We began our sixth and final hitch by moving out of the Mammoth employing housing on Tuesday the 16th with a course set for Crowley Lake Campground in Long Valley. Upon arrival at the camp, we discovered that it was placed just across from Crowley Lake, with a beautiful view of its waters and the mountains in the distance. The camp, however, offered no shade or water, and after a long day of working in the sun, shade is very much appreciated. Fortunately, our agency contact Richard Williams was very helpful and set us up at Holiday Campground. We were pleasantly surprised to find that our new home was not only heavily wooded, but closed to public use, making us the only campers in the entire campground. Once we had picked out our campsite we unloaded the trailer and groceries for the hitch and set-up camp. We ended our pre-hitch day by watching the moon rise over the mountains and falling asleep under the glorious stars.
On our first work day, Wednesday, we followed Rich through the town of Crowley up to popular ATV and Motorcycle location. Our first task was to close a large and steep incursion on a south-facing slope. The trail, once a two track, had evolved into a hiking trail due to the deep layer of sand that covered the length of it. We used vertical and horizontal mulching techniques primarily, utilizing the dead vegetation in the surrounding area as well as some live Bitter Brush and Rabbit Brush. A telephone pole we found amongst the brush was also used to barricade the down-hill entrance of the incursion. The project took two and a half days to complete, and the second part of Wednesday was spent inventorying our camp to prepare for the end of our season. The only users we met during our work on this incursion were a couple of women walking the trail with their dogs. It seemed as though we were the only animals out there for the entirety of the project, apart from the lizards scampering from bush to bush. We were, however, fortunate enough to spy a flock of large, white pelicans one morning. They circled our worksite for some time and then flew of across the horizon.
After completing the first incursion on Friday morning, we worked on a smaller one up the road from the first. Vertical and Horizontal mulching techniques were usedon the project as well. The specimens taken from the surrounding environment were primarily dead, but inter-mixed were ten live plants. We encountered only one user on our second incursion closure, a friendly man on and ATV. It took us two hours to close the road and install a barrier, at which point we posted signs on both the first and second incursions to notify users that the sites were undergoing restoration and to use alternative routes. We left the worksite by 2:00 for the Bishop BLM office, where we were provided the facilities to take showers and begin our end-of-season portfolio before we went to the potluck at Bernadette’s house.
The entirety of Saturday was spent at the Mammoth library working on our end-of-season portfolio. On Sunday we began our third and final project of the hitch and season: repairing the frost-heaved and uneven pathway to Wild Willy’s hot spring. In order to level the path and remove trip hazards, we pulled up the railroad ties and cross boards from the original path, dug them down further into the ground – securing them with rebar stakes – and filled in the cracks with the extra soil. Once the rail road ties were fully sunk, the path was raked and excess soil was placed on the sides of the pathway and compacted to provide extra support. We got as far as we could on the pathway in the two half days and one full day that we had to work on it. The two half days were taken to attend to end-of season preparations back at camp. The first and second days we were working saw the most tourist traffic, approximately ten the first day and anywhere between ten and twenty the second. On the third day there were only seven visitors. Leaving the site Tuesday afternoon was sad indeed, as it was our last day of work together and our last day of work in the majestic Sierra.
150 feet of pathway restored at Wild Willy’s hot spring
271.9 meters of road restored
On Tuesday, our first day of hitch, we prepared for the next 10 days. We started early, packing up camp at the Crestview Fire Station and loading up the trailer for the journey down to Bishop, where we would be meeting with the Forest Service wilderness / travel management work crew as well as a Friends of the Inyo stewardship crew and a Youth Conservation Corps crew (who left on Friday) to prepare for the journey to Coyote Flat. We bought groceries and packed up our truck (we’d be unable to bring the trailer up to Coyote Flat) and the convoy finally left the White Mountain Ranger Station around 2 pm. Our truck bed packed full and five bear-proof panniers loaded up with food (and graciously transported by a Forest Service truck), we began the lengthy drive into Coyote Flat. Although the area is close in proximity to Bishop, just southwest of the town, the road is rocky enough that even the mightiest of four-wheel-drive trucks is forced to a slow crawl up to the plateau, resting a good 3,000-7,000 ft or so in altitude above Bishop in the Owens Valley. When we finally made it up to what became our campsite, we were already enamored by the beautiful vista, with pine trees and fields of sagebrush and wildflowers.
