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ACE in Hawaii: Coqui Control and Miconia Management

Two of ACE’s Pacific West crews will be supporting the Maui Invasive Species Committee, a project of the Pacific Cooperative Studies Unit, within the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii with efforts to control infestations of two highly invasive species, the Coqui frog and miconia (Miconia calvescens). This work will be supported remotely by ACE Pacific West Restoration Specialist, Julia Parish, and ACE Pacific West Director Eric Robertson.

11 ACE crew members donning masks sit together in front of a stone building with lush green plants.

The ACE Coqui Control Crew quarantines together with masks in tow before beginning their invasive species mitigation work.

Upon arrival to the island of Maui last week, two ACE crews comprised of 11 individuals total began a two-week quarantine period in shared housing provided by the Maui Forest Bird Recovery Project. In these two weeks prior to starting service with the Maui Invasive Species Committee, both crews will prepare for project by participating in online training and service opportunities, including Hawaii based natural and cultural history discussions, an intensive project orientation coined “Coqui College”, and maintaining native plant outplanting sites on the housing property.  For more information on the mission of each project, continue reading below.

An ACE member in uniform smiles as they kneels to pull invasive plants.

An ACE member handpulls grasses during quarantine at the crew housing unit in Makawao, Maui Island.

Coqui control crew

Led by ACE Crew Leader Tess Herman, the ACE Coqui Control Crew will be surveying for coqui frogs and treating infested areas with citric acid. Coqui frogs (Eleutherodactylus coqui) were accidentally introduced to Hawaii on imported nursery plants. Hawaii’s native species did not evolve with amphibians, so there are no natural predators to maintain coqui populations. On the island of Hawaii, densities of coqui were recorded as high as 2,000 frogs per acre, which is more than twice the density found in their native range of Puerto Rico.

Coqui impact the quality of life of residents and visitors as their distinctive “KO-kee” nocturnal call may reach decibel levels that cause hearing damage (90+ decibels, or a motorcycle or ATV). The most significant negative impact these tiny frogs have is due to their voracious appetite for insects. Research indicates that they will eat most insects they find, except for two of the most invasive insect species in Hawaii – the Little Fire Ant and mosquitoes. Due to Hawaii’s remoteness, it is home to insect species found nowhere else on the planet, and these unique species are threatened by the presence of coqui. The ACE Coqui Crew will be working to prevent this invasive frog from spreading into upland native forests and decimating native arthropod and forest bird populations.

An ACE member in uniform flips through the pages of study material with lush tropical greenery in the background.

An ACE member flips through pages of study material outside of the Maui Island house during quarantine.

Miconia management crew  

Under the direction of ACE Crew Leader Ian Cockrill, the Miconia Management Crew will survey for and control miconia (Miconia calvescens), an invasive tree introduced to Hawaii via the plant trade industry. Miconia is native to rainforests of Central and South America where it primarily invades treefall gaps and is relatively uncommon. In Hawaii and other Pacific Islands, Miconia is considered one of the most destructive invaders of insular tropical rain forests, as it grows in dense stands which crowd or shade out native plant species, reduces rainwater recharge of aquifers while increasing soil erosion, and threatens already at risk native fauna populations as miconia reduces habitat availability. 

An ACE member and Crew Leader kneel together to look at lush grasses.

An ACE member and Crew Leader work together to identify plants near the Maui Island house during quarantine.

 

An ACE member in uniform pulls grasses near a tree as they smile at the camera.

Another ACE member contributes to maintenance around the Makawao, Maui Island house during quarantine.

American Conservation Experience announces Executive Vice President/Chief of Staff Miggins departure

For immediate release:

Flagstaff, AZ, August 11, 2020

American Conservation Experience (ACE) – ACE would like to acknowledge and announce the departure of Executive Vice President, Sarah Miggins. Sarah has been offered a truly exciting opportunity with the State of California to lead their State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Division.  Sarah has been involved with the Division as a volunteer Commissioner since 2015 and was poised to take on the Chair role. She received a call last month from the Governor’s office with the offer to serve as the Division lead and has accepted this appointment.

Sarah’s final day with ACE will be August 14.

Sarah has contributed immensely to the current programming at ACE and led a variety of efforts during her tenure. Among her many accomplishments was her work in coordinating and professionalizing our Human Resources department, supported our Healthy Workforce Initiative and has been a guide to staff and trusted advisor to ACE President, Laura Herrin. Sarah has been a true leader for ACE and the compassion and humanity that she brought to her decision making will be sorely missed.

We are very excited for Commissioner Miggins and proud of this recognition of her efforts. I know that her love for ACE and the conservation corps movement will continue and we look forward to following her stellar career!

From the State of California Governor’s Office:

California Governor Gavin Newsom has announced the appointment of Sarah Miggins as Deputy Director of the California State Parks Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Division(OHMVR). The OHMVR Division is the nation’s leader in management of off-highway vehicle recreation as a sustainable activity. The state-wide responsibility has existed for nearly 50 years; establishing practices that reduce or prevent damage to the environment from OHV activity by partnering with other local, state, and federal land managers including ACE. The program areas under the Division include Administration, OHV local grants program, Planning and Resources, Law Enforcement, Interpretation and Education.  The primary components of the Division are the management of 9 State Vehicular Recreation Areas (SVRAs), that provide motorized recreational opportunities on approximately 145,000 acres of State Parks’ lands. The second component is a grant program providing financial assistance to local, state and federal agencies as well as Native American tribes, nonprofits and educational institutions. Sarah has been a member of the Off -Highway Motor Vehicle Commission since 2018 and has been leading OHV volunteer programs since starting her career in conservation over two decades ago. 

For more information on the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Division (OHMVR) is doing visit their website at: https://ohv.parks.ca.gov/

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.

Welcome Summer 2020 CRDIP Members!

Fifteen fantastic ACE participants are getting underway from Maui to Maine for CRDIP, the 2020 Cultural Resources Diversity Internship Program.  CRDIP offers diverse and underrepresented youth a professional experience and exposure to the historic preservation/cultural resource management fields; meanwhile the National Park Service (NPS) has the opportunity to engage and mentor promising emerging professionals who might choose to work in this field.

During their 11-week terms these members will generate blogs about their experience, participate in group webinars and events, and hopefully have a great season of cultural resource management and cross-discipline training with their host-parks.  Here’s an introduction to the members themselves.  On CRDIP.org you can see more about their park locations and blog posts to come.

 

Ariadne Argyros – Boston National Historical Park/National Parks of BostonHello! My name is Ariadne Argyros and I was born and raised in Boston, MA. I first became interested in archeology when I volunteered at the Boston City Archaeology Lab in high school and participated in my first excavation by the historic Old North Church. I developed my passion for archaeology and museum studies during my time as an undergrad at the University of Vermont (UVM). My love of archaeology has led me to be a part of six excavations in various parts of the world both on land and
underwater spanning from Israel to Mexico. I also served as a collections management intern during my final year at UVM, and I am very excited to gain some more experience in the museum field as part of the Boston National Historical Park curatorial team! I knew that this opportunity would allow me to discover more of my hometown’s history firsthand, and it will be great to come back home to do more of that with the NHP. I graduated with my master’s degree from the University of Chicago this spring, and I hope to use my degrees and experiences to work as an archaeologist and curator to re-engage the public about the importance of preserving cultural history vis-à-vis exhibits that address significant past and present social issues. In my down time, I enjoy cooking, writing, painting, and hanging out with friends. I also have two wonderful dogs and an incredibly sassy bearded dragon named Gaius!

 

Marta Olmos – Minute Man National Historical Park

(She/Her) I’m from Gainesville, FL and I am working at Minute Man National Historic Park. I wanted to participate in this program because I am passionate about historical interpretation and telling diverse stories. I have a BA in History from Cornell University and an MLitt in Scottish History from the University of Glasgow. I volunteered for a year as a costumed interpreter at an 18th century home in Edinburgh before taking this internship. I love historical costuming and interpretation, I think living history is one of the most important forms of interpretation and often defines the visitor experience. I also love researching and writing about history. I hope to continue working in public history and interpretation, either with the NPS or another organization.

