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For all the latest ACE news.

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.

 

Introducing the Southern California Conservation Corps Collaborative

Introducing the Southern California Conservation Corps Collaborative. ACE proudly partnered with LA Conservation Corps and Conservation Corps of Long Beach on a meaningful project in the Angeles National Forest. This Collaboration effort was funded by the @U.S. Forest Service and @National Fish and Wildlife Foundation with the goals of removing invasive species, seed collection, propagation, micro trash removal, restoration of riparian corridors, trail system improvements and helping to restore the fire damaged areas of the ANF.


Working together we can accomplish great things! Thank you to all of the dedicated corpsmembers for your hard work and telling your story.

Dixie National Forest | Bunker Creek Trail

This past June ACE had both Southwest and Mountain-west based crews working side by side on the Bunker Creek Trail. The Bunker Creek Trail is located in the Dixie National Forest, Utah’s largest national forest, expanding over 170 miles in Southern Utah. The trail, which is intended for mountain bikers, is a total of 11.6 miles one way and reaches elevations of over 10,000 feet. The single track Bunker Creek Trail is designed to start at the top of the mountain with the bikers having another person at the bottom to shuttle them. 

In the summer of 2017 this area of Dixie National Forest, known as Brian Head experienced a massive forest fire expanding over 100 square miles including the area of the original Bunker Creek Trail. In partnership with the Dixie National Forest, the ACE trail crews came in with the goal to reroute some areas of the trail with a more sustainable slope as well as maintain and clear parts of the existing trail. The ACE Southwest crew, led by ACE Crew Leader, Emily Merlo was out for four project weeks and the Mountain-west crew, led by ACE Crew Leader, Jordan Herron for six project weeks. 

To re-establish the Bunker Creek Trail post-fire, the new tread was created initially with a dozer and then smoothed out with hand tools by the crew. The dozer created multiple reroutes which resulted in approximately four miles of trail that the crews completed in June 2018. Another crew returned in August 2018 to complete .6 miles of trail that connected to the top end of the North Bunker Trail as well.  

The Bunker Creek Trail is located just down the road from Cedar Breaks National Monument and features beautiful views of light-colored volcanic rock as well as bright pink cliffs. The ACE crews were privileged to work in this beautiful area in partnership with the US Forest Service with the Cedar City Ranger District. 

ACE is looking forward to continuing to partner with the Dixie National Forest in restoring and enhancing safe recreational trail access in 2019.

ACE Northern California — Restoration in the Sierra Nevada Mountains

Between the magnificent, blue Lake Tahoe and the towering massif of Lassen Peak in northern California lies a stretch of forest that many folks, including most Californians, know little about. Containing 127,000 acres of intact old growth fir and pine forest and 75 miles of Pacific Crest Trail, the 1,146,000 acre Plumas National Forest embodies the heart of California’s northern Sierra Nevada. Places like Bucks Lake Wilderness, the steep canyons of the Middle and North Forks of the Feather River, historic Indian Valley and 640-foot Feather Falls represent the Forest’s broad diversity of vegetation, topography and recreational opportunities.

Project partner USFS Botanist Jim Belsher-Howe (middle) is flanked on his right by ACE crew leaders Jack Colpitt and Kaye Thomas and on his left by ACE Restoration Coordinator Dennis Frenier and ACE National Forestry Program Manager Carl Nelson.

In 2017, American Conservation Experience’s northern California office, based in South Lake Tahoe, launched a 5-year, $250,000 partnership with the Plumas National Forest. Restoration work would include invasive plant control and conifer thinning to enhance rare aspen stand health and sensitive species habitat.

Gridding for yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis) on the rocky banks of the North Fork of the Feather River at a place called Misery Bar.

 

It may not look like much, but this is a grouping of Webber’s milkvetch (Astragalus webberi), found at Misery Bar. This critically imperiled plant is found only in the Plumas National Forest. Its habitat greatly threatened by quickly spreading invasive plant species.

