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ACEbook Monthly Newsletter - 2016 Edition - Volume 2 
brought to you by American Conservation Experience
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Welcome to ACEbook.
"Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results."
- Andrew Carnegie
 
Announcing ACE
Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) 
2016
In 2015, ACE's Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) programs educated, engaged and employed high school youth in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and at Navajo National Monument.
In 2016, ACE is excited to continue and expand its Youth Conservation Corps programs to further connect youth (ages 16-19) to careers in conservation and public service through hands-on learning and work experience. ACE YCC members participate on a variety of projects under the leadership of trained ACE Crew Leaders such as trail construction and maintenance, fence and bench building, exotic plant management, habitat restoration, and wildlife surveying. ACE YCC programs are challenging, educational, fun and offers youth participants opportunities to expand their horizons while building skills that will benefit them for a lifetime.  To learn more about the ACE YCC Program, please contact Hannah Wendel, ACE Director of Youth Programming at hwendel@usaconservation.org 
Project Showcase & Updates:
Highlights from our ACE locations
Arizona
Yarnell Trail Project
Yarnell, Arizona

 
On January 27th, ACE crews began work on a precipitous hillside just outside of Yarnell, Arizona, to build a trail that upon completion will stretch 2.5 miles across the rocky landscape. The project is huge in scope—3 crews of 8 members will be working diligently alongside numerous crew leaders, staff members, and state parks employees for the next few months to complete their goal. However, there is another aspect of the project that gives it much greater significance. The 320-acre swath of land that includes the trail will soon become the Granite Mountain Hotshot Memorial State Park, to commemorate the 19 hotshot firefighters who lost their lives while battling the 800-acre Yarnell Hill fire on the morning of June 30th, 2013.

The trail initially traverses a very steep slope, and once crossing the ridge, descends into a boulder field with an overlook that will allow visitors to view the fatality site. They will also be able to descend further into the actual area where the firefighters lost their lives. The rocky and harsh landscape means that the building of the trail is highly technical, and crews are using a variety of hand tools, power tools, and griphoist rigging equipment to remove large rocks from the path of the trail and build sturdy, safe staircases to make the ascension easier for hikers. This is a big undertaking, but ACE has tackled many large-scale projects in challenging environments with tight timeframes. However, the Yarnell trail is unique because of its emotional factor. “Every project in ACE matters, but we’re not just approaching this one from a conservation point of view like we normally do,” explained Project Field Coordinator Jack McMullin. “It also has this heavy human aspect. The community has been so supportive of our work. We visited a museum last hitch because we were rained out of work one day, and speaking to the people who worked there about the fire and the work we are doing was a really amazing experience. One man who talked to us was almost in tears. It’s that emotional.”

On Wednesday the 17th, crews were nearing completion of the first .42-mile section of the trail up to the ridge line. “Once we cross the ridge line, it’s boulder city. There are massive rocks everywhere. It’s going to be awesome, and so technical. The way the trail is situated is great, because this first half mile has given everyone time to get used to rock work and get some practice in, and then once we get over the hill they’ll have to really put their skills to the test,” said McMullen.

When creating trails, ACE strives to make sustainable routes that provide a corridor for the public to safely enjoy the beauty of nature, in turn protecting the landscape itself. “We’re still focusing on those goals with this project,” Trails Coordinator Mark Loseth affirmed, “and we’ve done bigger projects than this logistically. But the product of our work here will be a dedication to the 19 men who lost their lives in the Yarnell Hill Fire. So when you think about it in that respect, it’s the biggest project that I’ve undertaken with ACE.”
ACE will continue it's coverage of the progress at Yarnell. 
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California
Little Harbor Campground Enhancement Planting Project
Catalina Island Conservancy 

    Little Harbor campground located on Catalina Island is a highly trafficked interior destination with unique character. Tree planting dating back to the 1930s has created a naturalized community of palms and other trees including Spanish sycamore. Recent campground enhancements include thinning of existing palms, which has improved safety and usability of the area, though California’s drought has led to the decline of existing sycamores on the island. Additional user impacts such as driving off roads have degraded adjacent habitats. The project proposal includes planting of native toyon and cottonwood to address need for shade trees, define campsite areas and deter off road driving. 

    The character of Little Harbor on Catalina Island is defined in part by Canary Island palms and Mexican fan palms, some that may have been planted in the 1930’s for the set of the film Mutiny on the Bounty (1935). Today, exotic palms and other species have naturalized and provide shade and shelter to many campsites on Catalina Island. Other shade trees, particularly non-native sycamore, have been less successful, likely due to ongoing drought. In line with its mission to balance conservation, education and recreation on Catalina, the Catalina Island Conservancy has identified native species as preferable to invasive or naturalizing species for shade and shelter planting. This project uses native black cottonwood in low lying (wetter) areas and toyon on upland (drier) sites. 