Wednesday was another long day. We began work on our travel management objectives in an area offering sweeping views of the mighty Sierra Nevada mountain range. At the instruction of Forest Service agency contact Keith Waterfall and project leader Nolan Nitschke, we closed three ATV roads using vertical and horizontal mulching, including transplanting grass, sagebrush, and moving logs; we also assembled barriers and put in Carsonite posts. All crews worked together to achieve these objectives, and the day went by smoothly, even with a Forest Service truck getting the first flat tire of the week (flat tires would become a theme of the hitch as it progressed). The roads we closed weren’t thru-routes and led to dead ends.
On Thursday we worked in a new area. The SCA and Friends of the Inyo Crews as well as Nolan, Trevor, and Garrett from the Forest Service walked up a surprisingly intense ridge, completely uphill, to place a barrier to close off the road. At the top we saw a few ATVers who had greeted us on their way up and thanked us for our work. In addition, we were gifted a serene view down at Green Lake. After constructing the barrier we returned to the bottom of the hill to begin work on road maintenance. Our task would be preventing erosion and improving the road we’d just walked up by constructing waterbars, which would ease the water flowing down the hill onto the slope around the road instead of the road itself. The road was extremely rough and sported a great deal of erosive signs already so these waterbars would hopefully improve its situation and create a more sustainable pathway for hikers, ATV users, and mountain bikers (of which we saw two traveling down the road) to use. The waterbars were constructed by digging a long, deep hole, resting a large log into the hole which we cut from downed, dead trees, and digging another ditch, a swale, uphill from the log to draw the runoff onto the side of the road. Constructing these also required rockwork – large keystones were placed on either ends of the logs to keep them in place and we made crush around the logs and keystones to support them in the ground. Work on the waterbars occupied our crew’s time through Monday and we finished four. In addition, we dug three swales to divert runoff from the road to the sides, essentially a waterbar without the buried log or rocks. We also closed a road or pathway connecting two section of the road we were improving with waterbars using horizontal mulching of rocks, logs, and pine needles in order to discourage off-roading by ATV users and hopefully hinder the significant erosion occurring. While most of our crew was working with Trevor and Nolan from the Forest Service and Robyn, Dylan, and Briana from Friends of the Inyo on waterbars on Sunday and Monday, Frank and Chris were busy working with Brandi from the Forest Service on constructing barriers and putting in “No Motor Vehicles” Carsonite signs. During those two days they put up five barriers and many more signs.
On Tuesday the 9th the entire SCA crew, Friends of the Inyo, and our companions on the Forest Service work crew all united to convert a lengthy stretch of ATV road into a pedestrian trail using sagebrush transplantation and the construction of a barrier with accompanying Carsonite post. Everybody then began work on a project of a novel nature to us: improving an existing road that crossed a stream by placing large rocks and crush on the periphery of the stream, which would ease travel on the road as well as protecting the stream. While everyone else finished up that stream crossing stabilization project, Frank, Chris, Brandi, and Cameron all traveled to finish constructing a barrier on a closed ATV road and then loaded up the trucks for travel back to Bishop.
On Wednesday we departed from Coyote Flat, a lengthy drive out but not nearly as intense as the drive up. We appreciated the attitude and skill of the crews we worked with, both facilitating transit and protecting the splendor of Coyote Flat for future generations. Our crew is pleased by what we learned from and the achievements we collectively reached throughout the hitch with Nolan, Trevor, and Brandi from the Forest Service and Robyn, Dylan, and Briana of the Friends of the Inyo.
11 road closures using barriers, etc. (including one road turned into pedestrian trail)
4 waterbars built
3 swails dug
1 road / pathway closed using mulching (no barrier)
1 stream crossing on road stabilized
Our first day of hitch was spent preparing for our upcoming work week. We packed up camp and our belongings and headed for new campsite which turned out to be the Crestview Fire Station. We setup our camp anew and went shopping for all of the supplies we would need for the time we would spend there. Our first day of work was spent debarking logs to be used as posts for upcoming ATV road closure projects. The whole crew peeled a total of 76 logs that day which consisted of Jeffery Pine and Lodgepole Pine. Our third day, we began restoring ATV trails with Forest Service Ranger Rick LaBorde. We accomplished this by planting Sage and Bitterbrush over the trails to disguise them into the surrounding landscape. We also used a technique called duffing, where ground litter such as pine cones and pine needles were spread over the trail to assist in blending it in with the rest of the landscape so that passing by motorists would not think there was a road there.