In 2018, priority invasive weed projects will take place in several wildland fire scars — the 52,000-acre Storrie Fire, which started from an accidental ignition by the Union Pacific Railroad in 2000, and the 65,000-acre and heavily litigated Moonlight Fire which occurred in 2007. ACE crews will work in these areas through the summer. Manually and chemically treating encroaching weeds like Canada thistle, yellow starthistle, spotted knapweed, invasive mustards and medusahead rye.

Working under the burnt remains of the 2000 Storrie Fire.

 

Yellow starthistle control by hand.

ACE’s Northern California office is young and eager to grow. Led by enthusiastic and newly positioned Patrick Parcel, the branch looks to evolve and spread their restoration program. “That’s definitely a huge goal of ours,” says Patrick. “We not only want to continue to build our relationship with the Plumas, but soon expand our restoration work to the Sierra and Inyo National Forests.”

This hitch’s tough crew led by Jack Colpitt and Kaye Thomas on the left.

ACE welcomes new President and CEO, Laura Herrin

For Immediate Release:

Flagstaff, AZ, July 11, 2018–

American Conservation Experience (ACE) proudly announces the selection of Laura Herrin as its new President and Chief Executive Officer. Laura begins her leadership role at ACE on July 16, 2018, succeeding ACE Founder, Chris Baker who is stepping down after 15 years of exceptional service and organizational growth nationwide.


“Laura Herrin has dedicated her career to youth and young adult development and conservation corps programs and has a great track record of accomplishments,” said Brad Bippus, ACE’s board chair. “Laura has a very obvious passion for ACE’s dual mission of on-the-ground environmental work and providing meaningful opportunities for young people. We are delighted to have Laura, with her very impressive skills and many years of leadership experience, take the helm of ACE.”

Since 2002, Laura Herrin has been an integral part of the growth and success of one of the most recognized nonprofit industry leaders in youth conservation and outdoor programs, The Student Conservation Associations (SCA). Laura’s vision and leadership led to a series of promotions over her 15 years with SCA, encompassing a tenure that included roles as National Director, Innovation Director and culminating in to the position of Senior Vice President. Laura took a leading role to create strategies around revenues, program development, and risk and safety management. In addition, she has been vital in negotiating cooperative agreements, developing new programs and partnerships, and managed a significant revenue budget for SCA. Laura currently advocates for the entire conservation corps industry through her position as Partnership Director with the Corps Network.

“I am thrilled to be joining a talented and passionate team at ACE,” says Laura. It is my goal to continue the work of and to build on the foundation that has made this organization a leader in the conservation field. We will continue to focus on being the partner of choice, completing important and needed conservation work, being the program of choice for young people wanting to do this work, and the employer of choice, attracting and engaging a diverse and talented staff.”

ACE Founder, Chris Bakers says. “Laura’s career has been defined by innovation, perseverance, and commitment to conservation corps. Her resume is robust, but much more importantly, I’ve always found her to be open, honest, direct, and engaging. The confidence and vision Laura embodies will ultimately inspire change and ACE will continue to thrive.”

Laura Herrin is a passionate, dedicated Executive Leader with an exceptional record of launching and building effective programs and consistent revenue growth. ACE is pleased to have her join our growing organization.

ACE is grounded in the philosophy that cooperative labor on meaningful conservation projects fosters cross cultural understanding and operates in the belief that challenging volunteer service unites people of all backgrounds in common cause.
If you would like more information please contact Susie Jardine at 928-226-6960 or email at susie@usaconservation.org.

Coronado National Forest – Bark Beetle Treatment

A 10 person ACE Southwest crew completed a project in the Coronado National Forest with the goal of protecting the fire-weakened forest from potential bark beetle invasion. Over the course of three months, the crew learned some serious orienteering skills and tree identification.

Crews deployed pheromone caps across 550+ acres. The areas that were treated were identified by the Forest Service as Mt Graham Red Squirrel habitats. ACE crews helped the Forest Service confirm locations of this endangered animal. At last count, there were only 35 remaining in the wild!

Two different types of pheromone caps were used. MCH and Verbenone. They are anti-aggregate pheromones that essentially tell a bark beetle that is searching for a place to lay their eggs that the tree is full and to keep on flying. The bark beetle then flies to the next tree and is told the same thing “sorry the inn is full! No vacancies!” Eventually the bark beetle gets too tired to continue to fly and dies.

