Texas and New England; 1st Hitch Report

Hitch Report 1
Waco Texas

Welcome to Waco, Texas. Central Texas home of the roaming cattle ranchers. I believe Texas have the most ranches, pickup trucks and the most hospitable people in this country. Since landing down in Texas three weeks ago, the people down here have been the nicest and most humble people I have ever met. This started when we started to check out the project lakes we were to survey. Meeting with the rangers and the administration at the project lakes was great. Learning about each dam and every one of them has a different secondary mission. Whitney has a hydroelectric plant installed inside of it. While Waco and Still house Provides water to all the counties within a 100 miles range. Belton and Still house are the only dams that are natural earthen dams and they are specifically built for total flood control.

While we were visiting Whitney we were able to take a tour of the dam there and it was like walking through a time machine but even though it was built in the fifties it was still high tech but simple technology. We enjoyed our visit. On June 14 the head ranger asked us to survey and give feedback on their newly built 1-¾ mile long bike and jogging trail to see if there was needed changes or improvements to the trail before it opened. The new trail was beautiful and needed only minor improvements dealing with proper drainage of water.

During that time, we took a day trip to Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge where we hiked around the beautiful scenery for 12 miles in the sub desert area. But we didn’t stop there we continued straight down to Austin to go sightseeing and learn more about the state history and culture. We first went to The University of Texas to visit the Lyndon J. Johnson Library Museum to learn more about him and his wife, Lady Bird. Then we walked to the state capital to learn more about the beginning of the state and the diversity of people who helped make Texas what it is now. We walked about their downtown area to see the daily commotions of native Austin citizens. The visit to the city was great and hope we get another chance to see more of it soon!

Our first day of official surveying was June 13. One group started early in the morning at 8:20am at Soldier Bluff at Whitney lake while our second group had to start at 1:40pm to start at Westcliff at Belton lake. At the end of the day, everything went through smoothly and we are hoping that it will continue to be a fun and exciting experience.

New England Hitch Report 1
 15-June-2011

Greetings from New England! After settling down in Massachusetts, we started off by making appointments with different USACE project managers located at the sites we will be surveying throughout the summer. We wanted to get the ball rolling by making sure we have a conservation project scheduled every week. The first site we went to was Buffumville Dam, there we met with park ranger and project manager, Tim Russell. We discussed some possible conservation projects and ended up agreeing to work on the cranberry bog island, dealing with invasive species.

On June 11, 2012, we met with Tim Russell’s fellow park rangers, Nicole and Jean. They took us out to the cranberry bog on a motor boat. We were equipped with camouflage-colored water waders, pair of gloves, and an endless supply of garbage bags. The environment was marshy and the island was really small. This was our first experience working in this type of environment. We enjoyed stomping around in mud and water, carefully seeking out the invasive plant called loosestrife and making sure to pluck out the entire plant (roots included). There were many wildlife on the island, and we even saw a duck’s nest with 7 eggs. We took a mini lunch break, which consisted of peanut butter jelly sandwiches. The overall time we spent on the bog was 3 hours, and we are currently scheduling another project at that location because the experience was wonderful and the park rangers were great to work with.

On June 14, 2012, we began our very first day surveying. We began our Thursday morning by leaving our house at 5:00AM so we can arrive at our site in Connecticut (Mansfield Hollow Dam and West Thompson Dam) before 7:00. We were really excited to start working, and the first day went really smoothly. The second day took place at the same two locations, and it went even better because now we are more comfortable with the locations and surveying.

On our off days we enjoy sight-seeing and being typical tourists. We have gone to downtown Hartford, Connecticut and also the very beautiful and historical city of Boston. This entire SCA internship has taught us many valuable things. From the wonderful training in Carnation, Washington to the various hands on experience we’ve received doing conservation projects, our time working with the SCA has been amazing. We are grateful to be placed in New England, the people and weather are both great. We are looking forward to more adventures and learning new things in the months to come.