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For all the latest ACE news.

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.

 

 

 

Road Warriors

Road Warriors

By: Michelle Ferguson and Angelica Varela

Hello! And welcome to our first blog. We have logged thousands of miles so far in our journey and we’ve only just begun! Join us road warriors as we drive across the states, jumping head first into new rhythms at every refuge.

Night one on the road we spent our evening camping under the stars in Moab before driving to Desert National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) near Las Vegas, Nevada. A rainstorm welcomed us to Las Vegas, and the refreshing scent of creosote hung in the air. A smell quite familiar to us Southwest gals, we were grateful our first refuge felt close to home. One night at Desert, we grabbed our headlamps and trekked along muddy cattails under the moonlight surveying the endangered relict leopard frog with researcher Rebecca Rivera from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Rebecca works to restore populations of relict leopard frogs in their historic range. After a few weeks of seeing more lizards, Cooper’s hawks, and burrowing owls than visitors, we traded our hiking boots for flip-flops and headed to the beach.

Desert National Wildlife Refuge, March 2018. Photos: Michelle Ferguson

San Diego welcomed us with kind hearts and a glorious amount of tacos. We also got a taste of the challenges that urban refuges face while working at San Diego and San Diego Bay NWRs. There is a continuous battle with misused trails and graffiti, and the staff’s tenacity when it came to maintaining their refuge grounds was impressive.
After long days of visitor surveying, we came home to our groovy hostel two blocks from the Pacific Ocean, enjoying evenings around the bonfire teaching our new international friends how to make s’mores. April 15th, toes in the sand, we watched our final sunset on the west coast before an early start the next morning with a long drive to Marble Falls, TX.

San Diego Bay NWR, April 2018. Photo: Angelica Varela.

Taking a 180-degree turn from living in San Diego, where the hang loose beach lifestyle echoed in the streets below our window all night, we landed in a quiet 1960’s ranch house at Balcones Canyonlands NWR. Located in Texas Hill Country, our stay was peaceful with no neighbors or Wi-Fi for miles.

During our second week of sampling at Balcones Canyonlands, we were extremely fortunate to see the Golden-Cheeked Warbler flying above our sampling spot. The Golden-Cheeked Warbler is an endangered species that only nests in the oak-juniper woodlands of Texas. This wildlife interaction was considerably more favorable than the encounters with our red wasp, wolf spider and Texas redheaded centipede roommates.

Balcones Canyonlands NWR. Warbler Vista Observation Deck, April 2018. Photo: Michelle Ferguson.

After travelling from Texas across the Midwest, we sat on the edge of West Virginia with our back porch looking out across Ohio River Islands NWR. Here we learned all about freshwater mussels’ life cycle and the lures they display to attract fish. While most of the refuge staff focused on the “May is Mussel Month” initiatives, one staff member was eager to teach us local bird song mnemonics, the most memorable of which were the barred owl song, “who cooks for you, who cooks for you all!” and the eastern towhee’s call, “drink your teeeeea!” To this day, we sing along with them when we hear their cries.
Our last evening in town brought in thunderstorms. Afterward, the refuge manager scooped us up to hike through the backwoods behind our apartment. We stumbled upon a twinkling array of fireflies under a low, moonlit canopy still dripping from the rainfall.

Ohio River Islands NWR, May 2018. Photo: Michelle Ferguson.

Promethea Moth at Ohio River Islands NWR, May 2018. Photo: Michelle Ferguson.

Although working with the public sometimes results in uncomfortable or negative interactions, we have found ourselves most uplifted by an unexpected piece of the job. Among our travels for survey sampling, we have the opportunity to get to know many remarkable women in science at each refuge we have visited. In a male-dominated field, we stand at every refuge with females who are holding their ground: researchers, biologists, fire dispatchers, and managers to name a few. These women are leaders. They have shown us to stand strong as females in conservation careers. As two aspiring women in the environmental sciences, we have felt immense inspiration from the women on our journey. The phrase, ‘I wish I had something like this when I was growing up,’ is something we hear often. We are humbled to know that these women helped pave the trail we chose to walk on. Encouraged by these women, we are getting our chance to lay yet another layer on this rough trail to make it easier for future women in science to hike upon. We are grateful to know we walk among and behind hard-working women in our careers and we are grateful for the opportunity American Conservation Experience has given us to meet them.

Michelle Ferguson

USFWS NWR Visitor Survey Intern

I’m Michelle, a Colorado native and recent graduate from Northern Arizona University with my masters in Environmental Sciences and Policy. I’m interested in the human dimensions of natural resources, and using social science to inform conservation work. Specifically, I am interested in the balance of meeting human needs without compromising ecological resources.

Angelica Varela

USFWS NWR Visitor Survey Intern

I’m Angelica. I grew up in the harsh Sonoran desert of Arizona. I received my undergrad in Biological Science at Arizona State University and I hope to pursue my masters soon. I am interested in birds, specifically raptors, and hope to work with them one day.

Southern California Conservation Corps Collaborative

ACE is proud to be partnering with LA Conservation Corps and Conservation Corps of Long Beach as part of the Southern California Conservation Corps Collaborative performing environmental restoration projects in the Angeles National Forest. Here is a sneak peek of some of the amazing corps members and crew working on this project.  Full video to come! Stay tuned! 

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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