The MCH packets protect Douglas firs and Verbenone protects southwestern white pines from bark beetle attack. This was a unique restoration project for our ACE’rs and we are so proud of the contribution made by our team.

 

 

 

Flagstaff for Flagstaff – ACE Flagstaff is working to donate food waste

At our main headquarters in Flagstaff, AZ we are working to lessen the effects that food waste has on our environment while helping our local community.

ACE food shoppers organize, shop for and pack thousands of pounds of canned food, perishables and produce to keep our hard working corps members fed throughout their projects.

With so many mouths to feed it can be hard for our shoppers to quantify the amount of food we purchase vs. the members and project needs. It’s a challenge to shop without having some food waste but we are always looking for ways to cut down on what we throw away.

On a yearly basis, between 30 and 40 percent of food (133 billion pounds) in the United States goes uneaten and thrown away to landfills. While uneaten food is gradually rotting in the landfill, it releases methane, a greenhouse gas that is approximately 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a heat-trapping gas. ACE hopes to lessen our own greenhouse gas footprint.

Sunn has been donating our extra produce since the beginning of the year. She estimates we donate at least 60 to 100 pounds of produce a month. We’ve also donated about 80 pounds of canned goods during our warehouse clean out this past April.

“Its great because we are being more conservative by not wasting food and also helping hungry families get fresh produce.” said  Sunn Nixon. “We are really happy we are not wasting as much anymore, but there is always room for improvement.”

Sunn came up with the idea after speaking to a person through another local Flagstaff business, Cornucopia Community Advocates. She was directed to the Full Circle Pantry she says “because they’re a great organization and I know that the customers that go there are treated with kindness and respect.”

ACE Flagstaff staff hope to expand this idea to our other branches nationwide in hopes that we can be part of the solution in trying to not only keep the waste out of our local landfills but to help combat global climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our environment.

Click here for more information on Full Circle Charities and the Peoples Pantry

 

ACE Announces The Departure Of President, Christopher Baker

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 9, 2018

Contact – Susie Jardine
Telephone – 928-226-6960
Address: 2900 N. Fort Valley Rd.
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Email – susie@usaconservation.org
Website – www.usaconservation.org

Flagstaff, AZ, March 9, 2018 –

It is with deep appreciation and gratitude for his leadership and service that the Board of Directors announces Chris Baker’s departure as President and CEO of American Conservation Experience (ACE), effective June 30, 2018.

Chris founded ACE in August 2003 and under his guidance it has developed into a nationally recognized leader in the conservation community engaging thousands of young adults in the accomplishment of practical environmental restoration projects in America’s national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and other public lands.

Although Chris will be greatly missed by the board, staff, corps members, and partners alike we wish him great success in his new endeavor as the co-founder of Conservation United Insurance (CUI), where he will continue to support and consult conservation corps and other nonprofit organizations across the nation.

We want to thank him for the 15 years of dedicated service as well as his inspirational leadership and mentorship which involved many significant accomplishments and contributions, including but not limited to:

  • Expanding ACE’s service footprint from a small office in Flagstaff, AZ to direct service in 42 states and 3 territories.
  • Growing the original staff of 3 to 75 full-time leaders in the conservation community.
  • Providing conservation opportunities for over 8,000 young adults (and counting), including 1,300 conservation corps members and interns in 2017 alone.
  • Contribution of over 3.5 million hours or 10,700 crew weeks of service on America’s public lands since 2004.
  • Placement of 1,859 members in the Corps Network AmeriCorps program in 2016-2017 with 1216 members serving in crew based placements, 641 serving in individual or internship placements.
  • Development of enduring, nationally-scaled partnerships with multiple federal land management agencies, including the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service as well as AmeriCorps national service program programs under the state and national programs of the Corporation for National Community Service and others.
  • Development of dozens of federal, state, municipal, and nonprofit partnerships.

In the coming weeks, ACE’s Board of Directors will conduct a nationwide search to identify our new President and CEO.
http://www.usaconservation.org/ceo-position-announcement/

During this period of transition, we are fortunate for the continuity afforded by a great many talented and committed staff and board members.
Our team will work hard to ensure the seamless continuation of the professional field standards, support for its corps members and interns, and both the quality of work and the high degree of accountability that our stakeholders have come to associate with ACE.

