AK Corp Team 1: Week Eight

Kickin' it in Kenai

Off to Kenai National Park and our last week with invasive plant pulling. We’re camping at Miller’s Landing in Seward, our first time being on the coast! We’re in a rainforest ecosystem and are feeling the reality of that, LOTS OF RAIN. We are currently camped out among a few small lakes that are growing in the campsite. Hoping to stay dry is not longer realistic…just hoping not to float away tonight. The coast really is a great place to be, we get to drive along Resurrection Bay on the way to work every morning and often see sea otters or eagles. Watching the fishermen bring in their catch at the end of the day is cool to see too, wish we had more time here to do some fishing of our own.

Worked with the dynamic duo of Nick and Cory this week eradicating some old favorites and exciting new plants. Also had a chance to work with 2 local high school students that are a part of the Youth Conservation Corps program, funny guys that are all about having a good time while working hard and staying extra safe on the job.

Annual bluegrass (Poa annua) probably accounted for the majority of our plant pulling hours, but don’t worry, we spent some time with dandelions too. We worked in the nature center parking lot, maintenance yard, visitor center and the Harding Icefield trail (an awesome trail that goes up to a view of the Harding Icefield and a great view of Exit Glacier). Lots of visitor interaction this week, it’s interesting to see the variety of the people visiting the park and to hear their comments on our work (a lot of questions about how much gold we’ve found….unfortunately none yet).

Aside from plant removal, we also had the chance to do some work with our old trail tools we’ve been missing! A few weeks ago the glacial melt river changed course and washed out a wide section of trail nearby the visitor center. The trail crew quickly built new trail and moved the benches back, but the old trail left a 5 foot wide trail leading to the washout. We covered the old gravel trail with duff and brush and removed the matting from underneath the gravel so that nature can take back over.

At the end of each day we wrap up weighing the bags of plants we pulled for the day. This may be the most anticipated part of the day (aside from dinner time) as we take bets on the weight, seeing who can guess closest to the actual weight without going over. We pulled over 400 pounds of plants this week!! All of these plants go to the Seward transfer station where they will then head to Anchorage for ultimate destruction.

All in all, this week was a great week to end our invasive plant treatment career on. Shoutout to project leader Lesley for setting up a second work exchange for the group, headed out sea kayaking tomorrow! Hoping the rain and gray clears up for us (but not counting on it). Looking forward to starting our final project of the season next week, watch out Alaska….here comes AK Corps 1 with chainsaws!!!