was planning on working on the ground maintenance around the housing units in the park and were able to complete a weeding project for the park.


Inclement weather sometimes detours our plans. Outdoor projects are sometimes postponed due to the weather in the area where crews are working. For this project the access road the crews were to use was flooded and inaccessible.


When weather changes our project plans our crews make the best use of their time by building relationships with the National Park Service employees. The park rangers were kind enough to take the crew on an educational hike through the park. They went into detail about how the Petrified Forest came to be and showed the crew members some of the easily overlooked details.

Petrified wood is a fossil that forms when the wood is covered in sediment. When the wood is buried under the sediment the wood is protected from decay. Over time the plant material in the wood is replaced by silica, calcite and pyrite.


Thank you to our friends at NPS – Petrified Forest for hosting us and giving our corps members a wonderful service learning opportunity.


Lime Kiln Trail – Sedona, Arizona


During the week of January 11th, 2017, an ACE Arizona crew began trail maintenance on the Lime Kiln Trail in Dead Horse Ranch State Park. This 15 mile trail connects Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood to Red Rock State Park in Sedona. This historic trail was once used by horse drawn wagons to transport local produce, wine and bricks between communities in the Verde Valley.

 Jimmy Gregson, ACE Conservation Trainer and Coordinator, teaches new crew members about building sustainable trails.

Jimmy Gregson, ACE Conservation Trainer and Coordinator, teaches new crew members about building sustainable trails.

Today the trail is use by mountain bikers, equestrians and hikers looking to get out and enjoy the valley’s landscapes and travel along parts of the historic wagon road. In celebration of the US Forest Service’s 100th birthday in 2005 the trail was listed as a Centennial Trail. The ACE crew worked closely with the US Forest Service on this project.


ACE crew worked closely with the US Forest Service Crew.

This project was a first for most of our corps members who just began with ACE at the start of the year. This team was led by Senior Crew Leader John Donovan. The crew was taken on a threatened species walk with the US Forest Service’s Wildlife Biologist and were shown Hohokam agave, Tonto Basin agave, heath leaf wild buckwheat, hualapai milkwort, ripely buckwheat, Arizona cliffrose and Verde Valley sage so that they could avoid damaging these plants during trail work.

ACE crew being taught by US Forest Service's Wildlife Biologist about the threatened plants along the Lime Kiln Trail.

ACE crew being taught by US Forest Service’s Wildlife Biologist about the threatened plants along the Lime Kiln Trail.

This is the third project in the Redrocks region and ACE plans to continue sending crews to the area until March. The crews will be maintaining the trail while preserving the threatened plant species and the historic rock walls throughout the trail.

ACE Phoenix Field School Program

fs-trails-trainingThe new ACE Phoenix Field School Crew started their 16-week education and field certification program last week.

During last week’s orientation, the Phoenix-based ACE crew geared up for an exciting field season learning about the different ecosystems of Arizona, pertinent conservation issues in the Southwest, and field leadership and team-building activities, as well as participating in ACE Restoration and Trails Theory training’s.

fs-restoration-trianing-gps-2Follow ACE’s page to learn all about the different projects that our ACE Field School crew will work on during the next 16 weeks!

The ACE Field School program is in partnership with the BLM Phoenix District Office, Arizona Call-a-Teen Youth Resources (ACYR), and Phoenix College.

Maricopa Trail – Prickly Pedal Bike Race Trail


During the week of January 9th, 2017 ACE began work on the Prickly Pedal Mountain Bike Race Trail.

In agreement with the Maricopa County Parks and Recreation Department, ACE will be working on this ongoing project over the next three years.dsc_8666

The Maricopa Trail helps preserve the wilderness of the Sonoran Desert by keeping foot and bike traffic concentrated to the trail. The crew lead by Ben Richard was clearing and repairing parts of the trail which included digging drains and making sure the clearance on the trail was wide and tall enough for bikers to pass.dsc_8502

The bike race took place along the northern section of Maricopa Trail in the Sonoran Desert on January 21st. The proceeds of the Prickly Pedal Mountain Bike Race will go to support the Maricopa Trail and Park Foundation.


Wire Mesa Mountain Bike Trail Project – Utah


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 Wire Mesa 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.


Wire Mesa 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.


ACE starts the New Year with Crew Leader Training in Flagstaff, AZ


National Restoration Program Manager, Afton McKusick, reviews chainsaw maintenance and troubleshooting.

Starting the week of January 3rd, 2017 ACE staff is hitting the ground running after the holidays and prepping for the upcoming project season. This week at ACE’s national headquarters in Flagstaff, AZ, crew leaders are going through intensive training’s and refresher courses given by ACE trainers and staff.


Senior ACE Crew Leader, John Donovan has been training up and coming crew leaders for the last 10 plus years. His knowledge and expertise has been invaluable to the organization. Here, John and staff are reviewing and familiarizing themselves with the GPS units.

Crew leaders carry an immense amount of responsibility and are crucial to keeping ACE functioning and completing projects. Crew leaders are not only responsible for the quality and completion of projects but they also train, motivate and keep corp members safe during eight day projects and throughout their terms with ACE. They do this all while making the experience rewarding, educational and fun for corps members.


Field Operations Manager, Evan Thibodeau, reviews vehicle engine maintenance.

