This past fall, ACE Pacific West South worked in Alpine, CA removing invasive plants and performing fuels reduction as a part of an ongoing 30-year restoration project managed by the Back Country Land Trust (BCLT). The ACE crew worked on removing four acres of the giant reed (Arundo donax). BCLT’s goal is to remove six acres of Arundo in riparian habitats over the next several years.
Arundo is native to eastern Asia, but can now be found globally. In the 1820s, it was introduced to Los Angeles as a roofing material and erosion control in drainage canals but has since escaped and become overgrown. It is one of the fastest growing terrestrial plants, growing as much as 10cm a day. Arundo is not only rapidly spreading but it is also highly flammable, making it a priority for removal as wildfires become more prevalent in the west. It also impacts freshwater sources and water tables, as it has been documented to use 300% more water than native plants in similar habitats.
Ultimately, this project will protect the San Diego watershed through invasive species removal, fuels reduction, and trash clean up. The work is ten years in, with five years to go and is then projected to be monitored for another twenty years. Secondary work completed by the crew included the removal of other known invasive plants, planting of native species in treated areas and the collection and removal of trash found at the worksites. ACE is proud to be a part of this important project with the BCLT!
At the start of this summer, eight Tahoe based corps members packed up their tents and tools and hiked into the backcountry of the Inyo National Forest, California. The Inyo encompasses sections of the eastern Sierra Nevada and the White Mountains of California and Nevada as well as Mount Whitney, the highest point in the continental US.
This ongoing project will continue for four months this year on the Lamarck Lakes Trail. The trail ends at the 13,000′ Lamarck Col and is the most popular access for climbers accessing the Evolution Range, which is a world famous climbing destination for alpinists. As a result of its growing popularity and harsh winters, the trail requires extensive rockwork and maintenance which began in 2017 and is continuing this season through October 2018.
Working in the backcountry and in the John Muir Wilderness requires a particular sensitivity. The work being done will be accomplished with primitive tools and traditional skills. The crew will be rock bars, double jacks, and other basic trail work tools to achieve the project goals. Pack mules have been integral in being able to complete this project by packing up tools, food and other supplies for the crew throughout the summer.
Overall the goal is to improve trail safety for hikers and equestrians, including water bar repairs and maintenance, tread stabilization, step and check dam repairs, stream channel debris removal, and retaining wall stabilization. Short reroutes and restoration of the abandoned trails will also be completed. The crew experienced some setbacks this summer from two weeks of severe thunderstorms which caused a landslide that washed out the trailhead.
ACE Pacific West is laying a strong foundation for this ongoing project. This partnership with the US Forest Service has instilled skills and values within the ACE crew members and ACE is excited to see the progression of this project.