 

Isaac St. John – Northeast Regional Office and Acadia National Park

My name is Isaac St. John (he/him) and I am a member of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, or Wəlastəkwewiyik.  I currently reside in Sterling, VA, but am making my way back north to Maine for work with my tribe as the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer.  I am an undergraduate from Bates College in Lewiston, ME, and am a recently accepted graduate student to the University of New Brunswick at Fredericton for a Masters program in Archaeology. My work and educational background has taken me all over in pursuit of creating a solid foundation for my future goals.  I have done work in the PNW with tribes in that area, archaeological excavations throughout the mid-Atlantic, and some digs in the Maine region.  I have also worked with the National Museum of the American Indian in their curatorial and collections department, facilitating the study of native artifacts by visiting scholars and native tribes. This summer, I will be working with Bonnie Newsom, the University of Maine, and the Abbe Museum in Bar Harbor, Maine to analyze their archaeological collections and making the reports easier to understand to the communities they are related to, i.e. the Miꞌkmaq, Maliseet, Penobscot, and the Passamaquoddy.  In other words, I am trying to demystify archaeological collections to the communities they belong to. After this internship, I will be continuing on my career path towards helping my community with getting better acquainted with their past.  But when I’m not doing that, I enjoy reading anything that catches my attention, trying to learn a new skill in some way, and watching movies.

 

Maeve Marino – Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Hey there, I’m Maeve! I am a recent graduate of Ball State University (M.A.) and previously attended the University of Akron (B.A), concentrating in archaeology at both universities. I’m originally from north east Ohio and started my archaeological career in the area, which makes this CRDIP internship extra exciting as it has given me the opportunity to return to the area to work at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. I tend to focus on historical archaeology, though during this internship I will have the opportunity to delve deeper into prehistoric archaeology than I ever have before. I am excited for this internship to be a stepping stone towards a meaningful career in archaeology and cultural resource management, as well as connect with, and create a growing network of, cultural resource professionals during this time. 

 

Loissa Harrison-Parks – Gateway National Recreation Area

Hello! My name is Loissa Harrison-Parks and I am from the Grand Rapids/Central Michigan area. I graduated from Central Michigan University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Art History. During my undergrad, I worked as a student archeologist through the Najerilla Valley Research Project, in Najera, Spain. The overall goal of the project was to better understand the cultural sequence in the valley and to investigate the changes in settlement and material culture between the Late Iron Age and the 14th Century A.D. This included a study of ruins from 9th Century Jewish quarters ruled by one of the largest and most prominent Arabic governments within the Kingdom of Navarre and, later, in the Kingdom of Castile. My love and admiration for archeology led me to my current Volunteer Research position within Columbia University’s Archeology lab. During the mentorship of Dr. Zoe Crossland, I assisted in the analysis and categorization of 15th Century Madagascar rice samples. This summer I am thrilled to be working as an archeology tech at Gateway National Recreational Area in New York, New York. Gateway preserves some of the last remaining open space surrounding New York Harbor and contains the remains of important maritime structures, harbor fortifications and vestiges of military post life with extant structures dating back before the Civil War.

 

Rachel Steffen – Haleakala National Park

Hello! My name is Rachel Steffen. I am from Moloka’i, Hawai’i, however I currently reside in Missoula, Montana where I am a Master’s degree student in Anthropology at the University of Montana. My primary research has been focused in lowland Maya archaeology in Belize, where I have spent my field seasons for the last few years. I am currently finishing up my thesis on Late Terminal Classic Maya Architecture, from Cahal Pech, Belize. I focus on non-monumental architecture that was used by lower elites during the transformation of the Maya divine kingship system. While my background is primarily Maya archaeology, I am also interested in contemporary heritage issues and cultural anthropology. I am very excited to expand my archaeological knowledge and experience by having the opportunity to work as a CRDIP Archaeological Technician for Haleakalā National Park, in Maui, Hawai’i. Working in Hawai’i as an archaeologist has been a goal of mine for many years now. I will be surveying the Denman parcel of park land in southeast Maui and documenting the archaeological resources. After completing the internship, I hope to defend my thesis in November (and pass!). In addition, I am also in the midst of a Peace Corps application to serve in the South Pacific.

 

Jacob Hakim – Haleakala National Park

Aloha! My name is Jacob Hakim (he/him). I am a 4th year PhD student in Linguistics at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. For the past three years, I have been studying Language Documentation and Conservation with a focus on under-documented languages of Indonesia. I recently joined an NSF-funded project to document the Nasal language of Southwestern Sumatra, and I will be writing my PhD dissertation about Nasal intonational phonology. I am fascinated by the complex systems of factors that influence a language’s vitality, and I am committed to understanding those systems to help design materials and programs that foster longevity and vitality in endangered languages. I am also interested in the historical, cultural, and ethnographic aspects of language documentation, as language is not an isolated phenomenon used in a bubble – all of these factors interact as part of human culture and society. I am excited to draw on my experience studying unique narratives of human history and culture to work as a CRDIP Women’s History and 19th Amendment Interpretation Intern at Haleakalā National Park on Maui island. Together with the staff at the park, I will draw on both archival materials and oral history to create displays that present the stories of the women who have played a crucial role in the history of the park. These displays will be featured at the Haleakalā National Park Visitors Centers and Kahului Airport. I also love surfing, Paul Thomas Anderson movies, reading, games and game design, writing, playing and writing music, and data viz. I am so excited for this opportunity to continue exploring the history of the Hawaiian Islands, particularly such an important and often understated history, as my relationship with this land continues to grow. Mahalo to ACE and the NPS, and especially to the staff at HALE – I’m stoked for my first experience working in National Parks!

 

Timothy Maze – Keweenaw National Historical Park 

Aniin, my name is Timothy Maze (He/Him) and I am from Detroit, Michigan. I graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a B.S. in Anthropology, a focus in Archaeology, and a minor in History. I am currently enrolled in the Industrial Heritage and Archaeology master’s program at Michigan Technological University. My research interests include labor, capitalism, site formation processes, and industrial processes and its impact on communities. I was spurred to go into the field of anthropology by not only a love for history and culture, but an urge to find solutions to the modern issues we face today that are rooted in past processes. Anthropology, and more specifically, archaeology, allows me to use material culture to identify how the world has changed over time, and the implications left upon communities from those changes. I currently work in Cultural Resource Management. Once I graduate, I intend to pursue a PhD. This summer, I will be working at the Keweenaw National Historical Park in Calumet, Michigan. While there, I will be working to develop materials for the parks interpretation of prehistoric indigenous copper mining and usage throughout the Keweenaw Peninsula. I am excited to use my time on this project to understand the history of the region, as well as the ways in which the copper industry was formed. ranging from early indigenous mining to large corporate entities.

 

Héctor Berdecía-Hernández – National Center for Preservation Technology and Training

My name is Héctor Berdecía Hernández, and I am from Bayamón, Puerto Rico. I am currently serving as a Materials Conservation Assistant at the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) of the U.S. National Park Service. As part of my internship, I will be developing a self-directed investigation on weathered steel conservation treatments, commercially available anti-graffiti coatings, and graffiti removal methods that may be suitable for use on weathering steel. I received an M.Sc. Historic Preservation with a concentration on Architectural Conservation at the University of Pennsylvania, a B.EnvD. in Environmental Design-Architecture with a double major in History of the Americas, and a Post-Bachelor Certificate in Urban Studies from the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras. I also studied Conservation Science courses within Georgetown University and the Universitá degli Studi de Firenze. I currently serve as a Co-Communications Officer of the Emerging Conservation Professionals Network (ECPN) Board of the American Institute for Conservation (AIC). I enjoy cooking and reading about a broad range of topics, including history, urbanism, and politics. Academic research has been an essential part of my professional development and will be crucial in my professional practice. This internship is an opportunity of being part of a pioneering research that contributes to my professional and research interests in architectural conservation and cultural resources management. In the future, I expect to keep working on diverse community projects and continue my path on becoming a licensed architect, and a prospective doctoral candidate.

 

Taylor Brookins – Northeast Regional Office

My name is Taylor Brookins and I am from New Jersey. I graduated from Morgan State University in May of 2020 with a Masters in Museum Studies and Historical Preservation. I also graduated from Lincoln University in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Anthropology and Sociology. I am excited to be working as an intern in partnership with the National Park Service at the North East Regional Office. In this role, I will be expanding on the “Telling All Americans Stories in Delaware” project, which entails researching African American and Native American History. I applied for this CRDIP opportunity because I have a passion for public history and would like to contribute to expanding knowledge on the history of marginalized communities. I am looking forward to expanding my skills in order to pursue a career in the public history and museum field. 

