The Team has returned from corps member training at the McCall Outdoor Science School (MOSS) in McCall, ID. Trainings included: Wilderness First Aid (WFA), SCA's: Mission / Program Overview / Risk Management Protocols, Conservation Ethics, Fire Ecology, Tree Measurements, Plant Identification, Navigation, GPS, FIREMON & FFI Database.
The Team is now enjoying some much needed time off and preparing for more training, this time with our Agency Partners, in Wayne National Forest. Topics on the schedule include: Local Fire Ecology, Local Field Sampling Techniques, Vegetation, Cultural Awareness, and USFS Radio Protocols.
Like Greensboro’s many black snakes who sun themselves in its 95-degree afternoons, the Community Wildfire Protection Plan team has been lying low and soaking up the ambiance this month in the Randolph County Fire District.
After returning from Corps training in McCall, Idaho, the CWPP team completed a week of training under their agency partner James Rogers of North Carolina’s Division of Forest Resources. The team was versed in the FireWise program for managing Wildland Urban Interface areas, and quickly became acquainted with the ins-and-outs of mapmaking with Microsoft Access and ESRI ArcMap.
Over the past two weeks the CWPP team has visited five fire stations across North Carolina’s Fire District 10. With the assistance of Randolph’s Assistant County Ranger Glen Coley, they have documented the preparedness data of each station in their CWPP database.
The team is now completing CWPP reports for the five stations they visited. They are also planning a river excursion for the coming weekend.
For the first few days our group was together we spent it in learning about what a community is, how we all play a part in the community we form and how to deal with conflict within it. We also had training seminars including sexual harassment and Drive Safe Drive Smart. We went through the SCA handbook and learned the Emergency Response Plan and where it is kept around our camp. The two members of our crew old enough to drive learned how to drive reverse and park the truck with a trailer attached. Because of the nature of our project we spent a day becoming Certified Renovators and learned how to safely work with lead paint.
We started work on the cabin on the fence, repairing or replacing 120 feet. This included digging new post holes, sawing and chiseling notches to create rests for cross pieces, cutting posts to be the correct height and assembling the final product. With the help of a work crew from the National Forest we emptied the cabin of all the old furniture and junk, removed barbed wire from around the perimeter, and cleared pathways. We removed old scrap wood and fallen trees from around the property. We repainted the Plummer Ridge sign. We removed an old stump and took out a deck that was falling apart. We also removed an old antenna that was attached to the back of the cabin. We took measurements and inventory of all the repairs that needed to be done on the outside of the cabin.
Within the cabin there was a lot to do! We began by spraying down the cabin with bleach and water to prevent anyone from getting hanta. Then we wiped down all the walls, ceilings, doors and cabinets, taped of areas not to be painted, then painted them with primer. After the primer dried we came back through and painted with a lovely eggshell color. We also painted the trim of the windows in olive green, classic!
Our next step was the flooring. We tore up the old linoleum flooring and painstakingly scraped off all the glue and paper residue that was stuck to the original flooring. We patched up holes in the floor and put down a moisture barrier. Our next step is to install the wood flooring.
Rock Cribbing 55ft
Rock Water Bars 2
Rock Crush Created for Filling Tread 60 cubic feet
Drainage ditches 70ft
The first morning of our 10 day excursion into the land of rock work began with a 3 hour meeting with our Forest Service partners. The crew received a formal introduction to the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, and had the opportunity to meet the Area Ranger Beth Merz, as well as a few of the Forest Service volunteers working near us this season.
Around lunchtime we arrived at our trailhead and started packing in our gear to set up our camp. Our camp site was a beautiful spot located off the Appalachian Trail about 1/8th of a mile from the start of our project area, and about 2miles from the parking lot. It took 3 trips to pack in all of our tools, food, personal gear, and a 6.5ft long steel box. The box was lovingly nicknamed the box of pain, as it weighed at least 100lbs and only had two small handles. Luckily the box will remain at the campsite for the duration of the season. Camp was fully set up around 10pm, and we promptly went to sleep.
The next morning we hiked our tools down to our project site, had a stretch session, a safety meeting and then met up with Evan Blevins, one of our Forest Service contacts, and got started on the day. Evan showed us what needed to be done in the first section. The first section was about 50ft long, starting at where the blasting team had created the beginnings of a lead-out ditch in the high berm, and ending at an old check dam that was not functioning. We needed to first shovel out the 4 inch layer of muck and then raise the tread to get it out of the water course, and build a drainage to get the water clear of our trail.
We proceeded throughout the hitch to set 55ft of large rocks into the trail, and made lots of crush to backfill between the crib wall and the uphill slope of the trail, effectively elevating the trail 6 to 8 inches. We spent most mornings with 1 to 2 people setting rocks, while the other 4 located new ones and used the magic of rock bars to roll them over to the wall. In the afternoon the groups switched to making crush, re-vegetating the spots where we quarried rock from, and the other group charging away at setting rocks.
As the crib wall was completed the drainage structure was built. We first cleaned up the lead-out ditch, then worked up hill, digging an out sloped drain parallel to the tread to channel water down to the lead-out ditch without tearing up our new tread surface, or depositing muck on it. We finished these off with a rock water bar at both the top and bottom of our wall, to ensure the water flowed where we wanted it to. We still have to make more crush to finish raising the tread, but overall we got a lot done and worked together really well.
On our first hitch we spent the first 6 days brushing out overgrown plants and branches from the trail, covering about a mile in total, and fixing the trail tread (walking surface) which was in some areas severely outsloped from repeated horse use over the years. The total amount of tread we rebuilt (essentially) was about half a mile - quite of lot - and walking it now is a much more pleasant experience! Part of the maintenance of the tread also involved micro-blasting large rocks that were too big to break open with the double jack sledgehammers. Simon and Scott from the Forest Service came out and demonstrated the process, even letting us pull the detonation trigger most of the time (don't worry, it's not as explosive as it sounds - and luckily no certifications were needed).
Then we spent the second half of the hitch building a 70 foot rock turnpike in an area of the trail sunken under about a foot of water. The river had apparently shifted course, flooding this stretch of trail, and a reroute was impossible with the steep cliffs on the other side. No complaints from us - it was a dirty, wet, and muddy adventure to set the boundary rocks (not to mention fun!). We're still working on finishing it up, but already much of the water has been diverted and it's much more walkable than it previously was.
All in all, a wonderful start to the summer!