We cannot adequately thank Chris enough for his vision, passion, enthusiasm, motivation and dedication. ACE emerges from Chris’s founding 15-year tenure stronger than ever, well prepared and excited for the next chapters, as we continue to harness the energy and idealism of the next generation of stewards of America’s public lands.

Brad Bippus, Chair
Board of Directors
American Conservation Experience
______________________________________________________________

From Chris Baker, President and Chief Executive Officer,
American Conservation Experience

After a decade and half with the American Conservation Experience (ACE),
I have submitted my resignation to the board in order to pursue new opportunities. The decision for my transition did not come easily as I am extremely proud of all that the American Conservation Experience has achieved and the colleagues and corps members who I have had the honor of working alongside over the last 15 years.

While I have a mix of emotions as I move into this next chapter of my career, as the Co-founder of Conservation United Insurance (CUI), I will be able to continue in the work that has become so important to me: helping to support the capacity of the corps industry as well as nonprofits in general from a new operational perspective.

I want to give my deepest gratitude to all who have been so supportive of the organization and of me personally and professionally over the years: staff, current and past ACE members/interns, board members, and, of course, our partners. Without all of you, the organization would not be as strong and vibrant as it is. I am so honored to have been the leader of this incredible organization and will watch with much excitement and anticipation as it makes strides in supporting and creating continued solutions for environmental restorations across the nation and US territories.

Sincerely,

Chris Baker

______________________________________________________________

ACE is grounded in the philosophy that cooperative labor on meaningful conservation projects fosters cross cultural understanding and operates in the belief that challenging volunteer service unites people of all backgrounds in common cause.

If you would like more information contact Susie Jardine at susie@usaconservation.org or 928-226-6960

# # #

ACE California – Fort Ord Dunes Native Species Planting

ACE has been planting native species in the Ford Ord dunes since late November 2017. By the conclusion of the project, over 23,000 will be planted. Located on Monterey Bay, Fort Ord offers beautiful ocean views, and is now an area of recreation for tourists and locals alike.

Marisa, a 900 hour Americorps member, clears a patch of dead Ice Plant to make room for a Beach Aster sapling. In one day, Marisa will plant about 100 of these. By replacing the invasive Ice Plant with the native Beach Aster, the Fort Ord Dunes are likely to see a positive reduction in erosion, water consumption, and wildlife populations as the saplings grow and reintroduce themselves to the coastal habitat.

Marisa, a 900 hour Americorps member, clears a patch of dead Ice Plant to make room for a Beach Aster sapling. In one day, Marisa will plant about 100 of these. By replacing the invasive Ice Plant with the native Beach Aster, the Fort Ord Dunes are likely to see a positive reduction in erosion, water consumption, and wildlife populations as the saplings grow and reintroduce themselves to the coastal habitat.

Human History: Land use and impact

There is no mistaking the immense impact humans have had on the area. Evidence of this can be seen by both natural and unnatural materials on the dunes.

Fort Ord was originally an Army installation that encompassed 15 rifle ranges, officially closed in 1994. To this day it is not uncommon to find bullet casings in the dunes. ACE Crew leaders and Americorps members underwent bomb recognition training in the event any explosives are found while working.

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“Restoration is experimental because it will take a while to see the effects of our efforts. Restoration is such a large part of conservation, when you’re trail building it’s easy to forget that.” -Jesse, Americorps ACL

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Natural History and Restoration:

Since November 2017, ACE staff and crew have been working alongside California State Parks representatives at Fort Ord Dunes State Park in a longer-term habitat restoration effort. ACE crews are now planting natives in soil beneath the dead Ice Plant, including Beach Aster, Coastal Buckwheat, Lizard tail, Sticky Monkey Flower, Sage Brush, Sage Wart, and Lupin. Each four-day project produces about 4,000 new plants. Reintroduction of these native plants will have a lasting impact on the area, improving water intake, plant biodiversity, and native animal populations.

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Green patches of native plants are reemerging after a past herbicide project cleared the Ice Plant. The Smith’s Blue Butterfly used to thrive in this area, particularly due to the native Coastal Buckwheat.