 

Anna Tiburzi – Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation

My name is Anna Tiburzi. I’m a Master of Landscape Architecture candidate at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY ESF). As I’m entering my third year of the program, my short-term goals are to earn my MLA degree and, in doing so, refine my interests in the discipline and broaden my knowledge and experience base. For this project, I’ll be working with the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation (OCLP), a cultural branch of the National Park Service (NPS) based in Boston, and SUNY ESF’s Center for Cultural Landscape Preservation (CCLP) on documentation collection, organization, and synthesis in preparation for a Cultural Landscape Report (CLR) for the Elizabeth Cady Stanton House and Chamberlain House properties in Seneca Falls, NY. I received my B.A. in Geography from SUNY Geneseo in 2015. The evolution of landscapes has always been my first love and the relationship between people, cultures, and landscapes is what forms the foundation for my interest in Landscape Architecture. This summer, I’m looking forward to exploring the history and landscapes associated with the Stanton House and Chamberlain House sites. This is my second summer with the Olmsted Center, CCLP, and ACE. Though I’ll be working remotely from my hometown in White Plains, NY and my university in Syracuse, NY, this project presents a great opportunity to explore both digital and physical archives throughout the state and delve deep into the wealth of information and history associated with the sites. Having participated in ACE’s CRDIP and the OCLP’s DTP programs last year, I know that their associates not only have the opportunity to become intimately familiar with a park or part of NPS operations, but also get to work with the enthusiastic and motivated CCLP and NPS staff and other associates and I’m looking forward to another rewarding summer with a completely new project.

 

Maria Smith – Women’s Rights National Historical Park

My name is Maria Smith and I am from Romeo, Michigan. I am a current Anthropology Ph.D. Candidate at Syracuse University and am an alumnus of Western Michigan University (B.A. Anthropology & Spanish) and Syracuse University (M.A. Anthropology). I am excited to be the incoming ACE CRDIP 19th Amendment Media Assistant at the Women’s Rights National Historic Park in Seneca Falls, New York. I am looking forward to expanding and developing my skills to pursue a career in cultural resource management, heritage preservation, and public interpretation and education.

 

Sandhya Narayanan – Northeast Regional Office/Salem Maritime National Historical Site

Hi everyone! My name is Sandhya Narayanan (she/her), and I am excited to be part of the CRDIP cohort for this summer. I am originally from Canada, and spent most of my life growing up between Canada and in Boston, MA. Right now, I can proudly say that I have just completed my PhD in Linguistic and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Michigan. My PhD work was primarily in the Andes (in Peru and Bolivia) where I worked on indigenous language politics with Quechua and Aymara speakers in the highlands. I would say that my interest in cultural diversity, history, and the language that connects them both came from my own upbringing as a first-generation immigrant and also growing up within and without South Asian enclaves in the U.S. and Canada. From a really young age, I remember having to negotiate my understanding and knowledge of my family history, language, culture, and traditions with those histories as taught in school as written about in history books. Having to do this for most of my life also made me more interested in thinking how this worked, and how we could share those stories with others to bring about a better understanding of marginalized stories and histories. This summer I will be a Resource Assistant with Salem Maritime and Saugus Ironworks National Historic Sites, up in Massachusetts. Mainly, I will be working to build increased collaboration and engagements between these two historic sites with the local Nipmuc and Massachusett tribes, whose traditional lands both of these sites are located on. I am really excited to be doing this work back in a place that I grew up in. It has also been very inspiring to see how these sites can also be places to promote social justice through engaging in partnerships with indigenous and minority communities, and highlighting these efforts to educate the broader public. I look forward to sharing more about my adventures this summer with you all. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, teaching dance, and reading novels that are some combination of gossipy entertainment and society critique. The more gossipy…the better!

 

Sonya Carrizales – Yellowstone National Park

Hello, my name is Sonya Carrizales and I use she/her pronouns. I am originally from Wyoming, currently living in Massachusetts, and I’ve moved eleven places in between. I am a rising sophomore at Mount Holyoke College planning to major in Environmental Studies. This summer, I will be interning as an ACE CRDIP Women’s Historian at Yellowstone National Park in Gardiner, MT. I decided to apply for the Women’s Historian position because of my passion for women’s rights and interest in exploring different careers within the National Park Service. My familial ties to Cody, WY and the surrounding Bighorn Basin have allowed me to visit Yellowstone a number of times growing up. I am excited to reconnect with Yellowstone and commemorate the unheard stories of women who have shaped Yellowstone’s history. I’m planning to take full advantage of the resources and expertise I will have available to me by learning from my on-site mentors while refining my research skills. Hopefully, I will discover my own passions, goals, and future within the National Park Service through rediscovering the legacies of women who came before me. After completing this incredible internship, I will continue to work towards my undergraduate degree and look for job opportunities in the fields of cultural preservation and environmental education.

 

Sabrina Gonzalez – Homestead National Monument of America
(She/Her) Hello! My name is Sabrina Gonzalez and I am from New Jersey. I am currently a senior at Rutgers University with a double major in history and political science. I will be receiving my B.A. this
December. Afterwards, I will be working towards my M.A. in American History. I am passionate about history because it is important to remember and preserve the members of our society
that have changed our way of life. With my ambition, I plan to become an Interpretation Ranger for a Historical National Park. I am proud to say that I will be spending my summer in Beatrice,
Nebraska as a Historian intern. I will be researching the vast connections between the Homestead Act of 1862 and the Suffrage Movement. This is in celebration of the 19th Amendment anniversary. I am lucky to say that this is my second term with American Conservation Experience. Last summer, I was an ACE Museum Technician at Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial. I was also accepted and attended the National Park Service Academy of 2020 that is partnered with ACE. I am thrilled to work with the NPS and ACE again and cannot wait to hear about everyone’s experience this summer!

 

Peter Woodruff – National Division Director: ACE EPIC, Emerging Professionals In Conservation

Hi there, I’ve been with ACE going on 7 years where I oversee all aspects of NPS partnership and management, ensuring that positive relationships continue.  I have a variety of conservation experiences from the field: backcountry patrol work in the Brooks Range and Yukon River of Alaska (NPS); environmental stewardship and education as an AmeriCorps member in Barnstable County, MA (DNR, NPS, and NGO land trusts); wildlife monitoring in the Sierras (Sequoia National Forest, USFS); and vegetation dynamics research in Chobe National Park, Botswana. When I’m not working with talented ACE EPIC Interns/Fellows and amazing NPS staff, I’m often found on the trail, beach, or enjoying some other form of outdoor fun.

 

Jen Wells – Recruitment Specialist, NPS Division: ACE EPIC

After graduating with a Biology degree from The College of New Jersey, I traveled cross country to work at Saguaro National Park through ACE as a Resource Management Intern. After falling in love with field work, I participated in another AmeriCorps term conducting vegetation surveys in National Parks and Monuments throughout Georgia and Florida. Then I accepted a position back in my home state with The Nature Conservancy to implement floodplain restoration projects and river water quality monitoring in northwest New Jersey. Jen is excited to return to ACE, helping others engage with and serve on public lands as a Recruitment Specialist. In my free time, I love to hike, volunteer at local animal shelters, and knit!

 

Paloma Bolasny – NPS Youth Programs Coordinator, Cultural Resources, Partnerships, and Science directorate 

Paloma works in the Cultural Resources Office of Interpretation and Education as coordinator to several national internship programs, including the Cultural Resources Diversity Internship Program (CRDIP) and the National Council for Preservation Education (NCPE) intern program.  In her 12 years with the NPS, Paloma has worked for the National Register of Historic Places and the Park History Program. Paloma looks forward to hearing from interns about their internship experience every year!  She is from Bethesda, Maryland and has a BA in history and historic preservation from the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA and a Masters in Historic Preservation from the University of Kentucky.  Outside of work Paloma volunteers as an adoption counselor with a local dog rescue organization. Contact: paloma_bolasny@nps.gov or 202-354-2174

 

 

Letter from Laura Herrin | Black Lives Matter


The events of this past week have been devastating, heartbreaking, infuriating and a culmination of decades of racism and privilege in this country.
We must and will stand with the Black community, not only in a time of crisis, but at all times. Our country, our organization and each of us must stand up to racism, oppression, and injustice wherever it exists.

