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Riparian Health and Restoration in Moab, Utah

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ACE Utah is finishing a month long project in beautiful Moab, Utah. The goal of the project was to remove Russian Olive from Mill Creek. Mill Creek is located just minutes outside of downtown Moab and has seen ongoing restoration efforts.  Mill Creek is a popular hiking and swimming destination with several spots to see pictographs and petroglyphs.

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Russian Olive is a small deciduous tree that can grow fifteen to thirty feet in height. Growing roughly six feet per year Russian Olive can quickly crowd out desirable native riparian vegetation. Russian Olive’s ability to colonize stream banks can alter the natural flooding process and reduce availability of nutrients and moisture for native plant species which can result in the reduction of flora and fauna species diversity.

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The ACE Utah crew was lead by Krish Karau in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management. The crew was removing Russian Olive with chainsaws and then treating the stumps with herbicide to prevent regrowth. The slash from the Russian Olive was being set in various ways from being hauled out and chipped to being used as blockades for social trails as directed by Taylor Hohensee.

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The crew worked closely with EPIC intern and former Utah corps member, Taylor Hohensee throughout the duration of this project. Taylor’s focus in the EPIC internship with the BLM has been in riparian health and restoration.dsc_0925

Restoration efforts in Mill creek so far have significantly improved stream channelization and has seen the return of beavers to the area.

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ACE EPIC | Earth Connections Camp

ACE EPIC Interns based in Moab, UT recently supported a BLM-sponsored Earth Connections Camp in nearby Bluff, UT. The camp is designed to immerse Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) into Native Culture.

Range Management Intern Jacob Garcia served as point of contact for the ACE team, with ACE EPIC Interns Audrey Pefferman, Taylor Hohensee, and Robert Ford joining the team to assist the various resource professionals and camp staff. The ACE Interns’ primary role was to assist representatives from the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), and the Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) setting up and implementing various hydrology-related activities, and providing general support to ensure the event progressed as planned.

NRCS hydrologist Nathaniel Todea lines out his survey crew at Earth Connections Camp in Bluff, UT. Photo by BOR

The camp was a huge success, and feedback for ACE EPIC Interns was extremely positive. Jeanette Shackelford, the BLM-Utah Youth Program Lead, and Dr. Chuck Foster of the Utah State Board of Education, American Indian Education Specialist Title VII Programs, shared the following:

“On behalf of the rest of the Earth Connections Camp team, I want to tell you how much we appreciate the time and invaluable contributions the ACE interns provided to our American Indian science and culture camp last week. Jacob Garcia, Audrey Pefferman, Taylor Hohensee, and Robert Ford went above and beyond what was asked of them, and they were such a pleasure to work with. The agency instructors were very pleased with their work ethic and respectful, positive attitudes.”

“The Earth Connections Camp team continues to be impressed by the caliber of interns recruited by ACE, and ACE’s willingness to support our youth programs. Thank you to the [BLM] Field Office for loaning out the crew during this busy time of year. We look forward to working together on similar programs in the years to come.”

We thank the ACE EPIC Interns for all their hard work making the Earth Connections Camp a success, and positively promoting ACE’s willingness to support youth programs.

Earth Connections Bluff group photo. Bluff, UT. Photo by Bureau of Reclamation

Earth Connections Camp

Earth Connections Camp was launched in 2010 through a partnership between the Bureau of Land Management-Utah and the Utah State Board of Education Title VII Program. The idea is to provide a one-day natural science and cultural heritage camp for urban American Indian youth from the Salt Lake Valley, as well as southern Utah. In alignment with federal youth initiatives, the goal was to expose youth to meaningful outdoor learning experiences that emphasized a holistic curriculum of natural resource science-based activities, higher education and career paths, indigenous language, tribal history and art. American Indian educators and agency experts serve as instructors and mentors. The partnership includes the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Urban Indian Center, the U.S. Forest Service, Utah school districts, American Conservation Experience, and Red Butte Garden, among many others. Earth Connections Camps benefit 50-60 youth participants ages K-12 each year. Click here to view a 2015 video produced by the Bureau of Reclamation:

ACE-interns-celebrate-success-at-the-Bureau-of-Reclamations-miniature-dam-building-station.-Bluff-UT.-Photo-by-BLM-UT.

