3.22.2010 - 9.23.2010 Project Leader: Molly Downer email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 208-608-6330 PO Box 129 2D McKey Building Albright Avenue Grand Canyon, AZ 86023
It has been a while since posting here. Weekly duties are getting harder and harder to keep up with. We have much to report. Meredith came for a site visit and we ended up taking her to the North Rim because the vegetation department was having a meeting over there. The North Rim was beautiful, we went to the meeting and did a day of maintenence around the admin building. We pulled invasives, planted some salvaged plants, and watered them in. We met with Meredith and gave our mid-season presentation to her at our campsite. It was a good week, nice to be out of project sites and working on something different. After our north rim visit, we decided to turn our mid-season presentation into a public presentation. Camie made a flyer to post in various places around the park to let the public know. It was beautifully illustrated with oil pastels. Christine and Camie decided to make a video for their portion and it turned out great, it was very professionally done. We had several techincal issues that we gracefully overcame with a little persistence. We had 10 attendees, mostly some friends from the interpretation department and some veg people.
I have compiled a rough estimate of some of the work we have completed from March-June at GCVC.
3,876 plants in the ground (including two weeks of 30 SCA spring break volunteers helping) in planting sites P5, P6, P9, P11, and P10
362 plants salvaged from the dump (mostly globe mallow) + 16 plants salvaged from the new parking lot area plus a lot of duff salvaged for future plantings
59,538 invasives pulled from restorations sites at GCVC
14 volunteer groups worked with - mostly ACE teams and GCY groups
Those numbers don't include the majority of our work: watering. Our watering hours are usually two full 10 hour days per week and sometimes 3 days depending on how dry it is.
The irrigation system seems to be in working order now... for the most part. Some areas are getting repairs done, some of the irrigation is underground and when we plant things, go figure, we hit underground pipes sometimes. I think the next contractor to put in irrigation here is doing it completely underground... glup. Any suggestions on how to not hit the lines and break our equipment?
We did a large planting with almost everybody in the vegetation department at the end of July after a big rain. It was great to feel supported by the staff and volunteers here. They did a great job, and our site looks wonderful. So we finished planting P10, B10, and B11 (B means basin) and have started caging it.
With the help of GCT and ACE volunteers we started planting P7 this past week. Already we have close to 1,000 plants in that site with a few hundred to go. Not to mention caging, seeding, duffing, and invasive pulling. I took some pre-planting pictures of P7 and they are below (post-invasive removal). I will post the post-planting pictures when we are done.
The last couple weeks we have also been focusing on getting high priority invasives out of our sites, namely russian thistle or tumbleweed. Over 1500 russian thistle pulled... ugh. They are everywhere.
Special Note: The endemic species present in part of our site: Tusayan Flameflower is blooming right now. Last year they transplanted some of it to an island in one of our parking lots and it seems to have survived to bloom again!
The team is now planning the plantings around the new bathrooms... totally glamorous. It is definately high visibility because everyone who comes to the grand canyon will be using these state of the art bathrooms just seconds away from the rim. We have some girls on the team who are interested in landscaping and are excited about the project. Jan Busco usually does the plans for us, but this time we will make the plans and hopefully we can get the plants in the ground before they all leave otherwise the next team will get to plant it.
The rains have given us a much needed rest from watering. We have been able to focus on planting, caging, etc. And they bring in the cooler temperatures for the afternoons which is really nice.
The "Orange Grove" is getting moved out and planted finally!!! For those who aren't regular subscribers to our postings, the orange grove is about 30 salvaged pinyon and juniper trees in boxes that have been waiting to get in the ground since last fall. Christine has been their caretaker for the past few months and has monitored them for bark beetle, watered, and blessed them. They are healthy and finally going in the ground.
Today the construction crew started demolition on the Pinyon-Juniper stand that is to become a parking lot... it was sad to see. Some of those trees were over 100 probably even 200 years old. But we move on, and plant even more.
Well that is all for now. More soon hopefully.