Logs and branches would also be laid out to assist in this camouflaging. All of these techniques combined produced well disguised ATV trails which Rick LaBarde commented would not be noticed by anyone as they blended in so well. That evening we met the Friends of the Inyo work crew led by Stacey Corless accompanied with other administrative staff and Ranger Rick Laborde for pizza and a very informative question and answer session. The fourth day, we finished restoring the trail which we had begun the day before, as it was quite large and it took more than one day to complete. When we finished we moved on to another trail to close which was also substantial in size. We worked on this trail for the rest of the day but did not finish it.
This trail had multiple entrances which we soon found out as ATVers came from the other side trying to pass through. Fortunately they were kind and understanding of our project and left to use a different trail. The fifth day we continued restoring the trail we had left off on the previous day. After it was completed we restored the other side of the trail through which the ATVers had arrived the day prior which took the rest of the day. The sixth day we debarked more logs to be used as posts all day. Halfway through, project leader Chris Niebuhr excused himself to work on administrative duties. The crew debarked a total of 116 logs showing our productivity and skill had increased. The seventh day we left our current work area and went deeper into the forest to close more trails further from highway 395. We closed and restored 3 ATV trails this day but were not able to fully complete the last one due to time constraints, but the Friends of the Inyo work crew finished it for us so we could begin on other projects the next day. The eighth day we were in an area with many sand flats where the threatened species Dwarf Lupin grows. We closed and restored 2 ATV trails using previously mentioned techniques in addition to using preconstructed barriers to block passage of vehicles.
The Inyo National Forest Road Closure Crew assisted us by using an auger on a few trails to make planting easier. The ninth day we worked with both the Friends of the Inyo Work Crew and the Forest Service Road Closure Crew in a new location and closed and restored 5 ATV trails. The extra manpower helped us accomplish a great deal in a short period of time. The first 2 of these ATV trails was very large and required restoring a campsite as well, but with everyone working together we accomplished it in just a few hours. The later trails were smaller and midday the Friends of the Inyo Crew left to deal with other projects, but their prep work along with the Forest Service crew allowed us to close 2 more trails after they left. The tenth day we spent maintaining and inventorying our tools. Reorganizing and inventorying our trailer and preparing to move to our next hitch location in the backcountry of the Inyo National Forest, Coyote Flat.
This hitch, we got to camp in a beautiful pine forest in Toiyabe Nat’l forest with wonderful camp hosts, Ed and Loretta. We’ve been very thankful for the generous people we’ve been camped near and working with. Our “Supreme Leader”, Casey from the BLM has been bringing us some fresh produce from his farm, as well as a giant bag of chocolate covered sunflower seeds left over from his brother’s wedding, which has been a nice treat for us! An older couple at our campsite, who are good friends with the hosts, has been giving us tree ripened fruit from their orchard in southern California. We’ve never had such sweet, juicy, delicious fruit!
At the beginning and end of this hitch, we got to work with our good ol’ friend again, barbed wire! We took down more old wire, put up more new wire, and fixed a lot of breaks along some wires. We got a little break from it, and got to do some restoration work on a burm that diverts water to Kirkwood Meadows. We used sandbags, rocks, logs, and whatever else we could find to build up the banks from overflowing into the wrong places, as well as destroying beaver dams. We were a little apprehensive about destroying the property of those cute little things at first, but they’re not native to the area and the meadows are in more need of the water. On Monday we got to work with the botanist of the BLM, Martin Oliver, who showed us some of the native, invasive, and rare plants of the area. It was very nice learning from him! That day we restored some head cuts, which was fun for us, puzzling together rocks and such.
During a couple of days doing barbed wire, we all got to feel like real cowboys and cowgirls by herding some cattle! So much so, that we all came up with southern family names for each other…. Grandma Prune, Mammi, Uncle Noodle, Bubba, Cayenne, and Critter. Guess who's who!
We left Lone Pine June 21st around 9am and set out for Bishop to clean the coolers, buy propane, purchase food, and speak with BLM agency contacts about our work for the upcoming 10 days. Later that night we arrived in Virginia Creek and set up camp at a front country campsite managed by the BLM. We split up to tackle setting up the kitchen tent, organizing the trailer, and getting the tools prepared for the hitch. We ended the night exhausted but excited for what the BLM had in store for us.
