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Lime Kiln Trail – Sedona, Arizona


During the week of January 11th, 2017, an ACE Arizona crew began trail maintenance on the Lime Kiln Trail in Dead Horse Ranch State Park. This 15 mile trail connects Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood to Red Rock State Park in Sedona. This historic trail was once used by horse drawn wagons to transport local produce, wine and bricks between communities in the Verde Valley.

 Jimmy Gregson, ACE Conservation Trainer and Coordinator, teaches new crew members about building sustainable trails.

Jimmy Gregson, ACE Conservation Trainer and Coordinator, teaches new crew members about building sustainable trails.

Today the trail is use by mountain bikers, equestrians and hikers looking to get out and enjoy the valley’s landscapes and travel along parts of the historic wagon road. In celebration of the US Forest Service’s 100th birthday in 2005 the trail was listed as a Centennial Trail. The ACE crew worked closely with the US Forest Service on this project.


ACE crew worked closely with the US Forest Service Crew.

This project was a first for most of our corps members who just began with ACE at the start of the year. This team was led by Senior Crew Leader John Donovan. The crew was taken on a threatened species walk with the US Forest Service’s Wildlife Biologist and were shown Hohokam agave, Tonto Basin agave, heath leaf wild buckwheat, hualapai milkwort, ripely buckwheat, Arizona cliffrose and Verde Valley sage so that they could avoid damaging these plants during trail work.

ACE crew being taught by US Forest Service's Wildlife Biologist about the threatened plants along the Lime Kiln Trail.

ACE crew being taught by US Forest Service’s Wildlife Biologist about the threatened plants along the Lime Kiln Trail.

This is the third project in the Redrocks region and ACE plans to continue sending crews to the area until March. The crews will be maintaining the trail while preserving the threatened plant species and the historic rock walls throughout the trail.

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.


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.


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.”


Bark Beetle Pheromone Installation | Apache-Sitgreaves NF

Two ACE crews are currently working on a project to protect Douglas-fir trees from Bark Beetle infestations in the Apache- Sitgreaves National Forest. The crew’s mission is to install pheromone bubble capsules to large Douglas-fir trees in campgrounds and recreation areas in the Alpine and Springerville Ranger Districts – areas affected by The Wallow Fire, a wildfire in eastern Arizona and western New Mexico that occurred in 2011.


Preparing the MCH pheromone bubble capsules for installation

The MCH pheromone is a naturally occurring anti-aggregation pheromone of the Douglas-fir & Spruce beetles. MCH works by replicating the beetle pheromone that tells other beetles the tree is full and that the food supply is insufficient for additional beetles. Arriving beetles receive the ‘message’ that they should look elsewhere for a suitable host, thus preventing beetle infestations. The approach is environmentally safe and non-toxic to humans, pets, birds and even the beetles themselves.


Tree identification

In past years the crews have used the grid treatment, creating a pheromone buffer around valued sites. This year the crew has switched methods to individual tree treatment.


MCH capsule installation

Prior to starting the project, Corps Members completed a full week of training with Forest Service staff covering tree identification, compass and GPS use, pacing, tree Diameter at Breast Height (DBH), and proper capsule installation. Due to the complexity of the project crew members have learned how to fill out paperwork which captures the data for this project​.


Feedback from the project has been extremely positive. Corps Members said that they have really enjoyed the project and all the technical skills that they have learned. They enjoy working with our project partner Monica Boehning, and appreciate her passion for the project. The crew has also enjoyed the amazing camping at Big Lake Campground and East Fork.

Upper Raptor Trail, Red Rock Ranger District, Coconino NF

Recently, ACE caught up with one of our crews in the field working on multiple reroutes of the Upper Raptor trail in the Red Rock Ranger District of Coconino National Forest. ACE partnered with the USFS for this project. There are area total of 12 reroutes planned for different areas of the Upper Raptor trail, in order to re-direct visitors from unsustainable and eroded sections. The path is primarily intended for mountain bikers, but it is also useable by hikers and equestrians.


“The project is going well so far!” Said corps member Emma Nehan. “Since the trail is meant for mountain biking, the project partner wants it to be very narrow. The soil is really sandy and easy to move, so it’s not as physically demanding as some other projects. But mentally it’s challenging because we’re going against everything we’ve been taught so far about trial building. We even used a broom to create parts of the trail!”