June 7th - 10th
What a week. This week we worked with so many volunteer groups it is hard to keep them separate in my mind. On Monday and Tuesday we had a Grand Canyon Youth (GCY) group working with us all day. GCY is based out of Flagstaff and they seem like pretty awesome organization. They lead groups of youth (middle school through high school) on river trips and in service. Kids apply for these trips from all around the country and even some international students are included as well. We started out the week planting P10 with GCY. Honestly it was a pretty hot day which lead to low morale within the group. We got a large portion of the planting done, but there are still plants waiting at the nursery to get in the ground. The next day we changed it up a bit so that they got to do a variety of tasks. We started watering P5/6 and we also started mulching and seeding the area. They seemed to take to the task like champs. Seeding requires a bit of coordination and teamwork and I think they succeeded in the task. After we sent them on their way we continued to water that area. Over the week we completed watering the rest of our project sites. We worked with ACE and YCC on Wednesday and Thursday this week. They completed the seeding and mulching over at P5 and helped prep for our volunteers for the following week. YCC staged caging and materials at P5 while ACE helped clean up tools and did duff collection out at Rowe Well Road. We have so many volunteer groups right now it is necessary to use them to prepare for the next volunteer group. We are blessed with extra hands and good volunteers, but at the same time we need time to learn and do things ourselves. It is spring here and it is about time we started attacking the invasive problem in our restoration sites. They are only getting worse each day that goes by. We started pulling them this week in our free time and found that invasive ID is not our strong point yet. Oh, and I forgot to mention how great our YCC group is. They are composed mostly of high school kids who live here at the south rim. Most of them have planted with us in the past... see our previous entry on earth day. They take to whatever task is given to them very easily. They love working with our water buffaloes, and seem to take pride in their work. Frustrations this week seem to revolve around watering and the irrigation system. It is not completely working yet. I guess we'll find out next week if it is functional.
June 14th - 17th
Good Morning, you have 37 volunteers visiting your site today and by the way a film crew is meeting you after lunch for interviews. That was our Monday morning. I knew it was going to be a busy Monday, but there are always a few surprises that get overlooked the week before. It turned out to be a great day. It was not too hot, and everyone was in a good mood. The GCY group we worked with this week was super helpful and great workers. I know I always say that the volunteers were awesome but this group really was. We seeded and mulched P9 (my favorite site), watered P5/6 and finished mulching P5. The mulch that ACE collected last week went to good use this week in P9. That site looks so good that I am hesitant to put caging in. It is a highly trafficked site so I think it gets grazed less by the Elk and deer (knock on wood). The film crew did their thing, Jess and Christine were in a couple clips and they interviewed Christi (NPS crew lead) at our site. Another youth group stopped in around lunch time for about 1.5 hours of invasive removal. So we had an additional 20 people to work with. Gulp... oh well, we dealt with it with the help of Emmy Brockman (Environmental Educator and YCC crew lead extraordinaire). Well, the next day we had to arrange our day around a zoological disease training. We set up our volunteers on pulling invasives and let them go. Later that day we continued watering. On Wednesday we almost finished watering but another buffy decided to call it quits on us. We have one strong survivor left now... buffy number 3 is going strong. On Thursday, YCC completed some caging for us, we finished watering, but most of the day was an office day. We got a little caught up on organization and office work. This week the team started having dance breaks in the middle of the day... I'm not sure how it came about but I think this is a good practice.
This week went by fairly quickly. Monday and Tuesday consisted mostly of watering natives and killing invasive plant species. On Wednesday we got some variety. We learned that a new parking lot would be built in the immediate future and that we had to salvage as many plants as possible before construction. So we spent the day digging in the earth for penstemon, grasses, and junipers. Thursday morning consisted of gathering seed from a native plant called 'needle and thread grass'. The greenhouse/nursery staff will now grow the seed for upcoming revegetation projects. In the afternoon we all prepped for our upcoming cultural project. It was an easy, highly successful week.
This was yet another busy week for the SCA crew. It was a long eight day stretch full of watering, construction, goodbyes, volunteers, and trainings. We started the week with our normal watering schedule. We also spent time building fences around our plants and prepping for volunteers.
