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For all the latest ACE news.

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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Sunset Crater National Monument – Lava Fields

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

ACE Arizona partnered with the National Parks Service at Sunset Crater National Monument. Sunset Crater is a cinder cone volcano that is located north of Flagstaff, AZ. Through the end of September the crew constructed a trail through the lava flow within the park.

The crew is being led by ACE crew leader, Tim Beck. This is a completely different type of trail building for the corps members.  A typical trail involves working with pliable dirt however, in this case the crew has had to learn to work with lava flow remains which is hard volcanic rock.

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The ground in this area is comprised of lava rock that is unstable and dangerous to walk upon directly. To lay the foundation for the trail the crew begins by moving the lava rocks to fill in any gaps and cracks. Using double and single jacks the crew is crushing in lava rocks to flatten the ground into a trail. By rearranging lava rocks and spreading rock gravel the crew is creating a trail that sits several inches below the lava flow. The trail will allow visitors to walk amongst the lava flow which has not been accessible in the past.

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#IamACE – Patrick Council – USBR

Tell us a little about yourself

I am a recent Electrical Engineering graduate from the Colorado School of Mines where I graduated “Magna Cum Laude”. I won third place in the Senior Design Trade fair, and won third place in the Crutches for Africa wheelchair design competition for Mines. When Im not working or studying, I spend some time playing video games that require critical thinking, creative design, and incorporate engineering into the game. The other portion of my free time is spent designing solutions for the home, building circuits or woodwork, composing music, game programming, and playing the violin with my wife. I am currently working on my Master’s of Science in Electrical Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines.

When you started in your position was it what you expected?

I came to intern with the Bureau of Reclamation expecting to do power system analysis like we have been doing in our classes, but I was quickly taken in to do more hands-on tasks that I was not necessarily expecting to do given what I have learned in college. I quickly became familiar with the Machine Condition Monitor cabinet which was designed to take in and record real-time hydroelectric generator vibration and shaft displacement.

What were some other duties that you took on in your internship?

In addition to vibration monitoring, the cabinet recorded its power output, voltages, current output, and much more familiar electrical properties. These cabinets I have been building are shipped to hydropower plants around the Western United States to provide operators necessary information about the operation of their generators to prevent excess vibration that causes mechanical stresses on components holding the generator and turbine in place during operation. The 2009 Sayano–Shushenskaya power station accident is the main reason the Bureau of Reclamation started monitoring vibration to prevent catastrophic failures of hydroelectric generators.

Beyond assembly of these cabinets, I have had the opportunity to go to hydropower plants to witness these cabinets in action. I have helped upgrade existing cabinets and helped General Electric connect to Reclamation’s cabinets to collect data. Some upgrades to the cabinets included replacing input cards with custom input cards designed by Reclamation’s Electrical Engineers. One of my tasks was to solder components on these boards and test them. I learned how to surface mount components on a printed circuit board.

Patrick (left) and EPIC Director, Shane Barrow (next) with the USBR team

Patrick (left) and EPIC Director, Shane Barrow (next) with the USBR team

How have your responsibilities grown as you developed your skillset?

Closer to the end of my internship I have been given the task to help update and redesign an accelerometer driver to monitor vibration inside the air housing of generators. This involved using what I have learned in college and resulted in being a great learning experience. During prototyping, I have learned that the world of operational amplifiers is beyond anything they could teach in undergraduate studies. Experimentation led us to a better design. I designed a printed circuit board layout for the first time after the design was finalized which is in the processed of being reviewed before being mass produced. The accelerometer driver design also led me to finding and recommending less expensive accelerometers to be used to help save Reclamation on their project costs.

What are you proud of with your work and what are you looking forward to?

The final stretch of my internship will involve soldering components onto the printed circuit board I designed, finishing up two more cabinets, testing the new accelerometer that I found, and going to another power plant to implement the accelerometer driver and accelerometers for permanent installation and data collection. This internship has been very involved and it has taught me that electrical engineers do much more than what we are taught in the class room. In the end, I am proud of my work because I know it has an important place in the power industry.