    Members of American Conservation Experience installed trees produced at the James A. Acherman Nursery on Catalina Island. The ACE crew was stationed at Laura Stein Volunteer Camp for the duration of the 5-week project.  Using primarily hand tools and a gas powered auger, the crew was able to plant 558 trees. Trees were sited in observance of guidelines of the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
 
ACE’s accomplishments  on this project include: 
Exotics pulled: Pampas Grass – 9 plants, 200Ft²
Trees planted:
Toyon: 31
Cottonwood: 14
Island Oak: 39
Other unknown species: 474
Total trees planted: 558
Utah
Keeping on track…
fencing a trail, protecting a species.

Bear Claw Poppy Trail - St. George, Utah
 
Crews from the Utah branch completed the final phase of a fencing and restoration project this month that began in January of 2015.  The crew’s work became the physical embodiment of balancing ecological restoration with high intensity recreation.  
The Bear Claw Poppy trail is one of the most popular mountain bike trails in the St. George area.  This trail is only a few minutes from downtown St. George and provides a variety of terrain to excite the novice and test the expert mountain biker.  It has become a known as a quick and exciting ride for locals and tourists alike.  This trail gets its name from a perennial herb called the Dwarf Bearclaw Poppy (Arctomecon Humilis).  This plant is only found in one place in the world, a small valley south of St. George, Utah.  The Bearclaw poppy is a federally listed endangered species; only a handful of small populations of the plant exist.

The Bear Claw Poppy Trail runs through much of the small valley where the Bear Claw Poppy inhabits, making the heavy use of the trail a concern for this endangered species.  The BLM worked with the US Fish and Wildlife Service to create a plan that would both allow for recreationalists to use the trail while protecting and enhancing the habitat for Bearclaw Poppy plants.  
The sensitive nature of the area negated the use of mechanical equipment to fulfill the plan, so ACE was brought into the project to bring the plan to life. The crews were brought in to carry fence posts and rails along the existing trails and construct fencing to keep trail users from leaving the trail and damaging the Bearclaw Poppy habitat.  This effort was complemented by crews de-compacting existing social trails that negatively impacted Bearclaw Poppy habitat.  By the close of the project, crews had installed over 3,500 linear feet of fence and de-compacted over 4.5 miles of social trails. The final result is a project that helps facilitate recreation while still protecting the critical habitat of an endangered species.  

Please see the BLM’s website to read more and watch a great video produced by the BLM:
http://mypubliclands.tumblr.com/post/134793104112/measures-to-preserve-endangered-species-saves
 
Puerto Rico
ACE Puerto Rico Conservation Corps (PRCC) has been busy building trails, and improving the existing trails, at San Juan National Historic Site. They have created several lookout areas as well as armored drains to prevent erosion. The crew has been learning quickly under the guidance of ACE Crew Leaders, Russ Lloyd and Maggie Hartney. The crew also built smaller replica walls of those originally built by the Spanish inhabitants over 400 years ago. 
North Carolina
Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy Project 
Hickory Nut Gorge 
 
In the month of February, ACE began a new partnership with the Trails Program at Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy. CMLC operates a network of trails that crisscrosses the 14 mile long Hickory Nut Gorge and many of them need frequent maintenance to keep up with the volume of hiking in the area. ACE braved the winter temperatures and worked to rehabilitate a mile of the Marion Trail and constructed 1,000’ of new trail on the Bearwallow Trail during the month. The new partnership between ACE and CMLC has already begun to benefit the hiking community of western North Carolina and ACE is excited to continue working in the Hickory Nut Gorge in 2016.
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Emerging Professional Internship Corps
EPIC - #IamACE
 I am ACE - Cristobal Castaneda
 
Our corps members and interns come from culturally diverse backgrounds across the United States and each has a unique story to tell. Common to all is a passion for our natural environment, and a desire to develop into a future land steward.

In our continued series #IamACE we introduce you to Cristobal Castaneda and ACE EPIC intern currently serving the National Park Service at the John Muir Historic Site in Martinez, California.

Read Cristobal's story here: 
http://www.usaconservation.org/iamace-cristobal-castaneda/

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For more information on ACEbook
Contact Director of Communications, Susie Jardine
susie @usaconservation.org
2900 N. Fort Valley Rd. Flagstaff, AZ 86001

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