Wednesday, June 22nd we were joined by Casey and Jeff from the BLM. They showed us some of our future work sites and explained the projects we would be involved in over the next week. We drove into the Bodie Hills and carried treated wood along fence lines to the old ‘H’ braces to be replaced. After battling the wind, sun, elevation, and a run-in with a rattle snake, we headed back to camp and were graced by the appearance of 10 antelope grazing on the mountain side. While preparing dinner in the Big Green Monster (our kitchen tent), Rachel ran in wide eyed and enlivened. She had been writing a letter to home outside by the river and looked up to see a mountain lion watching her 50 feet away. We all headed to bed a bit apprehensively.
The next 3 days encompassed what surely was close to every aspect of fencing imaginable; removal of old barbed wire, coiling, digging holes for new ‘H’ braces, chain sawing treated wood, removing old metal posts, putting in new metal posts, removing wire hooks, measuring and attaching clamps, and stringing new wire. By Saturday we had strung wire around a 105 square foot fenced in area, removed1103.25 meters of fence, pulled 92 metal posts, lopped along fence lines, put clamps on posts, and coiled and removed wire on another site. After adding a few new tears to our pants and wearing out our gloves so their original color became all but distinguishable, we walked away with a bit of a cowboy swagger.
Sunday brought a reprieve from barbed wire. We began working on stream bank stabilization in Kirkland Meadow; a beautiful meadow of wildflowers and gasses not a mile from camp. We reinforced the check dams, built up the stream embankments to prevent access water loss, and cleaned up the banks of the stream. By the end of the day we had restored 682.59 meters of the stream bank.
Monday reunited us with our old friend, barbed wire, but also brought some new faces. We were joined by a Youth Conservation Corps on both Monday and Tuesday for our work replacing 756.93 meters of wire and removing 62 metal posts. We were also joined by Martin and Casey with the BLM. The project seemed to go quickly and smoothly now that we had a firm grasp of fence work and the extra help.
Wednesday the 29th was our last work day on hitch 2. We returned to the site where we had removed the 92 posts and removed 1103.25 meters of barbed wire and began to put up new barbed wire. Clouds were rolling in and it had rained through the night and into the morning. We were bundled up working in the mist of the mountains. The wind picked up and the temperature dropped. No sooner had Kelsey voiced her concern for snow were we blinded by huge flakes. We strung the wire as quickly as we could and ended our day early as a result of running out of wire to string after a few chilly hours. We spent the remaining hours at the Mono Lake Visitor Center learning about the formation of the lake, the fragile ecosystem it encompasses, and the Kutzadika people who once lived there.
Thursday was met with sunshine and a determination to clean up camp as quickly as possible. We not only took down camp but began setting up for next hitch at our new location a few miles down the road.
We had a great time working with Jeff, Martin, and Casey as well as learning the ins and outs of fencing work. We are looking forward to working with the BLM on our next hitch. But for now, we are all in need of the upcoming break. Yosemite hoooooo!!!!
1860.18 meters of fence removed
756.93 meters of wire replaced
682.59 meters of stream bank restored
155 posts removed
Tuesday June 6 marked the first day of our first hitch in the Eastern Sierra. The next ten days would be spent at Manzanar National Historic Site under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. To celebrate the beginning of our summer field season, we were graciously welcomed by all of the agencies we will work this season at the Mt. Whitney Fish Hatchery. The following day we received our orientation specific to Manzanar and were guided around the site by former internee Sab Sasaki. We were also greeted on this day by all of the Manzanar staff that we would work with for the next 9 days including SCA Conservation Intern Jesse Shearer. On the afternoon of day two we began the work project that we would be destined to complete 8 days later. The project would be to remove both native and invasive vegetation from a strip of property between the historic fence and the entrance road to Manzanar. Over the years these plants have overgrown and blocked the visibility of the historic barbed wire fence. The majority of the plants removed were native salt brush and invasive Russian thistle. Also included in this project was the removal of a five wire fence having no historical value, running parallel to the road. On days 5, 6 and seven the X-Corps was joined by 4 more SCA Conservation Interns from Devil’s Postpile National Monument who are still snowed out of their work site. Throughout the entirety of the time spent at Manzanar the X-Corps was given numerous opportunities to experience the cultural and historical significance of this place. This included a visit to the historic reservoir, lunch by a creek known as a favorite picnic site by Manzanar internees, a tour of the historic orchard and visiting the Japanese gardens that have been unearthed over the years. We would like to extend an enormous thank you to all of the Manzanar staff that made us feel so welcomed during our hitch, to Jesse for being our honorary crew member, and to Sab Sasaki for sharing with us his Manzanar memories and knowledge.