For some variety Cynthia, Jessica, and Molly helped other vegetation staff with a century milk vetch annual site survey. The century milk vetch is a rare, endemic plant that gets a lot of special attention from the park's staff. Our crew walked along the rim and counted how many milk vetches were present. We all also got trained to look through high-powered microscopes and search for tiny milk vetch seeds that are as small as soil particles.
On Friday we sadly had to say goodbye to Cynthia. She was hired on to the Fire Monitoring staff in Grand Tetons National Park. She was vital to the success of our crew during her time in the canyon. She became not only a great person to work with but also a dear friend that will remain in our lives.
Over the weekend we had a group of volunteers arrive. This meant spending some time planting. Once again they were a huge help in getting over a hundred plants in the ground.
We spent our last day of work getting recertified in CPR. After a lot of hard work we spent the next seven days having adventures. Jess and Christine headed to Zion National Park to play. There they had a final hoo-rah with Cynthia who was road-tripping north. Molly spent some quality time hiking in the Grand Canyon. It was a great way celebrate a successful week.
The aim of this SCA NPC crew is to assist the vegetation office at the Grand Canyon National Park with site rehabilitation near the most visited overlook in the park: the Visitor Center at Mather Point. This area is currently in Phase II of a construction project aimed at enhancing the visitor experience and decreasing disturbances from visitor traffic. Our role is to restore old road scars and vegetation islands to Pinyon-Juniper woodland habitat. Our duties include: planting native plants; watering our plantings; invasive removal; plant salvage; seed and duff collection.
The beauty and magnificence of the canyon are a constant presence in our day to day lives. Everyday we are surrounded by inquisitive visitors and the bustle of the 2nd most visited park in the United States. If it ever gets to be too much noise, all you have to do is drop below the rim and you are in the backcountry.
Thank You to all the volunteers and our Partners for making this possible.
Camie Dencker is a recent graduate of the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fl, where she studied biology with a focus in botany. This is her first time living in the southwest and is really enjoying hiking around Northwestern Arizona. She is excited to be working on a re-vegetation project and is a beast at breaking apart rocks with a pic-matic.
April 20th – April 26th
For our first 7 day work week, Molly and I decided to split the leadership roles and co-lead. Our initial start to the week was a bit rocky due to unforeseen weather. While watering, an intense cold front enveloped our crew sending us hail, sleet, and prevailing winds. In the end it was decided to pack up the equipment and head to safety. A couple days into the week with continuous snow, the crew celebrated Earth Day with the local 10th grade biology class from Grand Canyon High School by establishing a new planting site and planting over a 100 native plants. Despite digging in the wet mud, the students persevered with smiling faces and cheerful attitudes.
Later in the week, volunteers through the Grand Canyon Trust enthusiastically salvaged 100 globe mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) and removed Russian Thistle (Salsola tragus) and Bur Buttercup (Ranunculus testiculatus). The following day, the volunteers helped us replant the globe mallow that we salvaged the day before.
Our first week proved to be a success: we braved the harsh elements, completed a large portion of a large planting site, and removed nasty invasives while saving globe mallow all with the help of hard working volunteers.
Sophia is a recent graduate from the University of Pittsburgh. She graduated with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Anthropology and also has a minor in Applied Statistics. This is her first SCA season and her first time in the southwest. She is looking forward to experiencing this new environment and learning all she can about the native plant species.
5/10/10 - 5/13/10
Monday: Attack! I designed a watering plan for the day. At our corps meeting, I laid out the battle plan because this is WAR. We will conquer the GCVC watering! We have 14ish project sites to water. Each represents a different battleground within the bounds of GCVC, and each battleground must be conquered to win the war.
We were lucky to have two volunteers with us and three buffies for the day. We were able to accomplish much more with their help.
Christine checked soil moistures for us at P5 and P9, watered P9, and spent the rest of the day at Orange Grove fertilizing our large trees with the help and guidance of NPS staff Christie Sorrell and Jan Busco. The rest of us attacked P5 and P6 on both the eastern and western fronts with two buffies and 5 infantrymen. These units were conquered by lunch when the team split in two, Jess and a volunteer going to conquer the 8 large trees in P8 while I and two volunteers waged war on P10 and P11 with 2 buffies.