ACE-interns-celebrate-success-at-the-Bureau-of-Reclamations-miniature-dam-building-station.-Bluff-UT.-Photo-by-BLM-UT.

Log Out | Dixie National Forest

ACE Utah’s crosscut sawyers recently teamed up to complete a complex log-out project on the Pine Valley Ranger District of Dixie National Forest. The project site was a wilderness trail that had been covered by dead and downed trees caused by an avalanche slide. The avalanche debris covered the trail and water tributary.

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Due to the sheer volume of debris, the Forest Service was considering the use of explosive to clear the way. This is not without complications, however, and therefore the Forest Service turned to ACE for help.

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The ACE crew worked very hard to manually cut and remove all the logs, and the then rebuild the trail tread. Being in a wilderness area the use of chainsaws was prohibited and thus the crew used crosscut saws to complete the project.

The crew was led by David Frye who now heads off to work for ACE California in the Inyo National Forest. AmeriCorps member Brice Koach commented that his favorite part of the project was “practicing his crosscut and axe skills all while spending time with a great crew.”

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Restoration along the La Verkin Creek, Utah

This past week, an ACE Utah crew completed a four day hitch working to eradicate the invasive species Arundo Donax from the banks of the La Verkin Creek in Utah.

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Arundo Donax is a plant native to the Mediterranean. It is a perennial grass that grows in large stands up to thirty feet tall.

Arundo Donax can grow up to thirty feet tall

Arundo Donax can grow up to thirty feet tall

It is a voracious water consumer and can grow up to 6 inches per day. Furthermore the plant contains oils that make it a fire hazard. Combined, these factors make Arundo a very problematic plant. “If Arundo is left to grow, it can create a monoculture,” explained staff member Rick Anton. “We still have a chance to eradicate this species, but early detection and rapid response is our motto for this project.”

The crew used GPS to locate stands

The crew used GPS to locate stands

The eradication project is ongoing. Previously ACE crews went out on the creek, sawed down the stands, and sprayed the stumps with herbicide to prevent regrowth. The current project involved crews revisiting sites by following GPS coordinates and re-treating with herbicide any stands that had signs of new growth.

Cutting Arundo Donax plants by hand

Cutting Arundo Donax plants by hand

The conditions were hot and humid, and the task was repetitive. But the corps members remained in high spirits, even Bhrianna Malcolm, who has completed five hitches on this project. “It’s challenging work but I’m able to stay positive because you can see that your efforts are working. You can see that the plant is slowly becoming eradicated. It’s well worth it,” said Malcolm.

Spraying Arundo Donax stumps

Spraying Arundo Donax stumps

ACE’s work removing the Arundo Donax plant from the creekside is of significant importance to the restoration of this riparian zone to its original state.

Arundo Donax stumps

Arundo Donax stumps

ACE Utah @ Manti LaSal NF

Before, during and after shots of the turnpike

Before, during and after shots of the turnpike

Today, a crew returns from a hitch working in Manti-LaSal National Forest in Utah. The 8-day project initially focused on repairing a turnpike on the Josephite Point Trail, with the crew then moving to work on a reroute and construction of log drainage structures along the Castle Valley Ridge Trail.

The Manti LaSal crew's morning commute

The Manti LaSal crew’s morning commute

The reparation of the turnpike was a team effort. First, the old logs had to be removed and the rebar had to be salvaged. Next, sawyers felled trees that were the correct diameter for use in the construction of the retaining walls, and then cut them to 10 1/2 feet.

Sawyers cut trees of the correct diameter

Sawyers cut trees of the correct diameter

Crew members stripped the bark from the logs, a technique which will help them to withstand rot for a longer duration. Next the logs were hauled to the trail, and pounded into place with the salvaged rebar.

Drilling the harvested logs to insert the rebar

Drilling the harvested logs to insert the rebar

The project was important because the section of the trail that included the turnpike was a meadow that retained water easily during heavy rains, and the trail could be rendered impassable if it wasn’t reinforced. The crew’s efforts will ensure that visitors to the National Forest can have an enjoyable and safe experience.

High five for a job well done!

High five for a job well done!

We're busy conserving the environment