ACE’s trained crew leaders will be reviewing all of the skills required to lead crews safely and effectively in the field. They will be going over safety and physical skills including first aid refresher courses, vehicle maintenance and trails and chainsaw training.


Kip Valesano, Field Operation Manager from ACE Utah reviews the steps of assessing an injured person during the first aid refresher.

Crew leaders will also be given training in leadership styles, delegation and possible scenarios they might face in the field. Problem solving and leadership skills are paramount to the effectiveness of each and every crew leader.


Crew leaders practice using GIS (Geographic Information Systems) technology.

The week long intensive training’s and preparations at the start of the New Year are vital as ACE staff prepares to bring in the newest group of corps members, as well as welcoming back our returning corps members.


#IamACE – Meet Kyia Foster

We had a few minutes to catch up with Corps Member, Kyia Foster this past fall as she was volunteering at the Grand Canyon. Like all of our amazing corps members, Kyia was very busy working on a trail. We were happy she had a moment to take a break and tell us a little about herself and her experience with ACE. Thanks Kyia! kyia3

Can you tell me a little bit about your background and what drew you to the world of environmental conservation?

I was born in Illinois, raised in Georgia. I had no knowledge of the outdoors until I came to college and I worked at an outdoor recreation center doing trips, rentals, and a rock-wall challenge course. From there, I was a part of the Outdoor Recreation Conference and they send out emails about all outdoor jobs and everything like that and I got something through them about ACE. I graduated in December and I was just working and I really wanted to see if ACE and conservation work was a path I wanted to pursue for the future. I studied Health Care Administration so this has been pretty different for me.

What has been a challenge and a highlight for you?

For me, the most challenging thing is hiking. I know I am a slow hiker but I like to keep up with everyone else but they have a naturally fast pace and I do not. I like to coast, we’ll say. The work is good, it brings me back to my working days. It’s different every time we go out. The highlight for me is the view and getting to know more people so when we go back to off days I actually know who these people are and were able to hang out if we want to. And that we can go wherever we want to on our off days. As far as the work goes, it’s very just rewarding in itself.


Where are you hoping that this position with ACE leads you in future?

Already, I know that I should get on USA Jobs and if I do want to do outdoor recreation type of work, I should possibly serve another AmeriCorps term or something similar, perhaps at a park or even with the National Parks Service. I’m thinking about the National Parks Service but that’s probably because all of the hitches that I have been on have been in the Grand Canyon so that’s the only thing I have been involved with. So far that’s what I’m thinking but I don’t know for certain.


What sets ACE apart from other positions you have had in the past?

I do think that it’s good that you get that taste of different things when you go on hitches because you are able to network and speak with the project partners or the crew leaders and get a feel of how they got to where they are. I like to ask the people I work with how they got to where they are which gives me more ideas about where I want to go. And I think the variety is great. kyia-2

EPIC Experience! Meet EPIC Intern, Sam Dillon – GLCA

Meet EPIC intern Sam Dillon. Sam spent this past season working at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.


He just recently extended his time there to assist with a big Volunteer Day engaging the public to assist with the maintenance of “Lonely Dell” an Historical District of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Sam’s internship duties are varied but he has been integral in assisting the Branch of Cultural Resources Chief and the Park Archaeologist at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area on various cultural resources management assignments, focused mainly on archaeology.


Sam also supports the Graffiti Removal and Intervention Team (GRIT). The primary task is to clear areas through conducting NHPA Section 106 on areas identified for graffiti removal around Lake Powell. Includes fieldwork, research, monitoring, and record keeping.


Supporting GLCA’s archaeologist in implementing the Off Road Vehicle Management Plan Programmatic Agreement is also part of Sam’s internship duties. This requires him to survey, work on archaeological reports,  research, and complete GIS work. He is also assisting in Section 106 compliance included field survey and inventory, collections management, tribal relations, and cultural resource stewardship planning.

Thanks to Sam for his hard work and sharing his EPIC Experience!


Lake Mead – Song Dog Native Plant Nursery

dsc_3249-2This past October 2016 an ACE Arizona crew, in partnership with the National Park Service, was working at Song Dog Native Plant Nursery in Lake Mead, Nevada. The scope of the project was to prepare the greenhouse and nursery to host new plants.30588307046_f23f35f14a_k

The crew was a compilation of corps members from ACE’s California and Arizona branches led by crew leader, Morgane Rigney


The goal is to get over 30,000 seedlings to a plantable size by next year for restoration projects. ACE’s efforts were focused on helping the nursery reach this goal by assisting with an array of different tasks.dsc_3705

The nursery salvages plants that have been saved from natural disaster or construction sites, as well as raising their own plants. The crew helped clean up plant storage areas, washed pots for new plants, recycled soil from plants that didn’t make it and sowed Joshua Tree seeds.30507395192_bfc779aa64_k

Crew members prepared the cartridges for the seeds, mixed the soil, and then placed the Joshua Tree seeds into the cartridges. The nursery has a goal of over 10,000 Joshua Trees for the future. In the past crews have also assisted in the cleaning and drying of plant seeds. 30624321805_e45d52ab18_k

This project will continue into next year with crews weeding, planting and building fence for the nursery.




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