The method for creating these reroutes differs from traditional trail construction because of the soil type in the area. In certain sections, the crew used a push broom to establish the tread. “On all the trails we create in the Southwest, our goal is to make the most minimal impact possible,” explained Jordan Rolfe, director of ACE Arizona. “Sometimes using a pick or shovel to dig out a trial isn’t necessary, because it will take out too much dirt and turn the trail into a water chute when it rains. In some cases we want to visually create the presence of a trail, but don’t want to move a lot of dirt if it’s not necessary, so we use brooms. This is a newer technique that we are implementing with our trail building.”


However, more physical labor is required in different areas. The crew is also armoring sections of the trail, creating drains and retaining walls, and brushing the corridor. Another step in the process of rerouting the trail is naturalizing the old path. By doing this, the corps members help return the initial route to its original state and prevent bikers, hikers, and equestrians from accidentally using a potentially unsafe portion of trail.


The project will span six four-day hitches throughout the spring. The Upper Raptor Trail is accessible from Dead Horse Ranch State Park in Cottonwood, Arizona.

Ranch Trail, Prescott National Forest

Yesterday, a crew began a project in Prescott National Forest brushing the corridor for a re-route of the Ranch Trail, which lies just 20 minutes outside of Prescott. ACE partnered with USFS for this project. The original trail alignment runs along a ridge and drops down in several areas in an un-sustainable fashion, and because of the steepness, normal drains cannot be installed–thus the need for the reroute.


After the crews clear the corridor, Forest Service employees will then follow with a trail dozer to cut the tread. The plan for this 8 day hitch is to complete 3 miles of clearing, establishing a corridor 6 to 8 feet wide. The work involves multiple sawyers cutting scrub oak and other vegetation that is growing in the path of the proposed trail, and then several corps members following behind and moving the slash (cut vegetation) off trail and out of sight.


The creation of this reroute will ensure that the trail is sustainable and can be used by the public for years to come.


Trail Maintenance in Prescott National Forest, AZ

ACE Arizona crews recently completed a trail project in Prescott National Forest. The project involved annual light maintenance of several high volume, multi-use trails located on the outskirts of Prescott, in an area known as the Prescott Basin.


Crews focused on brushing — opening the trail corridor to 6 ft wide and 10 ft tall, and clearing out existing drains. “In a few spots we also installed features to make the trail more sustainable,” explained crew leader Jimmy Gregson. “We put in an armored drain pan and a retaining wall, and created a few new drains along the trails as well.”


The two crews completed 20.7 miles of maintenance during the project. Each crew was provided with a ranked list of 7 priority areas to work in, and they therefore used maps of the area to plan their time effectively.


The highest priorities for both crews were sections of the popular Prescott Circle Trail, which circumnavigates the city and lies on lands managed by the City of Prescott, Prescott National Forest, and Arizona State Land Department. Since ACE partnered with the US Forest Service for this project, they worked on sections of the trails that were within the Prescott National Forest boundary.


A majority of the work was completed within the Thumb Butte and Granite Mountain areas. “I’ve never done any work like this before,” said Kaitlin Eagan, an ACE corps member of two months. “It feels great to use my body for hard work that really means a lot.”


The crews efforts will ensure that the trails can be safely used by hikers, bikers, and equestrians so they can access the gorgeous scenery that is available to them just outside of town.

Zephyr Cove Boardwalk & Fallen Leaf Lake Projects – Lake Tahoe, California

ACE is in the business of amazing locations. Day in, day out, our crews are at work in some of the most stunning locations in the United States. But we are also fortunate in that our regional offices are located in amazing locations, too. Take our Lake Tahoe branch in California. Here, our lucky corps members get to live and work at one of the most beautiful lakes in the country. We are proud that our crews are able to partner with agencies such as the Forest Service and National Park Service close to Lake Tahoe, and work to restore and maintain the beauty of the surrounding area. And when our crews are not working, Lake Tahoe is an outdoor enthusiast’s playground and a prime vacation destination.

