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Hunting Island State Park | Diamondback Rattlesnake Trail

       Hunting Island, South Carolina gives life to non-typical work environment for our ACE Southeast branch. The island’s semi-tropical climate is home to cabbage palmetto, live oaks draped in Spanish moss and towering slash pines, which paint a different picture for the corps members whose office usually take the form of the Appalachian Mountains and deciduous forests.

 

This past August, a Southeast crew led by ACE Crew Leader, Nicole MacNamee was in charge of the rehabilitation of the Diamondback Rattlesnake trail at Hunting Island State Park over the course of two project weeks. This trail, which is 2.3 miles, connects the southern end Nature Center to the northern end Park Office. However, the trail has been out of commission in the aftermath of hurricane Matthew. The hurricane brought down trees and debris leaving the trail almost indistinguishable. Flooding and the lack of regular cyclical maintenance have caused the trail to become overgrown with vegetation as well.

The ACE crew brushed back vegetation and grubbed out roots where necessary with a combination of chainsaws, brush cutters and hand tools to open up the corridor to 6 feet wide and 8 feet high. Much of the tread surface, comprised of sand, has been covered by a thick layer of duff made of pine needles and oak leaves. The tread was re-exposed by raking off the duff layer using a combination of leaf blowers, McCleods, and hand rakes.

To avoid the heat of the day, the crew started work at 6:30 am but were fortunate to camp on the beach for a post-work reprieve. This state park is very popular, bringing in upwards of a million visitors each year to hike its trails and witness the areas’ wildlife and beaches. ACE is proud to be a part of rehabilitating this trail to allow visitors to hike along its ancient sand dunes and semi-tropical maritime forest once more.

https://southcarolinaparks.com/hunting-island

Bryce Canyon National Park | Fencing

A lesser-known form of conservation is the building and repair of cattle fences on public lands. Cattle grazing takes place adjacent to many protected areas such as Bryce Canyon National Park. This summer, crews from ACE’s Mountain West branch worked to fix old fence line and build new fence in Utah’s iconic National Park. 

Cattle that have wandered past their grazing grounds are known as “trespass cattle”, these cattle have created a potential issue at a well site in Bryce Canyon. Old and broken fences likely allowed these cattle to wander this close to the well site. A wildfire a few years ago has also contributed to fence damage. The burned trees have begun falling on the fence line, taking down parts of the fence.

This project was completed in partnership with the National Park Service at Bryce Canyon National Park. ACE is proud to return to work at this beautiful National Park and to be a part of protecting its natural resources.

The ACE crew was responsible for repairing the fence and building a new fence to be cattle proof with the goal of protecting the water of  Bryce Canyon National Park and Bryce Canyon City. The work was completed using fencing pliers, fence stretcher, post hole diggers, digging bars, picks, shovels, saws, and pounders. 

Bryce Canyon National Park | Prairie Dog Habitat Restoration

Throughout summer 2018, ACE Mountain-West had crews on a habitat restoration project with Bryce Canyon National Park. With the goal of protecting the threatened Utah Prairie Dog, the crews worked to remove rubber rabbitbrush around existing prairie dog habitat.

Facing habitat loss, plague, predation and livestock grazing in their habitat, the Utah Prairie Dog population has taken a hit. In the 1920s an attempt to control their populations by poisoning the colonies and agricultural and grazing activities devastated the population. By the early 1970s, the Utah Prairie Dog had been eliminated from major portions of its historical range and had declined to an estimated 3,300 individuals distributed among 37 Utah Prairie Dog colonies.

Today the populations have increased and stabilized, but there is still work being done to maintain these numbers, especially in Bryce Canyon National Park where recent exposure to the plague have impacted population numbers. Prairie dogs burrow underground to build their homes as protection from predators. They do this in groups, burrowing extensive channels called “towns” to live in with their clan. Rabbitbrush grows too high for the prairie dogs to be able to spot their prey so in turn, when the brush grows to high the prairie dogs will abandon their “towns.”

To combat this, our ACE crew, led ACE Crew Leader by Katey Hockenbury worked to remove invasive brush around their habitat within the Park. The crew tracked their progress with pin flags and GPS coordinates in the sea of rabbitbrush they were removing.

https://www.nps.gov/brca/index.htm

BioBlast! – And EPIC Youth Event

Our 2018 BLM DHA Wildlife Technician Intern, Esther Daraciang, who is serving with the BLM Salt Lake Field Office, developed and hosted BioBlast!, an environmental education event that hosted 100 local students from a partnering elementary school in Salt Lake City.

Students traveled up to Big Cottonwood Canyon at Silver Lake and spent the day participating in wildlife viewing (searching for Pikas), identifying local fish, and learned about water cycles and macro-invertebrates!