We met with Christie and Jan in the afternoon to discuss general site maintenance.
Tuesday: The battle continues, but the opposition begins to fight back. Molly teamed up with Emmy, another SCA intern, to tackle a section of P5 that had escaped our grasp the day before. Depending on time and resources, Molly was to assault some of our smaller units: P4, A5-E, A-5W, and RS2. I took one of our volunteers to one of our largest units, P1, with hopes of being able to keep 1 buffy running continuously at the site and move on to our final unit, P2, which looks deceptively small. Meanwhile, Jess lodged a sneak attack on P3, the unit behind the bathrooms, while Christine continued fertilizing trees at Orange Grove.
Molly met with success at P5 and P7, and they were within our grasp by lunch, but Emmy was unfortunately a casualty of war. We lost her at lunch.
The dry ground joined forces with an onslaught of snow to slow our progression at P1, and we had to call in reinforcements. Molly rushed to our aid, but Jess was kidnapped and led into the depths of the Orange Grove in a race against time. With Molly’s help, P1 was quickly conquered, and we moved on to the smaller units, but left P2 for another day.
Wednesday: P2 falls, and the Orange Grove surrenders. The troops were reduced to the corps and one water buffalo. Jess and Christine continued their battle at Orange Grove, armed with goggles, gloves, and Superthrive in the morning. By afternoon the Superthrive battle was over and, Christine was inspecting the trees with the gentle care of Doctor Mom.
Molly and I launched our attack on P2 with the help of Bruce and Buffy #1. P2 was defeated just after lunch. Molly spent the afternoon mapping our project sites and working on datasheets. Jess and I began mulching our planting basins in P10 and P11, as Jan and Christie had suggested the day before. We were able to mulch the ¾ of the area in the shade before clean-up time.
Thursday: Office Day for all!
5/3/10 - 5/6/10
We had another volunteer week here. This time we had ACE (American Conservation Experience) helping us out for the week. They are another conservation organization that is based out of Flagstaff. This week we had 7 of them to work with for the entire week. We started the week watering our planting sites as usual. Every Monday is scheduled for watering at GCVC, but our watering duties keep piling up so watering has really been extended to 2 full days of watering. Since the snow melt, we have had to water more and more areas. After a restoration site has been planted it needs to be watered for at least 3 years afterward. Two years ago, an SCA crew planted along Hermit Road and now the watering schedule there has been reduced to every other week. Last fall, the SCA crew at GCVC completed a lot of restoration and we are continuing to water and maintain their old sites as well as any new plantings that we complete. Watering is a weekly battle that we are continuing to learn how to tackle. We water with 500 gallon water baffalos or “buffies” attached to the back of our trucks. While 500 gallons sounds like a lot, some of our sites require 5-6 loads of full buffies in order to complete. ACE helped us complete our watering priorities faster than usual. After that was done, we got the ACE crew started on gathering duff from a section of pinyon-juniper woodland that is going to be turned into another parking lot. While the idea of another parking lot cementing over even more of our beloved native plants isn’t all that appealing to anyone, it is sorely needed. The parking lots fill up here, and we aren’t even in the busy season yet. When they fill up people get desperate and park on the sides of roads, in restoration sites, etc. Hopefully this parking lot will be the last. Anyway… we also brought around 3 truckloads of downed wood into P-9 and P-5. At the end of the week the ACE crew planted some large woody plants in P-5 continuing our stuggle to get that large mound planted. In addition to completing their planting duties, ACE staked down a couple salvaged trees that were leaning over and spread some of the mulch that they collected. Molly and Jessica worked a regular Mon-Thurs week this week, while Cynthia and Christine took Wed-Thurs off because they had to attend their WFA training over the weekend in Sedona.
