Tuolumne River Trust receives AmeriCorps accolades.
We are excited to announce that Tuolumne River Trust was visited by the head of AmeriCorps, Chester Spellman (all the way from Washington D.C.!) and given accolades for being the best NCCC program in the region! Our SNAP members Ariel Bohr and Ellyse Varone worked with the NCCC crews on Rim Fire restoration work in the Tuolumne River watershed.
They are proud to have accepted the AmeriCorps NCCC Pacific Region Class 24 Sponsor of the Year award on behalf of their partners at the U.S. Forest Service-Stanislaus National Forest, the Tuolumne County Resource Conservation District (TCRCD), Rush Creek Lodge at Yosemite, and Family Camp Yosemite.
There are many worthy organizations who partner with this program, and Tuolumne River Trust is grateful for the efforts of all the young people who serve them in it, as well as the amazing staff at their regional headquarters.
NCCC has been the backbone of our Rim Fire restoration efforts, and they have helped to recruit and manage over 2,800 volunteers from the local community and all over North America for TRT's service projects since March of 2015. In doing so, they have supported the efforts of the work TRT does on behalf of organizations such as the National Forest Foundation, the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, and the California Wildlife Conservation Board.
Tuolumne River Trust is especially glad to have celebrated this day with their most recent team, Sierra Nevada AmeriCorps Partnership members who worked so hard to help lead their project, and George Hernandez, a former NCCC member that served with the Trust before working for us last year, who was recognized as the Class 24 Alum of the Year for his work leading hurricane recovery projects in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
SNAP Spotlight: Maura Uebner at USFS
The Feather River Ranger District (FRRD) office of the Plumas National Forest is home to Maura Uebner, one of three SNAP members stationed in Oroville. Maura graduated from UC Berkeley in 2017, with a BA in Geology, and minor in Geospatial Information Science and Technology (GIS). Growing up, she and her parents went on many road trips to state and national parks, sparking a curiosity about the landscape surrounding her. She was raised outside of Sacramento, and spent time with family in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada during the summers. When it came time to find a job, Maura was drawn to SNAP due to the public service aspect of the program, as well as its location in the mountains she holds so close to her heart.
Maura serves as a Natural Resource Assistant for the FRRD. Prior to her arrival, she had no idea the Forest Service employed more than just foresters! During her term, she has had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of resource specialists, including wildlife biologists, botanists, hydrologists, archaeologists, fuels specialists, recreation staff, and of course, foresters. The types of work have been dictated by the season. She caught the tail end of the field season when she started in October, which quickly transitioned into a winter spent primarily on GIS projects, organizing an outreach event, and occasional trips to monitor snow recreation.
Spring brought interpretive planning for both a guided hike and development of a new recreation site sign, as well as a gradual transition into fieldwork. The bulk of the fieldwork consists of surveys within the footprints of future timber sales. The Forest Service manages land for multiple uses, including wildlife habitat, recreation, and timber production. Surveys are done to record the locations of sensitive plant and animal species, archaeological sites, and streams, to ensure that protection measures are established when harvesting takes place. Additionally, timber projects often incorporate fuel reduction measures such as hand-cutting and piling of ladder fuels, or mastication, which reduces fire risk for communities nestled within forested areas. Given that demand for wood and paper products isn’t likely to disappear any time soon, timber production, combined with fuel reduction and mandated resource protection, can play an integral role in the management of healthy forests.
Currently, archaeological field surveys and site monitoring occupy the majority of Maura’s time, and they will be her focus until the end of her service term. Working with the archaeology crew has been mutually beneficial: she helps them get work done faster, and they often ask questions about local geology and rock types, which she loves to answer! She enjoys the opportunity to do so much fieldwork — it has provided an excellent opportunity to spend time outside and to get to know this part of the Sierras better. Her ecological knowledge has been greatly broadened beyond just geology. Furthermore, working with a federal agency has provided valuable insight for the the direction she would like her career to take. Following the end of her term, Maura will be headed across the country to Charleston, SC. She will be working as a Hydrologic Technician with the US Geological Survey (a geologist’s dream)! Although she is sad to leave mountainous Northern California, she is incredibly excited for the opportunity, and grateful for the guidance she has received throughout her SNAP term from program staff and Forest Service coworkers.
SNAP Spotlight: Lucy Haworth & Peter Brown
Lucy Haworth grew up in the Sierra Nevada foothills east of Sacramento. During her youth she developed a love for the Sierra as she spent her days skiing, camping, and exploring. After completing her bachelor's degree in Environmental Management at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, she was thrilled to learn about the SNAP program and immediately knew that she had to apply. She accepted a position working for the California Department of Parks and Recreation in Oroville and has been loving exploring the north state and helping protect its natural resources ever since. Peter Brown graduated in music from Boston University in 2015, and spent his first two years after college in Germany, where he taught English as a second language. Upon his return to the US, he decided to focus his energies on his long-held passion for the environment. This led him to the SNAP program, where he now works side-by-side with Lucy on projects involving invasive species control and natural habitat restoration.