Patrick (second to left) and USBR team at Glen Canyon.

Patrick (second to left) and USBR team at Glen Canyon.

 

 

Secretary of the Interior Zinke visits ACE Asheville Crews

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Happy 101 National Park Service! 
Friday, August 25th, 2017 marked the National Park Service’s 101st Birthday.
To mark this momentous anniversary U.S. Secretary to the Interior, Ryan Zinke came to Great Smokey Mountains National Park to learn about back logged projects and meet NPS staff and AmeriCorps volunteers.

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ACE was deeply honored to be able to host Secretary Zinke at one of our worksites (Rainbow Falls Trail) where we were able to share with him what our AmeriCorps members are currently working on. ACE President and CEO, Christopher Baker was on site to meet Secretary Zinke and share with him a little about national conservation corps efforts on public lands.

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We’d like to thank Secretary Zinke and his team for coming out to meet with our corps members. And to our amazing partners at the National Park Service at Great Smokey Mountains National Park for supporting, training and mentoring our young people, we are forever grateful.

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About the project: The Rainbow Falls Trail Project is in the first year of a 2 year trail rehabilitation project. Rainbow Falls is one of the most popular trails in the park and receives high usage from the public. ACE is working alongside the NPS Trails Forever crew to ensure user safety, sustainability, erosion control, and improve user enjoyment. The work ACE is doing focuses on widening the tread in narrow places, excavating grade dips to improve drainage, outsloping the tread to prevent erosion, and building steps in steeper areas to aid in soil containment. All of these projects improve user safety and enjoyment.

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ACE Corps Members make this project possible by focusing on the fine details of the tread work while also collecting materials to aid in the construction of larger structures on the trail such as staircases and retaining walls. ACE Corps Members use rigging systems to maneuver large rocks into place, split them using drills and chisels, then set them in place with rock bars to provide long-lasting sustainable trail structures that will support high usage from the public on an incredibly scenic trail. ACE Corps Members work alongside NPS members to assist in these highly technical projects. This is truly a cooperative workforce as ACE helps Great Smoky Mountains National Park complete large scale trail restoration projects while gaining valuable career development skills and experience working on public lands in the field of land management.

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Courtesy of Secretary Zinke’s Twitter:

Mount Mitchell Trail Restoration

Over the course of seven weeks, ACE Asheville worked with the North Carolina High Peaks Trail Association, Mount Mitchell State Park and Pisgah National Forest to repair and restore Mount Mitchell Trail. At 6,684 feet, Mount Mitchell is the highest point east of the Mississippi River. The vegetation varies greatly along the 5 ½ miles to the dramatic summit and features spectacular stands of Red Spruce old-growth.

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The ACE trail crew was led by Zak Beyersdoerfer for the duration of the project. The work involved repairing tread, structures and the overall sustainability of the Mount Mitchell Trail by improving drainage, repairing switchbacks and removing obtrusive rocks where necessary. The crew reconstructed multiple wooden staircases along the trail, carrying the large, heavy wooden steps up the steep trail with a backpack.

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Using grip hoists and rockbars the crew also moved boulders from the trail and to flagged areas to prevent the creation of new social trails. “Trail work is a lot of psychology,” explained Josh Burt, ACE Southeast Fields Operation Manager. “It’s not enough to make a physical obstacle to prevent social trails, you also have to make visual barriers.” Josh explained that having a rock in place to prevent a hiker from going off trail is not enough; the hiker is always looking ahead and planning their route beforehand.  Following this advice, the crew also put in place eye level barriers such as dead branches to deter hikers from cutting across a switchback.

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The work completed by the ACE crew and its partners will certainly help to make this trail, in one of our nation’s first state parks, capable of supporting many more visitors for years to come.