Never have we felt greater despair than during the recent week of pain. And at the same time we have seen glimmers of hope; large and peaceful protests, police marching in solidarity and kneeling with protesters and volunteers cleaning destroyed neighborhoods.

This hateful violence is not a new story — it is older than the nation. Too little has changed since then. 

While it is key to acknowledge the historic oppression of Black people and our collective role, it is equally important for ACE to fight against their continued oppression by working towards a more inclusive and equitable conservation workforce, where all people feel safe and respected. As we have confronted harassment–head on, gloves off and unfiltered, we will confront racism and inequity. We must.

I know that some of you are expecting a social media blitz and are angry that this has ‘taken so long’. I get it, but we have to be more than a statement or a hashtag.  Too many times over the years I have seen the statements, the links, the facebook posts and yet nothing changes. People and organizations post and act like that is the solution. 

ACE and other corps play a unique role in shaping future leaders in conservation. Within ACE we have an opportunity to help grow a more diverse workforce for the entire conservation field. In order to do so we must be truly inclusive and take a hard look at ourselves. This will not happen overnight and it will not be easy. We may ultimately make a small dent in a very large problem. But it is dent worth making

There is so much going on right now, please take a moment and take care of each other. 

Laura

American Conservation Experience Receives the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) Partnership Award

American Conservation Experience (ACE) is proud to announce that we have received the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) Partnership Award.

This award was presented to ACE CEO, Laura Herrin, by PCTA Executive Director, Liz Bergeron during their annual meeting in Sacramento. This award is in recognition of organizations such as ACE that have contributed to the Pacific Crest Trail System.

“In recognition of your tremendous contribution to the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail and collaboration with the Pacific Crest Trail Association. Our partnership is essential in completing significant projects, such as the Mountain Fire restoration. Thank you for your commitment to this work and the conservation ethic you have inspired in countless young adults, including the PCTA volunteers whom you’ve welcomed into your crews. The ACE-PCTA partnership will benefit generations of Pacific Crest Trail hikers and horseback riders for years to come.” -PCTA

PCTA and ACE launched this collaboration back in 2013. The results of this collaboration were presented by Jen Trip who is the PCTA Director of Trails Operations. We were delighted to learn that since our partnerships inception ACE coordinated 88,000 volunteer crew hours, including both PCTA volunteers and ACE members. We served over 20 National Forests and several BLM units rehabilitating trails destroyed by wildfires and maintaining over 400 miles of the iconic PCT.

ACE President and CEO Laura Herrin adds: “We are so appreciative to receive this partnership award from PCTA. This is a long standing and important partnership that has grown and developed over the years. It is an honor to provide our trails crews this experience and they are so proud to serve on one of the greatest trails in the nation. We look forward too many years and miles together.”

For more information on the great work that Pacific Crest Trail Association is doing visit their website at: www.pcta.org

Catalina Island | Planting Project

 

In partnership with the Catalina Island Conservancy, ACE Pacific West and Mountain West worked for two weeks on stunning Catalina Island. This 22-mile long island is a part of the Channel Islands of the California archipelago. Located approximately 29 miles south-southwest of Long Beach, CA, the island is home to a variety of flora and fauna.  It is estimated that the island has been inhabited for nearly 8,000 years. The island was originally inhabited by the indigenous people known as the Pimugnans or Pimuvit people who called the island Pimugna or Pimu. Territorial claims to the island passed from the Spanish Empire to Mexico and eventually to the United States. As a land of plenty, the island was used for hunting, mining, ranching and for military operations. The islands quirky history includes being once owned by William Wrigley, Jr. of Wrigley chewing gum and being the set of many Hollywood films. The land today remains largely undeveloped and wild due to Wrigley deeding 88% of the island to the Catalina Island Conservancy.  This February ACE deployed a six-person crew lead by ACE crew leader, Ali Gaugler. The objective of this project was to work alongside the Catalina Conservancy to assist them to complete funding from Natural Resource Conservation Service to restore 1111.1 acres of habitat by establishing native trees and shrubs. The mission of the Catalina Island Conservancy is to be responsible stewards of its lands through a balance of conservation, education, and recreation.By planting these native trees, this project will help restore and enhance Catalina Island’s native habitat. The crews were assisting with a process known as “out-planting.” This is the act of putting plants with established roots into the soil and usually follows with watering, as opposed to sowing, which involves tossing the seeds in a controlled manner into the soil to initiate their sprouting.

Flyways and Byways

Flyways and Byways

By: Lindsey Broadhead and Paul List

Each year millions of migratory birds utilize invisible superhighways to reach their nesting and wintering grounds. Our time surveying visitors these past few months was spent at a few important spots in the middle of one of these superhighways – the 4,000 mile long Pacific flyway. This flyway runs north-south from the Arctic to Mexico, crossing the entire west coast of the US and states such as Utah, Idaho, and Nevada. The diversity and abundance of birds in the wildlife refuges along the flyway bring joy to birders, photographers, hunters, and casual passersby alike as migration, one of nature’s grandest spectacles, occurs twice a year.

Snow geese along the Sacramento NWR auto tour. Photo by Lindsey Broadhead

Sacramento NWR Complex

In the heart of California’s Sacramento Valley lies the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex. The complex protects the last remaining riparian and wetland habitat in the valley, and is a vital wintering ground for thousands of waterfowl. While we were there, we spotted 5 species of goose (and a cackling/white-fronted goose hybrid!), 10 species of duck, tundra swans, and plenty of other migratory wetland birds such as long-billed curlews and sandhill cranes. With the influx of waterfowl comes an influx of predators, and birds of prey from bald eagles to great horned owls to red shouldered hawks were a common sight along the auto tours and viewing platforms of these refuges.

Our first three weeks in California were spent surveying visitors at Sacramento River NWR. This refuge is comprised of 30 disjointed units up and down the Sacramento River, all providing a safe haven for riparian wildlife and recreation opportunities for visitors. We were excited to learn that this refuge has frequent mountain lion sightings throughout its many units, but unfortunately neither of us were lucky enough to spot the elusive big cat. We were, however, just in time for prime sandhill crane viewing at the Llano Seco unit and met many birders and wildlife photographers that came to the unit specifically for the cranes.

Sandhill crane at Sacramento River NWR. Photo by Lindsey Broadhead

After our time along the river, we spent our remaining two weeks at Sacramento NWR, the hub of the complex. This refuge has plenty to offer- from birding to hiking to hunting, and because of its convenient location along I-5, we were able to speak to hundreds of people from all over the United States. We even had spare time to help out with an elementary school field trip and man the front desk of the visitor center for a few hours, which was a nice change of pace from surveying. Our housing at this refuge (appropriately named The Blue Goose Inn) was within walking distance of the visitor center and the beautiful wetland walking trails where mule deer, striped skunks, and great horned owls were a common sight. We spent many evenings enjoying the sunset along the trails and watching the thousands of geese fly off to feed in the nearby rice fields for the night.

The warm sunny climate of this region was a welcome change from colder temperatures up north, and it was easy to see why waterfowl would take advantage of this. With food aplenty and days filled with sun, this refuge felt like a waterfowl vacation destination, with population numbers steadily increasing the 5 weeks we spent there. When we left in mid November, the total waterfowl population was estimated to be 604,893 at Sacramento NWR, and a staggering 1,448,948 throughout the complex’s many other refuges in the valley.

White-fronted geese at Sacramento River NWR. Photo by Lindsey Broadhead

Mid Columbia River NWR Complex

After our time in California, we returned to Washington to continue sampling at the Mid Columbia River National Wildlife Refuge complex, home to additional stops for migrating birds along the Pacific Flyway. We had already sampled salmon anglers at one location in this complex: Hanford Reach National Monument (previously known as Saddle Mountain National Wildlife Refuge). But the new season brought out a new source of visitation-waterfowl hunters- at two new refuges: Columbia and McNary.

Located in the northern part of the complex, Columbia National Wildlife Refuge is a quiet site with dynamic scenery. With basalt cliffs shaped by volcanic activity and glacial flows thousands of years ago, this refuge attracts hunters seeking waterfowl, small upland game, and deer. While we had stayed at the Columbia bunkhouse when sampling at Saddle Mountain, we had not previously explored the refuge itself, and we enjoyed the opportunity to hike the trails and see our first snow of the season. While our exploring, Lindsey successfully uncovered one of the oldest geocaches in Washington, which is hidden somewhere beneath the refuge’s abundant sagebrush.