ACE crews measuring and constructing the boardwalk at Zephyr Cove

ACE crews measuring and constructing the boardwalk at Zephyr Cove

In addition to working on the Mount Tallac Trail and the Kingsbury Stinger Trail, projects that we have featured on our blog this week, ACE California crews based out of Lake Tahoe have also spent the summer completing two projects that focused on protecting the gorgeous meadows around Lake Tahoe. One project was the construction of a boardwalk near Zephyr Cove that will be part of a bike path providing access to the eastern shore of the lake. The other project was helping with the construction of a causeway near Fallen Leaf Lake that will reduce the damage to a meadow from high equestrian use.

Corps members work to clear the Fallen Leaf Lake Causeway

Corps members work to clear the Fallen Leaf Lake Causeway

ACE California would like to thank the many corps members who participated in projects in the Lake Tahoe region this summer.

Grad pic_web

Kingsbury Stinger Trail – Lake Tahoe, California

ACE is partnering with the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU), in Douglas County, Nevada, in the southeast portion of the Lake Tahoe Basin. Here, ACE California crews have been rerouting the Kingsbury Stinger Trail, a challenging OHV (off highway vehicle) and mountain bike trail, known locally as the “Stinger Trail”.

ACE California crews begin construction of the Stinger Trail

ACE California crews begin construction of the Stinger Trail

Although the Stinger Project, like the Mount Tallac Trail, involved a reroute, that is where the similarity ends. Instead of a 12-16″ wide wilderness trail, the Kingsbury Stinger Trail is 50″ wide and designed for motorcycles, ATV’s and mountain bikes. Consequently, ACE crews have adopted a different approach, skill set, and attitude.

Corps members drilled through large rocks in order to move them from the trail.

Corps members drilled through large rocks in order to move them from the trail.

The crew has used highline rigging and power drills in to maneuver the massive boulders required to create a sustainable, yet fun and challenging trail, which flows down Kingsbury Grade to Lake Tahoe. As they build, the crew need to remain mindful of the eventual users of the trail; mountain bikers and ATV users. These trail users will travel a lot quicker than hikers, and therefore the trail must be safe to travel yet still be enjoyable.

In order to move such large boulders, the crew used the grip hoist

In order to move such large boulders, the crew used the grip hoist

While the existing trail provided plenty of challenges, it also was built along the fall-line and as a consequence had become severely eroded. The Stinger Trail realignment will bring the trail further away from drainage’s, and contour along ridge lines, using the topography to provide a more sustainable and environmentally-friendly trail.

Over-sized tree stumps were removed by hand using pulaskis

Over-sized tree stumps were removed by hand using pulaskis

ACE California crews will be back to work, finishing The Stinger Trail, during the summer of 2016.

Arizona Trail Association Seeds of Stewardship

ACE staff and Corps Members recently attended a local community service project in Flagstaff, where they partnered with the Arizona Trails Association and the Coconino National Forest to teach a large group of 75 students from the local Mount Elden Middle School about the importance of trail work.

ACE were awarded a plaque recognizing their exceptional commitment to the community and continued support of the Coconino National Forest Trails Program

ACE were awarded a plaque recognizing their exceptional commitment to the community and continued support of the Coconino National Forest Trails Program

The students arrived in the morning and gathered at the Little Elden trail head for an introduction from Coconino National Forest’s Trails and Wilderness Coordinator Sean Murphy. At this time, ACE was presented with a plaque recognizing our exceptional commitment to the community and continued support of the Coconino National Forest Trails Program. Sean also conducted a safety briefing, and demonstrated the tools that the students would be using which included Mcleods, shovels, and pick mattocks.

Tools in hand, the students hike to work led by an ACE leader

Tools in hand, the students hike to work led by an ACE leader

Th​e ​students were split up into groups of four and assigned a leader, either an ACE​ Corps Member or an Arizona Trail Steward. The groups began digging drains and check dams to direct the flow of rainwater off the trail and to make it more sustainable. “It’s important to get kids invested in the structures that they use for fun, and to teach them that trails don’t just happen–it takes a lot of hard work,” said Sean Murphy. “They will feel a little more ownership for the trails they use after this project.” The students spent a half day (about 4 hours including a lunch break) at the Little Elden Trail, alternating between working and participating in educational hikes in the area.