Esther is an intern with ACE EPIC and the BLM, and invited ACE EPIC staff to come volunteer for the day with these youth. ACE staff had the opportunity to volunteer with current interns, alumni, BLM staff, and local volunteers, as well as supporting all the students who attended the event!

Thank you to our EPIC staff  and Alumni for participating in this event: Kelly Barrett, Erin Mounce, Katelyn Jordan, Suzy Lee, and Melissa Early. ACE Interns – Esther Daraciang, Nichole ‘Nik’ MacPhee .  ACE Alumni (now BLM Employees) – Tess Webb, Clayton Anderson, Adam Erdmann, Hannah Cowen, Mitchell Kleimeyer.

A special thank you to Esther Daraciang who put together this video highlighting this amazing environmental education event.

 

Stateside Adjustments

Stateside Adjustments

by: Alysha Page

Obligatory tourist photo next to a telephone booth in London, UK.

After the “Women’s Spring Conference: Feminism, Nationalism, and Civil Disobedience” at University of Central Lancashire it was time to readjust to office work in Washington, D.C.. For the last two weeks the name of the game is organization and secondary source research. Unfortunately, folks, that doesn’t make for a very lively blog posting. I thought it may be useful to talk about the way I try and organize a long term project.

Firstly, perhaps the most important when working with a team is to request a clear definition of the project goals. This will be your “North Star” throughout the long process of researching and writing. Often research and sources will lead us down multiple paths, the project goals or guidelines should remain visible so that they can point your way to a successful final project. If you don’t know the goals of your project seek clarification.

In the office at the DOI. I decided to sport my ACE gear.

Secondly, it is imperative to have the proper stationary and research tools that you need. Oh, it seems like a joke now… just wait until you are deep into a source and realize you don’t have your favorite pen, notebooks, sticky notes, computer access, etc. . Creating an atmosphere for a successful project includes making sure that you have all the tools you need to complete your work. Even something as simple as a not having a notebook or binder to keep your research can inhibit the flow of a project. So, make your nearest stationary shop your best friend.

Going through General Records of the Department of the Navy 1804-1983 at NARA.

Thirdly, try and create a strong secondary source foundation before diving into primary source material. The more you know about the time period you are researching the better adept you will be at pinpointing what archival material you need to search through. This will cut back a bit on the random fruitless searches.

Lastly, and certainly, not least find the best environment to do research (that is if it isn’t archival research). I have found some nice places around the Department of the Interior (DOI) to study, like the library, other than staying in the office. Changing study locations can really break up the work week and keep things interesting during the secondary research portion of your project.

Going to the Interior Library is a nice way to break up a day in the office.

I wish I could write a more interesting post, but research work and organization is not the most glamorous but it is vital to a successful project.

Meet Me, My Park, and My Rocks

Meet Me, My Park, and My Rocks

by: Mariah Walzer

Trying on my Dad’s old Park Service hat

Hello everyone and welcome to the world of archaeology at Monocacy National Battlefield! First up, a couple quick introductions. My name is Mariah Walzer, and I am the Archaeological Research and Cultural Resource Management Intern at Monocacy this summer. I graduated from Hamilton College in 2017 with my Bachelor’s in archaeology and creative writing. I love getting my hands dirty and geeking out about old things. My dad is a retired National Park Ranger, so I’m excited to be continuing the family legacy!

A display at the Visitor Center. The quote reads: “Here was a race between the two great contending forces, the state of which was the capital of the nation, its treasure and its prestige.” – Civilian Glenn Worthington

 

Second introduction: the park! Monocacy National Battlefield is located just outside of Frederick, Maryland. It’s the site of an 1864 Civil War battle and also a camping place for Union and Confederate troops in 1862 and 1863. The Battle of Monocacy is not well-known, but was quite important to the outcome of the war. In short, Confederate troops were marching towards Washington D.C., and Major General Lew Wallace, with vastly outnumbered and largely unexperienced Union troops, held them off for a day, just enough time for Union reinforcements to arrive in D.C. to protect the nation’s capital. Who knows what would have happened if the Confederate Army had not been delayed and succeeded in capturing Washington?

Map of Monocacy National Battlefield. From the Monocacy National Battlefield website.

In addition to the Civil War history, Monocacy also showcases agricultural life in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including slavery at L’Hermitage farm. Much of my work so far also involves the Native American artifacts found in the park, which date back more than 10,000 years ago. This is one of the things that I really love about archaeology: getting to discover and tell the stories of people who don’t have their own voice in history, the lesser known stories of a place.

I started my internship almost two weeks ago now, and I have been busy busy busy. The big project we’re working on right now is completing ASMIS surveys for the park. Essentially, this means going around to known archaeological sites and checking on them, making sure no one is digging or vandalizing them and looking for any artifacts that may have moved to the surface in the last year. Thankfully, the sites have all been in good condition so far, and we’ve found a few artifacts too!