A hiking club out exploring the sagebrush wilderness. Photo by Lindsey Broadhead

Columbia NWR, with its protected wetlands and expansive habitat, is an important stopping point for many waterfowl during their migrations. It is home to an annual sandhill crane festival every spring as these great birds stop at the refuge on their way back north. Although we left a few months earlier than the sandhill cranes we saw at Sacramento NWR, it was nice to see the place where many of them would likely be stopping on their spring migration.

After Columbia, we had a short drive south to McNary National Wildlife Refuge, the headquarters for the Mid Columbia complex. Located along the Columbia River, this refuge featured ample opportunities for waterfowl hunting, viewing areas for photographers and birders, a two mile trail for walkers and explorers, and an environmental education center. While thick fog and ice on the water were less than ideal for visitation, the team was still able to meet a number of hunters and other visitors.

Lindsey surveys hunters at the hunt check station, which is also the environmental education building. Photo by Paul List.

In addition to visitors, Paul and Lindsey were able to meet with the Friends of Mid-Columbia River Wildlife Refuges. As was the case at other refuges, the friends group is instrumental in maintaining and growing the refuge, from manning the hunt check station to carrying out improvement projects around the headquarters. Paul and Lindsey got a taste of this sort of work by spending an afternoon volunteering with one of the Friends on various projects. They also got a taste of some delicious desserts at the Friends’ holiday party/planning meeting for the upcoming year. Paul is currently accepting suggestions for what to do with the new vest he won in the raffle (it has 14 pockets-he counted).

Paul and his 14-pocketed vest. Photo by Lindsey Broadhead

Like the birds that rely on these important refuges, we have spent the past four months migrating across the country. And like these birds, we found it necessary (or at least enjoyable) to make some stops along the way. The wildlife refuges discussed in our blog may have been our primary destinations (and worthy destinations they are), but our journey would not have been the same without many other stops. Should you find yourself in the Pacific Flyway (or Oklahoma), we encourage you to give these places a visit.

National Park System:
Rocky Mountain NP
Mesa Verde NP
Mt Rainier NP
Lassen Volcanic NP
Lava Beds NM
Golden Spike NHS

Restaurants:
Absolute Bakery & Cafe (Mancos, CO)
Yogurty Smogurty (Othello, WA)
Mayan Fusion (Fort Bragg, CA)
Anne’s Country Kitchen (Lawton, OK)
The Meers Store (Meers, OK)
Donut Wheel (Willows, CA)
Angie’s Restaurant (Logan, UT)
Black Bear Diner (CA chain)
Thai Orchid Cafe (Klamath Falls, CA)
Buckin’ Bean Coffee Roasters (Pendleton, OR)
Ironworks Cafe and Market (Othello, WA)
Smith’s-get the deli pizza (UT grocery store)

Attractions:
High Desert Museum (Bend, OR)
REACH Museum (Richland, WA)
National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center (Baker City, OR)
Stokes Nature Center (Logan, UT)
NOYO Center (Fort Bragg, CA)
MacKerricher State Park (Fort Bragg, CA)
Three Island Crossing State Park (Glenn’s Ferry, ID)
Antelope Island State Park (Syracuse, UT)
North Cheyenne Canyon Park (Colorado Springs, CO)
Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens (Fort Bragg, CA)
Sacramento Zoo (Sacramento, CA)
Shoshone Falls (Twin Falls, Oregon)
Berkeley Pit-aka the “Death Pit” (Butte, MT)
Wilson’s Arch and Looking Glass Arch (Hwy 191, near Moab, UT)
Sierra Nevada Brewery (Chico, CA)
The World’s Largest Functioning Yo-Yo (Chico, CA)
Utah State University (Logan, UT)
Klamath Basin Wildlife Refuges (CA & OR) – shoutout to Jeremy who gave us pumice rocks and sugar pine cones at Klamath Marsh!

ACE California | Pacific Crest Trail

ACE’s Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) crews just wrapped up another season on the trail! These unique crews get to travel throughout California working on various parts of the iconic PCT, creating a safer and more sustainable trail for thousands to enjoy each year.

The PCT is a 2,654 mile trail that runs from the border of Mexico to Canada. The trail was first proposed in 1932 by Clinton C. Clarke. By 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson defined the PCT and the Appalachian Trail with the National Trails System Act and the trail was officially declared finished in 1993. The trail was built in cooperation with the federal government and volunteers organized by the Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA). The PCTA continues to work on the trail and since 2013 has brought on ACE crews to work alongside them!

Approximately 700-800 hikers attempt to thru-hike the PCT each year, but the PCT also hosts weekend backpackers and day hikers all the same. The trail passes through the Laguna, Santa Rosa, San Jacinto, San Bernardino, San Gabriel, Liebre, Tehachapi, Sierra Nevada, and Klamath ranges in California, and the Cascade Range in California, Oregon, and Washington.

The ACE crew began work this past spring, working on southern parts of the trail and made their way north as the California summer weather crept in. We caught up with the crew while they were working out of the ACE Pacific West North branch in South Lake Tahoe in various locations including the Sierra Buttes, Donner Peak, and Echo Summit.

The work included everything from general trail maintenance to reroutes. The rugged terrain and bare mountain tops along the PCT brought a lot of complicated rockwork for the ACE crews this season. The crews were led by ACE crew leaders Matthew Rump and Sarah Phillips and ACE’s traveling project manager, Ginger Wojciechowski.

It’s not easy to sum up a season of work especially on a trail like the PCT but ACE crew leader, Matthew Rump reflected on the “why” of trail work, a concept that might be overlooked by many. 

Why do trail work? Don’t animals make the trails that we hike on? It’s remarkable how much is hidden from the user enjoying a hike on an established trail. The subtle changes in grade, cleared brush, buried retaining structures, or sneaky steps; all meticulously engineered to create a sustainable travel surface that allows the user to focus on the surrounding scenery, rather than the burn in their legs. Most well-designed trails will hardly look as though human hands carved them into a landscape.”

“Inevitably nature always has the final say, she may wish to move her rivers and replace your trail with a 15ft cliff. In these cases, the subtlety of trail work is pushed to the wayside and the evidence of our work is revealed. This is the process of creating a safe, sustainable passage for those wishing to explore the Sand to Snow National Monument and San Gorgonio Wilderness. Eliminating erosive scrambles up the cliff, sediment deposition into the nearby Whitewater River, and user-damage of the sensitive desert riparian area. A staircase of native rock, carried by hand, set without mortar. The work is backbreaking and occasionally makes one neurotic. This was an appropriate capstone to mine and my crew’s trail-building season.”

ACE crews are already looking forward to the next season on the PCT. https://www.pcta.org/

Trail Inventory and Maintenance | San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, CA

In 2019, ACE Pacific West South was awarded funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) for trail restoration and trail improvement activities within the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument (SGMNM). Together, the San Gabriel Mountains and nearby Angeles National Forest (ANF) are a tremendous resource for the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area, accounting for a combined 70% of the region’s open space and providing roughly a third of Los Angeles’ drinking water. Each year, millions of visitors take advantage of a wide variety of recreational opportunities, including hiking, fishing, horseback riding, OHV use, and wildlife watching in the area. 

The ACE Pacific West South crew poses while completing trail work in the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.

This wild and rugged landscape, only 90 minutes away or less from over 15 million people, is also home to rare and unique wildlife like California condor, spotted owl, bighorn sheep, and 1000-year old limber pine. The grizzly bear, proudly displayed on the California State flag, used to roam these mountains in high density, but were hunted to extinction in the early 1900’s. Surprisingly, the black bear, which our crews encountered on several occasions during this project, are not native to Southern California. In an effort to put bears back into the “food chain” after the grizzlies were gone, as well as move some problematic “garbage bears” from Yosemite Valley, over a dozen black bears were transplanted from Yosemite into the San Gabriel Mountains near Crystal Lake in November 1933. 

Members enjoy the mountain view from the work site on a short break.