A.J. Conrad demonstrates techniques to the students

A.J. Conrad demonstrates techniques to the students

The event was part of the Arizona Trail Association’s Seeds of Stewardship initiative, a youth outreach, education, and stewardship program that aims to encourage youth participation in the Arizona Trail through experience, education, and service learning. “I think it’s important for younger people like myself and other ACE Corps Member to help teach these kids because we can relate to them and connect with them on a more personal level,” explained Gavin Monson, ACE Crew Leader. “I think it’s crucial to instill these conservation goals in the minds of these children. They’ll be in charge someday. If we can show them that this kind of work is important, we can help make a difference for the future.”

Students learn about tool use

Students learn about tool use

The students were enthusiastic about the work, and it was evident that they truly cared about the impression they were making on the land. “I like this kind of work because I like being outdoors,” said student Corbin Cuff. “I think it’s important because we can help the environment.” Corbin went on to explain that he would certainly be interested in doing more trail work in his future. It has been said that we will conserve only what we love, and we love only what we understand.

Everyone at ACE thoroughly enjoyed the event and we hope to participate in future events.

Mount Tallac Trail Project – Lake Tahoe, California

It has been another successful summer in the Lake Tahoe Basin for ACE California. This marks the sixth summer that our crews have been working in partnership with the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, which commenced in 2009. This relationship was nationally recognized at the American Trails Conference in May, where both ACE and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit received the Partnership Award. This year, the corps members have been eager to continue in the footsteps of the corps members that have come before them.

This year’s projects focused on two major trail re-routes in the Tahoe Basin, initiated to mitigate negative environmental impacts and improve the user experience. One of these projects was the iconic Mount Tallac Trail.


Tahoe tallac reroute

For four summers, ACE corps members have worked tirelessly to improve this hugely popular Mount Tallac Trail. Under the leadership of Ryan Kuehn, the ACE crew spent the summer camping in the back country of the Desolation Wilderness, building a 3,600ft long re-route. This has realigned the trail onto a more south-facing aspect of the mountain to ensure that the snow will melt in advance of the busy summer season. Additionally, the new trail crosses through a talus field, providing a more sustainable path than that of the old trail, which traversed fragile alpine vegetation and was severely eroded. The crew moved over 15,000 cubic feet of rock during the construction phase of this trail, which is equal to over 1,260 tons or 2.5 million pounds of rock!

As this trail is within a designated wilderness boundary, all work was completed using rock bars or by hand. After the completion of the new trail it was opened to the public and the crew turned their attention to decommissioning and restoring the route of the old trail.

EPIC Intern Nick Steel

This past week we met up with ACE EPIC intern Nick Steel on the final day of his four-month internship as a biological science technician.

Originally from Rockland County, just outside of New York City, Nick was in for a bit of a shock relocating to the relatively remote Mogollon Rim Ranger District in Northern Arizona. “It’s just me and one other staff member doing this work,” Nick explained. “We treated 195 acres this summer, which included hand spraying, the use of backpack sprayers, and bio control treatments.”

Nick backpack sprayer

Nick packs away a backpack herbicide sprayer which has been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized for the end of the season

The internship centered on the mitigation and control of invasive species in the area, and Nick’s time was split between working in the field to remove and treat the different plants, and working in the office contributing to a database of invasive species that can be accessed by all USFS employees. “It’s a good balance. I like having the two different types of work to alternate between.” The position relied heavily on plant identification, and Nick had to be able to differentiate between the native flora and the invasive ones that are problem-causers in the area, such as buffelgrass, cheatgrass, and scotch thistle.

Nick explains about the database he contributes to, showing the map that lists the locations of the invasive species in the area.

Nick explains about the database he contributes to, showing the map that lists the locations of the invasive species in the area.

Nick went on to explain; “Through my internship with ACE I got a lot of certifications—wilderness first aid, blood borne pathogens, S212 wild land fire chain saw, and pesticide handler. These make my resume stronger and increase my chances in the job market.” As part of this position, Nick had to complete a certain amount of volunteer service hours. He chose to volunteer with the recreation crew, fire prevention patrol, and timber sales, and developed an interest in wildfire ecology that he hadn’t considered previously. “I don’t think I would have been able to get this experience anywhere else. I’m really happy I came to work here,” Nick remarked, “My internship shined a light onto different jobs I would have never have thought of before.”

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!