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“It’s nice to plant instead of just ripping plants out. Some people want to learn about biological systems, so this is a good learning opportunity.” -Vince, AmeriCorps ACL

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“I’m into restoration and I’m down to be any part of the process, but planting feels the most valuable. My background is in ecology and I feel that this is in line with my education. Seeing whales is a big highlight too.  -Marisa, AmeriCorps member

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EPIC visits National Wildlife Refuges – A Journey of Exploration

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ACE-EPIC Director Shane Barrow and ACE’s newly hired U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Program Director, Kevin Sloan paid a recent visit to Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex headquarters in Las Vegas, Nevada to meet with Project Leader Christy Smith.  Kevin enjoyed a 30-year career with the FWS and recently retired before taking his new position with ACE-EPIC in Salt Lake City.

Kevin and Shane traveled 100 miles north of Las Vegas to visit the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), one of the refuges in the Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex.  This particular refuge has special significance for Kevin because, in the late 1990’s, he served as Pahranagat’s Refuge Manager.

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Kevin and Shane met with Pahranagat NWR Manager Rob Vinson to learn of the many habitats and infrastructure improvements that have been made at Pahranagat. These improvements include hydrologic restoration in Black Canyon and a new visitor center, which highlights the importance of the Pahranagat Valley to the Native American Tribes in the area as well as the importance of refuge habitats to migratory and resident birds including southwestern willow flycatcher and Sandhill crane.  Pahranagat NWR, the “place of many waters,” has supported human habitation for thousands of years and is one of a string of desert wetland “pearls,” providing critical habitat in this transition area of the Mojave and Great Basin deserts.

This was a significant journey of exploration for ACE-EPIC.  Kevin’s career experience in the FWS and his vast network of FWS contacts allow a very high level of immersion into FWS culture with a highlight on field-level conservation needs. This level of knowledge will enable ACE-EPIC to adapt to meet the future needs of the FWS as well as the needs of aspiring young talent seeking careers in conservation.

Our congratulations to both Christy and Rob on a job well done!  We look forward to providing many highly-qualified interns through our ongoing partnership with FWS to protect and enhance wildlife and their habitats for the benefit of all Americans but mainly for the benefit of younger generations of conservation stewards.

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21CSC Act Passes in U.S. House Committee

thecorpsnetwork


American Conservation Experience (ACE) would like to thank the House Committee on Natural Resources for advancing the 21CSC Act, and thank Rep. McSally and Rep. Grijalva for their leadership on behalf of Corps,” said Chris Baker, President of American Conservation Experience. an Arizona-based 21CSC organization. “In a nation too often divided, Rep. McSally’s efforts championed bipartisan support to facilitate youth and veterans’ employment through service to our nation’s public lands. Rep. McSally and all the bill’s sponsors and cosponsors have truly helped elevate service in our national parks, forests, refuges and recreational areas to a national priority. The 21CSC Act will provide vital support to help ACE, the Arizona Conservation Corps, and over 220 other 21CSC organizations nationwide facilitate life changing-outdoor service opportunities for young men and women.”

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View press release from the office of Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ)

View press release from The Corps Network

Bryce Canyon | Forest Thinning

ACE has taken part in multiple forest thinning projects across the Southwest over the last several years. Each project has had a similar objective in mind: wildfire prevention. Each year wildfires have increased in severity and occurrences, and it has become more crucial than ever to remove the lower level fuels that allow them to become more severe.

Fall of 2017 proved to be a very busy time for our ACE Utah crews in regards to fuels reduction. Crews performed forest thinning in beautiful, Bryce Canyon National Park, for an eight-day project. 

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

Forest thinning helps to prevent wildfires from becoming catastrophic. ACE’s part in this aspect of wildfire prevention is to remove any trees that would serve as ladder fuel. Ladder fuel is a firefighting term for live or dead vegetation that allows a fire to climb up from the landscape or forest floor into the tree canopy. This means cutting down any tree species that are easier to catch fire, trees of a specific diameter, and removing any dead or down trees.

The crew comes off of a lunch break at one of the canyon's overlooks.