Christine and Cynthia loved the WFA training in Sedona. They were trained with individuals from all over. They said the trainers were excellent, they just wish they had more time to practice and ask questions. They got to practice their WFAing skills almost immediately when they got back. A friend of ours at the canyon took a pretty bad fall. She had deep scrapes and bruises up and down her legs and hips. We found out the day after she fell and they irrigated the wounds and dressed them properly. When she went to the doctor he commented on how great the wounds were cleaned out. Good Job Christine and Cynthia!
We had our very first volunteer group this Friday. The team thoroughly enjoyed working with this group. We planted a small section called P-9. All of our planting areas are now called P- #. This represents planting areas 1-11. P-9 is in a high visible area, so we put some gorgeous agaves, yuccas, and other visually appealing plants here. We worked with 5 10th grade boys that are in the Grand Canyon Youth project and their teacher. They were earning service hours toward a chance to raft down the river. They also have to raise money for the trip and do some kind of presentation about the canyon. Their conversation was priceless. For the most part they planted small plants, but some of the boys wanted a challenge, so they planted some of the larger plants too. We saved the pointy cacti for an older volunteer group.
4/5/10 - 4/8/10
This week we started out working on caging the plants that were planted the week before so the animals wouldn’t prey on them and kill all our hard work. We also starting hand watering plants for the season because all the snow has melted and we are getting some dry and windy days here. The irrigation systems installed aren’t going to be turned on till we get the OK from the contractors who installed them. We started out watering the largest section planted by last fall’s crew called P-1, and fixed some smashed fencing from the heavy snows this past winter. Bruce (our SCA truck) had to be taken in for repairs on Wednesday because the wiring for attaching trailers wasn’t working correctly. It was a successful trip to Williams because he was able to fix it without ordering a new part. We have to say goodbye to Emily this week because she got a job offer in Seattle. We will miss your hard work, your attention to detail, and your laughs Emily. Bon voyage, come back to SCA if it doesn’t work out!
3/22/10 - 4/2/10
The entire crew arrived promptly on Sunday afternoon and settled into the labor cabins. The training week moved along quite nicely. Jill Kolodzne was here to help for the first three days and made the week more interesting so the crew didn’t have to listen to Molly talk all week. Thursday was Cynthia’s birthday and we celebrated with a piñata and chocolate cake at the end of the day. Good times were had. The second week that the team was here we joined forces with the SCA Spring Break group. On Monday and Tuesday, we learned proper tool usage and how to salvage plants at YACC camp and at Desert View. YACC camp will be converted into some much needed government housing in the near future, so we saved as many plants as was possible. On Thursday and Friday we got our first taste of working at our project site. The 29 Spring Breakers, 4 ACE interns, 1 SCA intern, several park service employees, and our crew planted around 1400 plants at GCVC in zone "P-5 and P-6". (This area is near lots 1& 2 south of Mather Point.)
Cynthia is an explorer on a constant quest for knowledge about the outdoor environment. She loves hands on in the field learning and work. One day she hopes to tie together all the knowledge she is acquiring about plants, wildlife, weather, and regional characteristics to do something for the betterment of the natural world.
Cynthia graduated from Clemson University with a major in Environmental and Natural Resources with a concentration in Conservation Biology. This is her second SCA internship in the Southwest.
Hi, I am originally from Minnesota but graduated from Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA with a degree in Environmental Studies. This is my second SCA internship, but my first experience in the Grand Canyon National Park. I am excited to learn about the plants, wildlife, and environmental issues specific to the Grand Canyon.
Greetings. My name is Molly, and I am an Indiana native who has an affinity for Arizona deserts and SCA crews. This is my second season with the SCA Native Plant Corps. I studied Ecology at Purdue University and hope to continue to learn about people and their relationship with our surrounding flora.
|Grand Canyon Spring Team|
|Week 10: Working hard|
|Week 11: A week in the life of a VERY busy crew...|
|Week 12: Surprise salvage and other goodies|
|Week 8: Success and Goodbyes|
|Week 5: Earth Day week|
|Week 7: Cynthia leads the team to victory|
|Week 6: ACE week|
|Week 4: Volunteers are fun|
|Week 3: Learning the Sites|
|Week 1-2: SCA Training and SCA Spring Break|