• 18 trailers full of brush @ 144 cubic feet / trailer
• 792.5 meters of fence removed
• 21,457 meters sq of brush removed
As you can see, my name is Rachel Hicks. I'm from the great plains, Oklahoma City, but the foothills of the Ozarks is what I'd like to call home, as it is the closest place with more scenery than just flat plains. I attained my associate's degree in Horticulture in 2009, with an emphasis in Sustainable Crops Production. As much as I love the horticulture field, I knew that I wanted my career to be more involved with nature. As a graduation gift to myself, I decided to take a long road trip to see the Pacific Northwest, which is something I had been wanting to do for a long time. I fell in LOVE with the whole area.. more lush, green landscapes, more biodiversity, mountains, coast line.. everything! When I came home, I decided that some kind of environmental studies would be my best bet to be able to have a career while enjoying the beauty of nature. So, that's what I'm doing now - attending OU for a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Environment. I'm loving my classes so far, just not sure where I want to take my degree yet; which is what I'm hoping this internship will help me with. This will be my first SCA experience, and I'm very excited about it! Living, working, and learning in wilderness - sounds perfect to me!
Various interests have led me zig zagging and meandering along the road of life teaching me to be patient and enjoy the ride. I am always wanting to know, see, and do more. I will soon have my B.S. in Environmental Policy and hope to continue working in sustainable agriculture there after. The color green, the smell of healthy soil, a hard days work, brisk winter air, the crunch of dead leaves, intellectual conversation, expression without words, energy, outdoor activity, leaving it all on the ice, community meals, and warm lighting are some of the many things I value. I seek to find a balance in life where I can satisfy my nomadic urge while being of benefit to others.
I am currently a biology student at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma Washington. The majority of my life has been spent in the Northwest, enjoying its mountains, forests, beaches and rainy climate. I did spend some time in Kansas as a kid, however, and was equally captivated by its expansive plains, extreme weather and the animals that managed to live there. My passion for the natural world runs deep and I am determined to do my part in preserving it. I worked on a community crew with the SCA last summer in Seattle (my home), removing invasive species and doing trail work. This summer I wanted to try something new. I welcome the challenges and adventures that lay before me with the Eastern Sierra Conservation Corp and look forward to investigating the native plant and animal life of the Sierras. I anticipate a fantastic summer, but I will miss a few things here at home: my twin brother, riding the Burke Gilman bike trail on sunny days, baking whilst listening to Yann Tiersen and of course… Theo’s Chocolate Factory!
Hi, my name is Frank Boxenbaum and will soon to be a graduate of SIUC
with a bachelor in forestry and a minor in anthropology. This will be
my first time participating in the SCA, I hope to learn a lot and meet some cool new people who are interested in the way the world works. I hope one day to be a globe trotting adventurer like Indiana Jones, but first I've got to earn my hat. Coming from the suburbs of Chicago with a 22 year road behind me I am looking forward to my first visit to the Golden state. I've been enjoying the forests of Illinois my whole life and now I'm excited to see what the west coast has to offer.
This summer is my first time involved with the SCA. I am thrilled to take part in the Eastern Sierra Restoration Corps. Throughout my life, beginning with my childhood adventures in my various backyards in Colorado and Virginia, I have felt a strong connection to the wilderness, a bond only amplified when I first backpacked in 2008. I am currently a student at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington studying philosophy and environmental policy. I am thrilled to be able to work in the backcountry of California and I'm excited for the many adventures that await me. My favorite things include parks (!), rock climbing, cycling, reading (especially Roberto Bolaño), writing, music, food, backpacking, and meeting new people.
In 2009 I graduated from SUNY ESF in Syracuse, NY with a degree in Environmental Science. Throughout college my love for the out of doors grew, becoming more and more of who I am today. Backpacking trips to the Adirondacks were frequent and summers at home in nearby Otego were enjoyed while engaging myself in the cultivation of tasty organic veggies. Upon my graduation from college I could no longer resist the westward pull that had been gaining strength throughout the years. I joined the SCA’s Desert Restoration Corps for the 2009/2010 season. 8 months in California was not enough for me and so I decided to be a member of the 2010 WildCorps and explore northern California for another 6 months of conservation work. I am stoked to be able to return once again to the Eastern Sierra and lead this crew.