The project’s primary goals were to restore or maintain system trails to U.S. Forest Service standards, to improve habitat and water quality to support healthy ecosystems, and to create or enhance opportunities for trail users to understand and appreciate the natural and cultural heritage of the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument. In March 2019, ACE National Trails Coordinator, Mark Loseth, assisted Pacific West South staff with conducting a trail assessment and inventory to determine the scope of work needed to reach project goals. Due to an unprecedented amount of snow and rainfall in Southern California over the previous winter, area trails saw heavy impact, with a great deal of trees blown down onto the trail. Before beginning work on specific trail features, the crew was tasked with removing a bulk of these trees from trail paths in the San Gabriel Mountains area. Effects of inclement weather, as well as heavy trail use and deferred maintenance, meant the crew had their work cut out for them!

Members work to remove downed trees from the trail using crosscut saws.

 

Members carefully coordinate the movement of cut rounds out of the trail.

Even with the winter damage, the crews maintained 10 trails that totaled more than 45 miles over 11 weeks. By the end of the project, twenty-nine logs, ranging from 10 inches to 48 inches in diameter and from Jefferson Pine to Ponderosa Pine, were bucked from the trail. The crew maintained almost five miles of trail, installed or repaired 52 grade dips, and installed more than 20 square feet of rock retaining wall. The ACE team had the amazing opportunity to work alongside volunteers from San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders, learning crosscut saw techniques and valuable trail knowledge from experienced trail workers and C-level crosscut buckers.

Washington State | Access Fund

One very lucky ACE Southwest crew was sent to Washington state on an extended project at the end of this summer. The crew recently returned to Flagstaff after spending six project weeks working with the North Cascade Mountains backdrop. Led by ACE crew leader, AnnaMarie Rodenhausen, and in partnership with the Access Fund, the crew worked to create a more sustainable route to several climbing spots off of the Blue Lake Trail in the popular Liberty Bell climbing area. 

 The Access Fund is a not-for-profit rock climbing advocacy group in the US. Their mission is to keep climbing areas open and to gain access to currently closed climbing areas as well as promoting an ethic of responsible climbing and conservation of climbing. Many popular rock climbing areas are discovered unofficially by climbers resulting in many social trails leading up to the base of these rock walls. Social trails are typically not sustainable and usually where there is one, there are many. By establishing one main route up to these spots, the impact of hikers and climbers is concentrated on one sustainable path. This is especially important in areas such as the North Cascades which is a sensitive alpine environment. 

The crew worked closely alongside the Access Fund partners to build rock staircases, reroutes, and rock walls to armor switchbacks. Gathering rocks for these projects involved transporting rocks longer distances. The crew utilized nets and advanced rigging systems to move rocks from their source to the building sites. After the new route was established the crew worked to naturalize and rehabilitate the old social trails to enable vegetation regrowth. ACE is grateful to have been able to spend an extended amount of time in one of the most beautiful places in the US!

An EPIC Summer in Providence, RI | April Alix

This summer, ACE EPIC member April Alix worked with the Partnership for Providence Parks (PPP) in Providence, Rhode Island. The Partnership was established in the Spring of 2012 in order to bring the Parks Department and area Friends Groups together with nearby businesses, nonprofits and schools committed to their local neighborhoods and the value of flourishing community green spaces. April assisted the organization as an Urban Educator, focused on creating free and open play for children, as well as offering innovative programs and events to get children and adults healthy, moving, and inspired. Through an Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Partnership for Providence Parks is able to continuously reach a wide-range of audiences and offer authentic outdoor experiences using city parks as exploratory spaces. 

Member April Alix interacts with a sloth at the Teacher Institute during her ACE EPIC term with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

During the program, April helped with a variety of trainings and programs connecting urban children and families to the outdoors. Partnering with the Roger Williams Park Zoo, she helped facilitate outdoor play dates at local libraries and parks that allowed children to play and explore. April also participated in an annual BioBlitz run by the RI Natural History Survey, in which volunteers, working scientists, and avocational naturalists worked to tally as many species of organisms as possible in 24 hours on a particular parcel of land. This year, the BioBlitz took place in a large city park with more than 1,127 species recorded! Through another collaboration with the Zoo, April took part in the Teacher Institute, a program engaging 10 Providence Public School teachers-in-training in the best practices for teaching outdoors. Teachers had the opportunity to learn about local biodiversity, conservation projects in the state, climate change education practices, and urban ecology. A fan favorite of this program was setting pit-fall traps to capture carrion beetles, baiting them with rotting chicken in the heat of July! 

Member April Alix works with the Teacher Institute to bait carrion beetles.

 

Member April Alix holds a container full of captured carrion beetles.

Throughout her term, April routinely assisted with field trips on Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, inspiring local Providence youth through activities such as hiking and seining in a salt pond. In the community event Cops and Bobbers, April joined partner organizations and local police officers to teach children how to fish while making positive interactions and meaningful conversation. 

Member April Alix works on conservation crafts with local youth.

Overall, it was exciting to see these urban spaces activated with so many programs! April thoroughly enjoyed working as an Urban Educator with a variety of partners throughout Rhode Island that make these meaningful programs possible. 

National Wildlife Day

These are the creatures that could disappear from each U.S. state

 

When you think of endangered animals, species found far inside a tropical rain forest or deep below the ocean’s surface might to spring to mind. However, each state in the U.S. is also home to its own unique animal at risk of going extinct.

 

“Recovering species is a biological question, not an economic question […] The new rules completely undermine the strength of the ESA. The point of the act is to prevent extinction; this is going to do the opposite. It’s going to undermine efforts to recover species.”

Leah Gerber
Prof. of Conservation Science, Arizona State University

 

To tie in with National Wildlife Day on September 4th, NetCredit has launched an illustrated tribute to shed light, and a bit of love, on those less-famous endangered species highlighted by the US Fish and Wildlife Service:

 

STATE SPECIES STATE SPECIES STATE SPECIES
Alabama Alabama beach mouse Louisiana Louisiana pine snake Ohio Copperbelly water snake
Alaska Blue whale Maine New England cottontail Oklahoma American burying beetle
Arizona Mount Graham red squirrel Maryland Maryland darter Oregon Loggerhead sea turtle
Arkansas Ivory billed woodpecker Massachusetts Humpback whale Pennsylvania Short-eared owl
California Point Arena mountain beaver Michigan Kirtland’s warbler Rhode Island Hawksbill sea turtle
Colorado Uncompahgre fritillary butterfly Minnesota Rusty patched bumble bee South Carolina Frosted flatwoods salamander
Connecticut Bog turtle Mississippi Mississippi sandhill crane South Dakota Black-footed ferret
Delaware Delmarva Peninsula fox squirrel Missouri Ozark hellbender Tennessee Nashville crayfish
Florida: Red wolf Montana Whooping crane Texas Northern Aplomado falcon
Georgia Etowah darter Nebraska Salt creek tiger beetle Utah Utah prairie dog
Hawaii Akikiki Nevada Mount Charleston blue butterfly Vermont Spotted turtle
Idaho Woodland caribou New Hampshire Blanding’s turtle Virginia Shenandoah salamander
Indiana Indiana bat New Jersey Sei whale Washington Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit
Illinois Illinois cave amphipod New Mexico New Mexico meadow jumping mouse West Virginia Virginia big-eared bat
Iowa Iowa pleistocene snail New York Eastern massasauga Wisconsin Piping plover
Kansas Neosho mucket North Carolina Carolina northern flying squirrel Wyoming Wyoming toad
Kentucky Kentucky arrow darter North Dakota Least tern    

 

CREDIT: 

https://www.netcredit.com/blog/illustrated-tribute-to-the-most-endangered-wildlife-in-every-us-state/

 

 

San Juan National Historic Site | Puerto Rico

In 2015, ACE Puerto Rico was established through a partnership with San Juan National Historic Site. The site is managed by the National Park Service and its’ mission is to protect and interpret colonial-era forts, bastions, powder houses, and three-fourths of the old city wall. The ACE crew primarily works at the two forts, Castillo San Cristobal and Castillo San Felipe del Morro. 

Due to the sites’ location in Puerto Rico’s capital, and given its’ great historical value, the site receives over a million visitors each year. The partnership began to assist the site in maintaining the facilities, including cleaning litter from the grounds. Since the onset of this partnership, the work has expanded into trail building and historic restoration. A new nature trail now exists around the perimeter of the old city wall that ends at a spectacular view of the ocean. 