 

 

 

 

 

Timber Marking in Coconino National Forest

ACE Arizona is assisting with an important effort to thin the fire-prone forest in northern Arizona’s Coconino National Forest. The ACE crew is being led by Matt Donaldson and is working in partnership with the Flagstaff Ranger District.

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A century of fire suppression has resulted in dangerously overstocked forests, leaving ­­the forests across the Southwest in a very vulnerable state. Increasing temperatures and decreasing water availability due to climate change has exacerbated this even further.

dsc_7381Fire disturbance is a critical part of the natural cycle and plays a vital role in supporting a diverse complement of plant species and structure. Under ideal conditions forest fires clear the dead and lower branches in the forest allowing sunlight to reach the forest floor. In contrast, historic fire suppression has resulted in a surplus of fuels at the lower levels of the forest, which quickly spreads to the canopy, destroying entire forests.

The goal of this project is to manage the overgrown areas in the Coconino National Forest to prevent these fires from turning catastrophic. The crew is working with the Forest Service’s silviculturist who is writing prescriptions for each area of the forest. The prescriptions are written based on tree size, health and grouping. Part of the work entails remarking previously marked trees as well as marking by these new prescriptions. If you are out hiking in these areas, please note that the trees that are marked are the ones that will not be cut during the forest thinning.

timber3ACE corps members are gaining a thorough understanding of a variety of resource objectives related to wildlife, fire and fuels, timber, recreation, archeology, and soil hydrology. They are also learning how these multifaceted issues all play into the development of prescriptions and the layout of cutting unit boundaries. This project will be continuing though the end of the summer.

 

Invasive Species Removal at Chimney Rock State Park

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

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

ACE Asheville and the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy (CMLC) have been partnering on a variety of projects since 2014. Each year ACE provides approximately seven weeks of human power in the summer and seven weeks in the fall to the CMLC. Together we work to protect the natural communities and scenic beauty of the Hickory Nut Gorge by managing the establishment and spread of non-native invasive plants. (Fun fact: the area is located near Lake Lure, North Carolina, which was the film site for Dirty Dancing and Last of the Mohicans.)

The summer project was located at Chimney Rock State Park and was lead by ACE crew leader Jess Coffee-Johnson along with Weed Action Coalition of Hickory Nut Gorge’s (WACHNG) Natural Resource Manager, David Lee. We treated three priority invasive species: kudzu (Pueraria montana), princess tree (Paulownia tomentosa), and tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima). The crew treated the invasives by cutting the vines as well as using herbicide sprayers. Working in two groups, sprayers and brushers, the crew scaled the hillside in organized groups, each person in their designated section.

Kudzu spreads at approximately 150,000 acres per year, which is how it earned the nickname “the vine that ate the south.” This rapid spread is why ACE returns every year to treat and prevent the spread of these invasive species which compete for resources with native plants.

ACE will be returning to work with the CLMC in September to continue treatment.

 

 

 

Horseshoe Bend National Military Park – Alabama

ACE North Carolina has completed a 16 week project at Horseshoe Bend National Military Park. The park is located in Alabama, in Tallapoosa county, near Alexander city.

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

The park is run by the National Park Service and was marked as a national military park because it was the site of the Creek War on March 27, 1814. (For more information on the park and it’s history click here: https://www.nps.gov/hobe/learn/historyculture/index.htm )

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

The main objective of this project was to control exotic vegetation in a 450 acre area within the backcountry area of the park and to survey invasive species infestations along the Tallapoosa River within the park boundary. To monitor these areas along the river the crews took the Tallapoosa by canoe and marked the areas with GPS coordinates.

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

A second crew went back into those areas with herbicide to treat the marked locations. The removal of exotic species will improve the natural resources by eliminating competition from invasive species and helping native species thrive.

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

The crew was focusing on two main species, privet (Ligustrum spp.), cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica) as well as tree of heaven, mimosa tree, chinaberry, Japanese honeysuckle and kudzu. The ACE crew was lead by Nicole Macnamee, Chelesi White and Murphy Danko throughout various stages of the project.

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