The crew comes off of a lunch break at one of the canyon’s overlooks.

In Bryce Canyon National Park the ACE crew was led by crew leader, Brandon Lester. The primary objective of this project was to protect limber pines and bristlecone pines as well as Douglas firs and Ponderosa pines. Douglas firs and Ponderosa pines are being protected because they tend to be more resilient against wildfires. By keeping these more resilient species and thinning more flammable species, the forest becomes less prone to catastrophic wildfires. The bristlecone pines are being protected because in this area they tend to be very old and the limber pines are being protected because they are a more rare species. By selecting certain species ACE is working to create a healthier pine forest.

 

Crew members swamp branches and trees that have been cut into piles for prescribed burns that will be conducted by the parks service.

Crew members swamp branches and trees that have been cut into piles for prescribed burns that will be conducted by the parks service.

To do this the crew was reducing the number of flammable species such as white firs and some of the Douglas firs that could potentially become ladder fuels. The crew was also targeting trees that were growing in clumps and trees that were growing too close to the species they were trying to protect. For example, the crew was not directly targeting Douglas firs but if there were any Douglas firs growing too close to a Ponderosa pine, then the crew would remove that tree.

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During this single eight-day project the crew aimed to thin approximately three acres within the park. ACE is incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to return to work in this beautiful national park and look forward to our continued partnership with the National Park Service and our friends at Bryce Canyon National Park.

For more information on Bryce Canyon National Park click here: Bryce Canyon National Park

 

 

 

 

Pecos Wilderness | Borrego Trail | Crosscut

Pecos Wilderness campsite as seen at night.

Pecos Wilderness campsite as seen at night.

Summer 2017 was a tremendously busy season for ACE’s Crew Program. ACE Southwest teams had the opportunity to work on a two-month project in the Pecos Wilderness just outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico, on the Borrego Trail. ACE is proud to offer our corps members a wide range of training on different types of equipment and a variety of of tools. This project called for our teams to use the classic crosscut saw.

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

The use of crosscut saws dates back to the 15th century, and they are still in use today with very little change in their design. “It’s really cool to be using these saws that have been used for centuries”, explained crew member, Emily Merlo. These saws are used to cut against the wood grain of trees. The crew is using them to “buck up” already down trees. Bucking is a term that refers to the cutting up of already down trees.

Andrew Palomo removes the bark from the log before beginning the cut.

Andrew Palomo removes the bark from the log before beginning the cut.

A bucking saw generally has a straighter back and less of a pronounced curve on its cutting surface. Since bucking saws are more often used on trees that are already downed, the greater stiffness and weight aids swift cutting, and allows two-man saws to also be used by one person, pushing as well as pulling.

The crew enjoying a lunch break in the Pecos Wilderness.

The crew enjoying a lunch break in the Pecos Wilderness.

There are several reasons why crosscut saws are preferred over chainsaws, on certain projects. First, crosscut saws are lighter which makes it easier for crews to carry in to remote locations as most ACE crews backpack in all of their camping gear, food, and tools. This particular crew hiked over ten miles into the forest to reach the project site. The weight of chainsaws and fuel make crosscuts saws a better choice for these long hikes in. Additionally, many areas of the National Forests of the United States are designated as Wilderness Areas and as such the use of mechanized and motorized equipment is prohibited, except by special circumstance, as the noise chainsaws  have the potential to disturb wildlife.

Crew member, Emily Merlo completes the cut.

Crew member, Emily Merlo completes the cut.

ACE crew leader, Kaitlin Egan led the project for the entire duration. The primary objective of this project was to clear downed trees that blocked the trail. The crews worked in two-person teams with the crosscut saw requiring one person on each side. Prior to beginning the work the team starts by assessing each tree, then decides on an approach based on how the tree fell from flooding and wind, where there is tension on the tree, and which way the log will roll once it is cut. And last, the decision is made as to who will take the saw when the cut is complete. It’s a very calculated process to ensure the safety of our crews and that the proper technique is utilized.

A two-man team works to bring down a tree that has fallen from natural causes and was left suspended over the trail.