A daily, ongoing part of the maintenance division’s duties at San Juan National Historic Site is preserving and repairing the two-and-a-half miles of fortress walls and three forts. Hurricane Maria accelerated the natural erosion that takes place from rain and wind and has caused a higher demand for repairs.

The NPS staff have been conducting an in-depth study of the historic materials used to build the walls including sandstone, limestone, and brick, as well as learning the traditional construction techniques used in the original construction of the forts. This work is a finetuned science since modern materials, such as cement, are not compatible with the original structure. Using a mixture of lime, sand, water, and crushed brick and traditional application techniques, the NPS staff have been gracious enough to take ACE corps members under their wing and teach them this invaluable skill. 

Several of ACE members have moved onto NPS positions, including the NPS staff member pictured above, Kenneth De Graciani. “That is our goal, that we will work alongside the ACE crew members, train them, and then hire them on with the National Park Service,” stated Jose Santiago. ACE is so thankful that our corps members are treated as members of the team at the San Juan National Historic Site and are continuing to gain skills and experiences through this partnership. 

Brazilian Peppertree Removal – Padre Island National Seashore

This past summer, ACE Texas – Gulf Coast worked with the National Park Service (NPS) to remove invasive Brazilian peppertree (Schinus terebinthefolia) on Padre Island National Seashore, located off the Gulf Coast of Texas. At 70 miles long, Padre Island remains the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world and boasts a rich cultural history of nomadic hunters and gatherers, Spanish shipwreck survivors and ranchers, among others.  Beginning in 1941, Padre Island was established as a Naval Air Station and aerial bombing range, serving as the largest naval pilot training facility in the world through WWII. Today, the island is both a popular tourist destination and crucial habitat for a diverse number of animals and insects, including over 380 bird species and several endangered sea turtles.

The Texas crew, directed by Crew Leader Stefan Brisita, poses in the middle of a fresh-cut stand of Brazilian peppertree before applying chemical treatment.

For this project, the ACE – Texas crew spent a few days on the main island working with NPS botanists and ecologists to search for Brazilian peppertree seedlings in areas that were once completely inundated prior to treatment. Corpsmembers formed a walking grid in order to track and eradicate any new growth of peppertree in its earliest stage. The team gridded almost 200 acres while hand pulling invasive seedlings before moving to the adjacent Pepper Island to begin chemical treatment.

Originally from South America, the Brazilian peppertree, or “Florida holly”, was favored for its ornamental flowers and pink-red berries. While beautiful, these berries cause minor to severe allergic reactions in humans and are extremely toxic to bird species. The tree’s sap can produce skin reactions similar to those associated with poison ivy in sensitive individuals and will release particle toxins into the air when burned. The tree itself is considered highly invasive due to its toxicity to native soil and plants, along with its ability to spread quickly via seed dispersion and create independent basal shoots from stumps and horizontal root.

Southwest Texas Project Manager Josh Kalman stands next to a mature stand of Brazilian peppertree.

For the Texas division’s first official backcountry project, the crew took six trips via small boat to transport all necessary gear and supplies to the work site. Members used chainsaws and herbicide to slash and treat invasive Brazilian peppertree via the cut-stump method—a selective, systemic treatment designed to kill the tree at the roots with minimal impact to the surrounding area. Cut trunks and limbs were stacked into piles to avoid further dispersion, as well as to allow for new growth of native vegetation. Over 480 work hours on Pepper Island, the crew took out just under an acre of densely-packed peppertree.

While completing work on Padre Island National Seashore, the Texas corpsmembers also had the unique opportunity to attend an official turtle release with NPS, where 11 juvenile Pacific Green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas) were released  to begin their journey into the surf. Padre Island provides safe nesting areas for all five species of sea turtles found in the Gulf of Mexico, including the endangered kemp’s ridley, hawksbill, green, and leatherback sea turtles, as well as the classified threatened loggerhead sea turtle.

A corpsmember uses gloves to carefully release a green sea turtle into the water.

 

Green turtles are transported safely in large totes before being released.

To find out more about Padre Island National Seashore’s history, nature, and activities, please visit the NPS website here.

El Yunque National Forest | Puerto Rico

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, ACE Puerto Rico has been hard at work to reopen trails in the El Yunque National Forest. To give some background, ACE Puerto Rico was established in 2015 with its first project partner at San Juan National Historic Site (NPS). The branch has now expanded its’ reach to the east side of the island. Hurricane Maria hit soon after ACE and the US Forest Service began its partnership in El Yunque and fixing the damage has been the primary focus for the ACE crew. The crew members at this branch are all Puerto Rican locals, many of whom grew up in communities surrounding the forest. 

El Yunque National Forest is the only tropical rainforest within the US national forest system and provides 10% of the water for the whole island. The forest is located in the northeastern region of the island on the slopes of the Sierra de Luquillo mountains. At 28,000 acres, it is the largest block of public land in Puerto Rico. “This forest is a powerful symbol for this community,” said crew leader Alberto Rivera, “I think for the rest of the island, the east is the Yunque.” The heavy rainfall creates a jungle-like setting with tree ferns, palms, and lush foliage as well as waterfalls and forest creatures, including the critically endangered Puerto Rican amazon parrot.

 In September of 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated many areas around the island, including El Yunque. Many of the buildings and trails in the forest that were closed for repairs have since been reopened through the efforts of the US Forest Service and the ACE crew! El Yunque is a resilient forest that has recovered tremendously on its own from the initial damage of the hurricane but continues to see the effects of the immense rainfall and high winds. These impacts include down trees, debris clogging drains along the trail and road, and damage to the facilities within the forest. 

For some of the crew members this is their first job, Rivera stated, “ACE El Yunque has given the opportunity for young adults to learn valuable life skills, connect with nature, and create a second family. We’ve had the opportunity to learn and work side by side with El Yunque’s watershed, heritage, ecosystem, operations, and public services team on different projects.” The crew is comprised of Rivera and four community members, Estefany Gonzalez, Jan Carrasquillo, Wesley Santos, and Bryan Carrasquillo, who recently began employment with the US Forest Service. Over the last year, the crew has repainted the Yokahu Tower, performed trail maintenance on 13 miles of trail and helped open over six different trails, logged out over 70 trees, maintained forest roads and facilities, and assisted with volunteer groups. It’s safe to say that it has been a very busy and productive first year for this crew. ACE is so proud to be a part of El Yunque’s recovery and continued grandeur.

 

https://www.fs.usda.gov/elyunque/

Conducting an Annual Inventory

By Juan Davila

In this past week, we have worked solely on the Annual inventory of CHAM. Our team leader, Mark Calamia, asked for the help of Rodney Souter a conservator in Chamizal to help us on the process and teach us along the way. After a meeting and being briefed on what encompasses an Annual inventory and the 3 parts that separate the workload. The Annual Inventory is done every year, although I was told before it was done every 3 years in the NPS. It consists of three lists: Controlled Items,
Randomized Items and Accessioned items.

Once we had been briefed and given a reminder for how to handle and take care of the possible items we would find, we headed over to the vault and moved out all the big objects so that we could walk with ease. Along with my team, we prepared our cotton gloves and started to look for the items.  Controlled inventory was fast, since ICMS picked only paintings, and they were easy to find in the racks.

The randomized inventory was a whole other adventure that took us two days to complete. The items were stored in several locations and somewhere on the warehouse that I had mentioned in my previous blog. My team was very grateful that we had taken time in the summer to organize the warehouse because if not the random object would have been an even bigger task. We found many interesting objects, including a ring from U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson. LBJ’s daughter gifted the ring to Chamizal because she felt it would honor her father and wanted it to be exposed in an exhibit of the Memorial. I also found correspondence between U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Mexican President Lopez Mateos concerning the treaty of Chamizal and the conversation that followed between Lopez Mateos and Lyndon B. Johnson after Kennedy’s assassination.

Figure 1: Working with my team at CHAM

After we finished the randomized  items list, we passed over to the non-accessioned items. This list was a headache because they had been wrongfully registered in the past. Instead of archival collections, each page or flyer was cataloged as its own item. To make it worst most items had inconsistent descriptions and we discovered many had the description of a different object. Most of the items were flyers or pamphlets from recitals or pianos. I got to see several flyers from the early 60’s promoting black face plays. This was shocking to me, I had read and seen them in class but once I saw the art in the posters, I could comprehend how atrocious those plays were. This week was a great learning experience. I gained valuable skills and knowledge from my peers and had a lot of fun finding objects in the vault.  I never expected I would find random pamphlets and signed documents from presidents.