View of Best Farm, also known as L’Hermitage. In 1800, this farm was home to ninety enslaved persons, the second largest population of slaves in Frederick County. Photo from the Monocacy National Battlefield Facebook page.

View of Thomas Farm from my living quarters. The building to the far right, most hidden by trees, is where I work on the days I’m in the office.

Taking notes on a projectile point we found during survey. This is the bottom of a Savannah River Point which dates somewhere between 3650 BC and 1525 BC.

When we find projectile points, I try to identify what type they belong to. Archaeologists group projectile points from a specific region by shape and size to create categories, known as types. Because we know roughly when each type of point was common, we can then use the projectile point types we find to date a site.

Another project I worked on last week was creating a display of stone tools for the Visitor Center. I identified the tools, wrote labels and little informational blurbs for them, and then used PowerPoint to design the layout of the whole display. It was fun putting my museum studies knowledge to work!

Laying out the artifacts for the display – five projectile points, a piece of groundstone broken in two, and a cupstone (a form of groundstone with a cup-shaped indentation).

I used PowerPoint to design the layout for the artifacts and accompanying text. PowerPoint is great because it allows you to make your slide fit the size of the display, so you can know exactly how much space every piece takes up.

I suppose now would be as good a time as any to go through some vocabulary that may come up:

  • Lithics – stone tools, including projectile points and groundstone
  • Projectile points – the term archaeologists use for the pointed tools that tip arrow and spear shafts, commonly known as “arrowheads”
  • Groundstone – stone that has been smoothed and shaped either for a specific purpose (like an axe or mortar and pestle) or through use (like a flour grinding stone)
  • Flake – a small piece of stone that is knocked off when making stone tools
  • Biface – a stone tool that has flakes taken off on two sides
  • Uniface – a stone tool that has flakes taken off on only one side
  • Ceramics – pottery of any kind
  • Sherd – a broken piece of pottery or glass
  • Survey – a systematic way of looking for artifacts or sites, usually on the surface; often a survey involves walking across an area in straight, parallel lines evenly spaced apart

Archaeologists use a lot of jargon, so feel free to leave me a comment if I ever use a term that you’re unfamiliar with, and I’ll be happy to define it for you!

That’s all for now!

Mount Sanitas Trail

A “typical” term with ACE South West varies from corps member to corps member but on average when members come in; they spend three to six months getting sent to a variety of projects and locations. For the last six months, however,  ACE had one crew working on a project in Boulder, Colorado from start to finish.

                                                                                  

The project took place on the Mount Sanitas Trail in partnership with the City of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks. The crew was led by ACE Crew Leader, Kaitlin Egan and ACE Project Manager, David Vayhinger. Located within the city of Boulder, the trail is just a half mile west of 4th Street on Mapleton Avenue. Mount Sanitas Trail is a moderate to difficult, heavily trafficked trail which offers beautiful views as well as access to several bouldering areas.

From March until August of 2019 the crew worked on general trail maintenance but more significantly, they built an expansive rock staircase which totaled in 39 rock steps being installed. The crew also put in a 228 square foot retaining wall. Grip hoists, rock bars, and drills allowed the crew to move, shape and position the rocks into these formations. This rockwork project has been a considerable undertaking for the ACE crew and staff who worked and lived side by side for the duration of the project.

   

ACE is thankful to have worked with the City of Boulder on this project and hope to continue to have our corps members learn and grow alongside the Open Space and Mountain Parks staff.

El Yunque National Forest – Puerto Rico

On June 25th, 2018 our ACE Southeast branch had 5 amazing high school graduates begin 300 hour AmeriCorps terms. These eager young people had never heard of AmeriCorps until they had learned of the  opportunity to serve with ACE in their native, Puerto Rico.

This crew worked in the El Yunque  National Forest which is located on the eastern side of the island. El Yunque is a lush tropical rainforest and national reserve known for rare trees and birds with many camping and hiking trails. This particular area was hit very hard by Hurricane Maria, and the vast majority of it is still not open. There is debris on the trails, as well as affected roads that make traversing the forest unsafe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This team, led by crew leader Alberto Rivera Rodriguez,  is working hard alongside United States Forest Service staff to help restore and open one of the landmarks, Yokahu Tower, on July 4. They also worked on trail maintenance along the Angelito Trail, a popular hike to a watering hole.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This crew, known as the El Yunque crew, were so inspired by their ACE – AmeriCorps experience they wrote autobiographies detailing their background and experience. (See biographies below)

Congratulations on terms well served and a job well done to our El Yunque crew. We wish them all the best as they all plan to head off to college this fall.