This project is the second year of work on the Borrego Trail for ACE.  On this particular project the crews cleared the first four miles of trail where they set up camp in the backcountry of the Pecos Wilderness. As they worked their way up the trail, they eventually made it to the campsite at mile ten. Within the first month the crew was able to clear fourteen miles of trail from fallen trees.

ACE corps member, Alexander Hesketh records the diameter of the tree he and his partner have just bucked.

ACE corps member, Alexander Hesketh records the diameter of the tree he and his partner have just bucked.

ACE is proud to be able to provide our teams with  backcountry and wilderness skills to allow our corps members to be a part of improving access to this beautiful trail. We’d like to thank our partners at Pecos Wilderness and the USFS for your guidance and partnership as well as our ACE Southwest Crew for your hard work and dedication on this project.

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The Pecos Wilderness crosscut crew at sunset on the first day of the two-month long project.

ACE YCC and EPIC assist NPS with a Pollinator Field Research Study at Cuyahoga Valley National Park

 

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 Field School – Fish Monitoring

Phoenix Field School, 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.

Dry Lake Hills Forest Thinning [video]

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

Grand Canyon National Park – Trail Maintenance

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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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.

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

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.

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

Arizona Trail | Pine, AZ

ACE Arizona has been working with the Arizona Trail Association on several different sections of the 800-mile trail. In September ACE had a crew led by Katherine Dickey and Natalie Kolesar working just outside of Pine, AZ. Over the course of two eight-day projects, the crew worked on general trail maintenance as well as building rock structures and building footbridges with timber construction.

Crew members debark the logs to prevent the logs from rotting.

Crew members debark the logs to prevent the logs from rotting.

The crew put in two puncheon foot bridges within approximately the first mile of the trail. The process of putting in these creek crossings involves debarking, “ripping” the log, hauling the split logs up to the puncheon sites and setting them in place. Ripping refers to the act of splitting the tree lengthwise; each half provides the walking surface of the bridge. The bark is first removed from the tree trunk because the bark holds in moisture, to keep these wood structures from rotting the bark is scraped off by hand. To set the logs, the crew members dig holes for smaller logs to sit in on either side of the creek. Those logs are then reinforced with crush (small rock fragments) to hold the logs in place. Then, the larger logs receive saddle notches so that they fit like puzzle pieces on top of their smaller counterparts.

National Trails Trainer, Mark Loseth teaches crew leader, Katherine Dickey to make measurements on the log for saddle notches.

National Trails Trainer, Mark Loseth teaches crew leader, Katherine Dickey to make measurements on the log for saddle notches.

The purpose of putting in bridges over creek crossings is to prevent erosion and sedimentation in the creek. This area of Arizona is a very delicate riparian zone. It is one of the few places in Arizona where you can see a multitude of tree species including maple and alder trees. This type of lumber work requires a lot of measuring, leveling, and precision with the chainsaw. ACE National Trails Trainer, Mark Loseth visited the crew and made sure that crew was entirely equipt with the tools and knowledge to get the work done.

Crew members roll the log into position to be cut.

Crew members roll the log into position to be cut.

During the second half of this project, the crew built armored drain pans along some of the eroded parts of the trail. The armored drain pans protect the path and direct water off of the trail. A multi-tiered rock wall and rock steps were also put in by the crew during the duration of this project.

Crew Leader, Katherine Dickey rips the log in half to create the platform for the footbridge.

Crew Leader, Katherine Dickey rips the log in half to create the platform for the footbridge.

ACE has been fortunate to have completed multiple sections of trail work along the 800-mile Arizona Trail and would like to thank our partners at the Arizona Trails Association. For more information on this trail follow the link below:

https://aztrail.org/the-trail/

Crew members haul the logs by hand to the puncheon sites.

Crew members haul the logs by hand to the puncheon sites.

Coronado National Forest – Hamburg Trail

This past September ACE Arizona worked with Coronado National Forest Service on an eight day project to install wilderness signs.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Make a Difference Day 2017

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

Click here to read article: http://www.azdailysun.com

 

 

Granite Mountain Hotshot Memorial State Park

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)

 

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.

 

Wilderness First Aid (WFA) trainings spots available!

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.

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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/

SIGN UP NOW!

 

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