In the fall Lucy began working under her supervisor as the lone member of the natural resources field crew. Much of her time was spent working on invasive plant control. She was trained in herbicide application and honed her skills in plant identification so that she could help rid the parks of non-native species. Her work wasn’t all killing plants however. Lucy was also able to help with several restorations, learnt to survey conifer trees, and even helped with a controlled burn. This work took her all over northern California, from the Sierra foothills to Clear Lake to near Mount Shasta. The work was satisfying but being alone in the field was challenging and lonely at times; Lucy became an avid consumer of podcasts with nobody to talk to. It was just her luck that halfway through her term another SNAP member was hired to work alongside her, Peter Brown.
Since arriving on the scene in April, Peter has worked with Lucy on a wide array of conservation projects for the Parks. In April and May he helped to restore natural vegetation to a patch of Clear Lake State Park that had previously been used to cultivate grapes for a winery, and cleared French and Scotch Broom along the banks of Lake Oroville. More recently, he has traveled with Lucy to Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park to map and control Spotted Knapweed and Yellow Star Thistle, and has spent a great deal of time in the Colusa and Woodson Bridge State Parks working to contain a rash of invasive fig trees. For the last few weeks, Peter has also lent a hand to the Sierra Nevada Alliance headquarters in helping to plan their upcoming yearly conference in Lake Tahoe.
SNAP Spotlight: Taylor Faye Benedict and Parker Flickinger – American River Conservancy
Taylor Faye Benedict majored in Environmental Science with a focus on ecological restoration from Humboldt State University in May of 2017. After graduation, she was looking to gain experience in the field and make lasting professional references and resources when she was referred to ARC by a retired watershed council director. She reached out to the American River Conservancy to gather more information about the restoration work they do locally and ended up getting hired. Rather than the usual path of becoming an AmeriCorps member, being accepted into the SNAP program and then vying for a spot at the host site, she knew she wanted to work for ARC and then got involved with SNAP. Since joining the program, Taylor Faye has been very excited to be a part of this partnership and being able to take part in making a difference throughout California. She loves the opportunity to work with so many people that share a love of protecting natural resources and the great outdoors.
Parker Flickinger graduated from Southern Oregon University with a degree in Environmental Science and Policy. Parker was introduced to the SNAP program by his department chair. Hoping to continue his professional development, he eagerly applied. In school, Parker learned his passions lay not only in experiencing and studying nature, but also teaching other people about nature and science. As ARC’s Education Coordinator, Parker is constantly using both of these skills. He enjoys all the tasks assigned to him and how his job offers him the freedom to try different approaches to his assignments.
Major projects for the stewardship branch at ARC include continually working on our Giving Garden and native plant demonstration garden out at Wakamatsu Farm, sowing seasonally appropriate produce to donate to our local soup kitchen and food bank and tending to the variety of native grasses, shrubs and trees. For the past few months, Taylor Faye and volunteers have been working on restoring the riparian corridor off of the emergency spillway and the ~1 mile-long trail that circles the lake at Wakamatsu with native tree plantings and native wildflowers. Near Pollock Pines, we work on continual habitat improvement for red-legged frogs with volunteers helping in removing stubborn Himalayan blackberry bushes and planting natives to help control erosion on the steep banks and to keep invasive spread to a minimum. ARC has also been in the process of creating a multi-use public trail near Salmon Falls Ranch which included planting 70 oak trees and preparing and maintaining a ~mile long trail that we are calling the Acorn Creek Trailhead. American River Conservancy is hosting a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the public trail on May 4th.
Wakamatsu Farm host many different resources, from its history as North America’s first Japanese Colony to the migrating birds at its pond. In addition to its giving garden, Wakamatsu is leased to two farmers. Children of all ages come take field trips to Wakamatsu. These field trips are tailored to the needs and desires of each age group. For example, younger students may have a field trip focused more on the wild animals while older students may learn more about the Japanese immigrant history. Parker has been helping manage the Wakamatsu field trip program.
So far for her term, Taylor Faye’s favorite contribution to ARC is helping write a management plan for one of the local ranches which includes a botanical survey of native plants growing on the property. She eagerly looks forward to its completion. During the early spring, SNAP members Taylor Faye and Parker worked alongside American River Conservancy’s Stewardship Director Elena DeLacy to teach a naturalist certification course to better acquaint the community with local varieties of plants and wildlife. ARC hosted the semi-final for Nature Bowl, a California state-wide student natural science competition in late April. Parker prepared for this event by registering teams from the local schools. American River Conservancy also runs nature camp, a 4-week program during the summer where children get exposed to the natural world and are introduced to basic aquatic ecology and wildlife biology. Parker and Taylor Faye also plan to take part in the Great Sierra River Cleanup, along with several smaller river clean ups with community members to clean out old debris and junk left in the American River.
Having SNAP members hosted at American River Conservancy has allowed this small non-profit organization to accomplish more within the community both in the education and stewardship realms. With a full-time staff of only 6 people, having two more competent full time people to be extra hands, voices and bodies can make a world of difference. Both Parker and Taylor Faye help diversify ARC with their own individual passions they bring to the organization. Parker is currently the education coordinator and without his help our involvement with school programs and public education for children would be much less than American River Conservancy strives for. Taylor Faye loves to work with plants and has many goals for the future Wakamatsu Giving garden, including an interpretive plant map that would aid visitors in a self-guided naturalist walk around the lake at Wakamatsu. The motto of AmeriCorps is ‘Get things done’ and that’s exactly what Taylor Faye and Parker plan on doing this term!
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