We are so proud of this group and their ACE – AmeriCorps pride can be seen in their photographs as they  hold the patches that they were going to stitch on to their ACE shirts. Biographies: 

Jan Carrasquillo Montañez

Hi, my name is Jan Carrasquillo Montañez. I am 18 years old, live in Fajardo [Puerto Rico]. My main hobbies are going to the beach, watching movies, and so many others. Today, I am a part of AmeriCorps, which is an organization to conserve nature. Presently, me and my partners are working to restore El Yunque, which is a forest located in Puerto Rico. The main reason for me being here is because I am committed to help El Yunque and all of Puerto Rico after the travesty of Hurricane Maria. I hope that many others can get inspired and join AmeriCorps to restore our beautiful landmarks. I want to be a member of AmeriCorps because I want to learn to conserve the environment, which is so vital to our lives. The thing that excites me the most about this experience is to do things that I’ve never done before. Also, to grow as a person and an individual.

Andrea Romȧn Vȧzuez

I am 18 years old. I like to dance, watch TV series, take care of my pets, go to church and listen to some music. I decided to join ACE because I love nature and having the opportunity to conserve it and restoring it motivated me. Learning about this can open the doors for helping, and I can show other people how to do it. Having a job experience caught my attention, and in the long run will be a lot of help. I want to be a member of AmeriCorps to obtain knowledge about the environment, and how to take care of it. After this experience, I want to continue my studies. I want to use the Education Award for my Bachelor’s in Arts, with a concentration in drama.

 

 

Bryan Carasquillo Llamas

Hi, my name is Bryan Carrasquillo Llamas. I’m 19. I like photography, writing, graphic designs, cooking, and mixing music. The reason for me to join ACE is cause I love to work in this environment. I’ve worked in a lot of projects for school that have to do with environmental issues. My dream job is working in the forest service or something similar, and ACE gave me my first opportunity to work in the place I love.

 

 

 

 

Estefany Gonzȧlez Ramos

Hello! My name is Estefany Gonzȧlez Ramos. I am 18 years old. I really like baseketball and the beach. I’m in the ACE company, because they offer many opportunities, since they help me grow in the environment and the forest [sectors]. Besides that, I am in this company since in the passage of Hurricane Maria, there were many destructions. I would like to restore the forest.

 

 

 

Wesley Santos Matta

Hi, my name is Wesley Santos Matta. I’m 19 and I love to ride my bicycle. I love to raise chickens and share time with my grandma. The reason for me to join ACE, it was because I love nature and I think this is an opportunity for me to learn and share a close time with the forest. I live with my grandmother in El Yunque National Forest in a neighborhood behind the main entrance.  After Hurricane Maria, I was bored and sad. I went to an old man in my neighborhood, and he gave me a little chicken. I loved her. I took care of her, and then other people gave me chickens. Now, I have 20 and I love them all. Almost every single one of them were presents to me. I now have a duck, also. She was blind when I first found her, and I took care of her hurt eye with triple antibiotics. She’s healed now, but still blind. I want to get a snake, but      my grandmother says no. One day, I want to have a farm in El Yunque.

 

 

Inyo National Forest | Lamarck Lakes Trail

At the start of this summer, eight Tahoe based corps members packed up their tents and tools and hiked into the backcountry of the Inyo National Forest, California. The Inyo encompasses sections of the eastern Sierra Nevada and the White Mountains of California and Nevada as well as Mount Whitney, the highest point in the continental US.

 This ongoing project will continue for four months this year on the Lamarck Lakes Trail. The trail ends at the 13,000′ Lamarck Col and is the most popular access for climbers accessing the Evolution Range, which is a world famous climbing destination for alpinists.  As a result of its growing popularity and harsh winters, the trail requires extensive rockwork and maintenance which began in 2017 and is continuing this season through October 2018.

Working in the backcountry and in the John Muir Wilderness requires a particular sensitivity. The work being done will be accomplished with primitive tools and traditional skills. The crew will be rock bars, double jacks, and other basic trail work tools to achieve the project goals. Pack mules have been integral in being able to complete this project by packing up tools, food and other supplies for the crew throughout the summer. 

Overall the goal is to improve trail safety for hikers and equestrians, including water bar repairs and maintenance, tread stabilization, step and check dam repairs, stream channel debris removal, and retaining wall stabilization. Short reroutes and restoration of the abandoned trails will also be completed. The crew experienced some setbacks this summer from two weeks of severe thunderstorms which caused a landslide that washed out the trailhead. 

ACE Pacific West is laying a strong foundation for this ongoing project. This partnership with the US Forest Service has instilled skills and values within the ACE crew members and ACE is excited to see the progression of this project.