Figure 2: Discovering Pamphlets and Documents from Signed Presidents

Discovering Women’s Suffrage Specific to Missouri

By Elizabeth Eikmann

Weeks 2 and 3 were filled with visits to the archive, with a few more visits to the archive, and ending with a visit to the archive! I spent the majority of the past few weeks diving into women’s suffrage related ephemera–images, objects, and papers.

My first archive visit was to the Missouri History Museum Library and Research Center. The building was constructed in 1926 and was home to one of the largest Jewish synagogues in the nation for 62 years. In 1989, MHS purchased the building, renovating it to house their collections and archives. For more on the history of the building and to see a selection of historic images visit their website here.

Here are some images of the building I took while researching there:

Figure 1: Missouri History Museum Library

Figure: Beautiful Ceiling of Missouri History Museum Library

While at the Missouri History Museum Library and Research center, I explored the papers of the Couzin’s family–a nineteenth century St. Louis family with multiple family women involved in local and national suffrage activities. I reviewed the Civil War Claims books of Francis Minor, husband of suffragist Virginia Minor. I also sifted through what seems like hundreds of letters, pamphlets, and images related to suffrage.

Figure 3: Exploring the Papers of the Couzin’s family

Figure 4: St. Louis Public Library

Next I visited the St. Louis Public Library Central Branch, the first public library built in the city in 1865. The original building still houses the library and all of its archival collections. Though small, their women’s suffrage newspaper clippings and ephemera proved to be a mighty selection with some wonderful references and resources.

 

Here is a bird’s eye view of just a fraction of everything I uncovered the past two weeks:

Figure 5: Image of images!

Figure 6: Just a fraction of what I uncovered at the Library

…Now, back to work!

Figure 7: My work space

 

 

 

 

 

Minute Man National Historic Park Blog Post #3

By Allison Hillman

 

July 7th-13th 

This work week was full of Junior Ranger initiations, Parker’s Revenge tours, and North Bridge talks.

Junior Rangers, July 7th 

I mentioned in the last blog post that I get to swear in Junior Rangers and help them complete their activity books, and this week was no different. I got to help these adorable siblings aged four and six years old complete their activity books. The little girl insisted on calling me “teacher” and refused to let anybody but me help her, which was really sweet. This photo was taken by my supervisor who posted it on the official Minute Man Facebook page. If you can’t tell from my hair, it was very humid that day. The siblings got their badges and clutched their Junior Ranger certificates as they were leaving, and the little girl contemplated where she would hide it so that nobody would steal it from her.

Figure 1: Swearing in the Sweetest Junior Rangers!

Parker’s Revenge Talk, July 12th 

One of my duties as an intern ranger here is to give tours of the Parker’s Revenge archaeological site. A few years ago, a team of archaeologists came to Minute Man and excavated a site where it was speculated that a group of Minute Men ambushed the retreating British army. This talk is about thirty minutes and I get to take people on a short walk to the site itself. We have the thirty-two musket balls excavated from the site on display in the Minute Man Visitor’s Center. This talk pictured below was attended by over forty people which was by far the largest crowd I’ve had. We had people from California as far as Spain on this talk, which is part of the reason why I love this job so much. It is a delight to talk to these people and get their perspective on the history.

Figure 2: Guiding Tours on the Parker’s Revenge Archaeological Site

North Bridge Talk, July 13th 

I gave a few talks at the North Bridge in Concord where the “shot heard round the world” was fired. It is a twenty minute talk that details the events that took place at the bridge on April 19, 1775. The talk pictured here was attended by about fifteen people who were very interested in the history. This is the site where the colonists were ordered to fire against their own British army for the very first time, committing treason, and officially starting the Revolutionary War. This was the second talk I gave here at the bridge and I was very pleased with how it went.

Figure 3: Giving a Talk About “The Shot Heard ‘Round the World”.

Cleaning Up and Moving Forward

By Anna Tiburzi

Another couple weeks have come and gone and I’ve been working near exclusively on model development. I’m going to go into a bit of what I’ve been focused on recently and, for those of you unfamiliar with SketchUp, I’ll describe a few of the tools and methods I’ve used.

One of the biggest challenges this past week has been cleaning up the meshes which I generated a couple weeks ago. These meshes act as the terrain for each model and are created from the existing contour information and layers from the CAD files for each of the six models. These contours can be brought into SketchUp from CAD and using the “From Contours” tool in the Sandbox Toolbar, can be turned into landforms.

 

Figure 1: The 1952 model before and after the mesh generation

While the meshes were informative and smoothed out much of the terrain, there were several areas in each model that had inconsistencies or generated incorrectly. Walkways were bumpy when they should be smooth, edges where the seawalls are were all over the place – anywhere where planar geometry was supposed to be (walls, stairs, etc.) didn’t quite generate accurately.

Figure 2: Errors in the mesh generation at the sea wall, before and after (1952 model)

I tried a couple different methods to smooth them out, but as tends to be the case, the hard way proved the most effective method – entering the terrain mesh groups and going in by hand to clean them up. Terrains generated in SketchUp result in a mesh “group” which you can enter and alter from inside without compromising the rest of the model.  Once inside, I erased incorrect connections and generated smaller terrain meshes in certain areas to patch them back up. There’s a certain amount of satisfaction when you fix up a mesh and see it fall back into place cleanly. I also started putting in some of that missing planar geometry, though there’s still a ways to go on that front, especially with the seawall.

Figure 3: Errors in the mesh generation are often associated with intersecting planar geometry such as stairs (top) and walls along paths (bottom). Here I’ve addressed the issues and resolved the geometry.

Now that the meshes are good to go, the next task I wanted to tackle was pathways. Going back to the CAD files once again for each model, I isolated the path information that I wanted and erased any extra data that wouldn’t be helpful and saved them each as new CAD files to be imported into the models. Like meshes, CAD files come in as a group. Using the “drape” tool, these lines can be dropped onto the new terrain mesh. This will make it possible later to add colors and textures to certain areas to separate out where different materials will go.

Figure 4: An axonometric of the 1952 model showing the model base (bottom), the terrain mesh with materials added (middle), and paths layer that was draped onto the mesh (top).

Unfortunately, not all of the paths draped successfully. This happens sometimes, it just means that the paths weren’t quite connected at all their corners and intersections. That’s easy enough to clean up – either redrawing lines with “hidden geometry” turned on (which makes it possible to see all the triangular planes that make up a mesh surface) or by drawing new lines and draping those down onto the mesh to connect back up all the gaps. Once they’re all connected up, materials (colors and textures) can be added to differentiate the surfaces.

Figure 5: Sometimes the lines that make up the paths aren’t quite connected at all their intersections, causing selections to be inaccurate. By closing the gaps, areas are separated and ready for material and texture fills.

I haven’t finished putting the meshes and materials together completely for each model, but they’re all well underway. While the before and after from two weeks ago to today may not look drastically different for each model, the time put in to clean them up and apply materials will make it much easier later on for when they’re brought into another program for further rendering.

Figure 6: Before and after of the 1937 model (top) and the 1952 model (bottom).

Finally, the last little bit I’ve been working on are building treatments. The buildings in the models aren’t very detailed and with a little work here and there they could be made more convincing. To get each one perfectly accurate however, would require a fair amount of legwork and time. Another option is to create general building “treatments” which could be applied quickly, relatively speaking, to the buildings. Going back through the historical photos, I’ve found general styles and ideas that could be added. Treatment options right now are focused on roofs, window style, and chimneys. Deciding what treatments we’re going to move forward with hasn’t been finalized or discussed yet – I’ll be working on that with my mentor, Professor Aidan Ackerman (at SUNY ESF), and the folks at NPS – but I’ve been collecting and creating some options that can be picked from or mixed and matched to keep the character of the buildings during each time period.

 

Figure 7: Examples of buildings from the historical photos and conceptual treatments to be further developed and applied at a later date.

There’s more to be done before the models are ready for rendering, but they’re coming along. Some days and tasks prove more challenging than others, but there’s a lot to be learned from them, both about my own skills and the nuances of the programs that I’m using. For now, I’ll keep moving the models along and getting them ready for the next stage.

 

Stay tuned!