Sunday, May 24, 2015

New season, new ranger district

"Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year"
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

I'm very excited about the 2016 season! I landed a spot in my first choice district which I picked for it's alpine mountain scenery, it's opportunities to learn new things/get new certifications and it's proximity to Al's district (now we are only 4 hours apart! Last year I had a very unusual schedule for a Wilderness Ranger and so I went 5 months without seeing was worth it because I love the job but it wasn't easy!) In addition to my regular ranger patrols I'll be helping out the trail crew, moving up a level in my crosscut saw certification, getting certified in chainsaw use (as I'll also sometimes be helping the trail crew out on non-Wilderness trails), getting my "Forest Protection Officer" training (ability to write people tickets), get my "Red Card" (so I can help fight wildland fires), I will probably also get to staff the fire lookout on our district (!!!!) when lightning is forecasted and may even get to learn how to ride a dirt bike and shadow the OHV/motorized trails rangers. I'm going to get to do a lot this summer and I'm so excited to learn new things and see new mountains and Wilderness!

I've only been here one week but I already went to a crosscut saw training/certification where I got to meet a bunch of other Wilderness/trails folk from around the forest. I love going to things like that. It's great to be around other people who are passionate about Wilderness and trails... it's like finding long lost family.

On Thursday I went out with our noxious weed guy and look for and document invasive plants. We hiked along the Pacific Crest Trail and then cut over traveling cross-country to an old logging road. On forest lands noxious weeds are most liable to spread on those roads as opposed to trails because of all the vehicles that can carry dirt and seeds. It was nice to get out on the trail and learn some new plants.
Joe our ranger district's noxious weed guy references his weed guide on the trail

Orange hawkweed...we spent the day looking for and documenting these invasive plants

 Headed east from Snoqualmie Pass

We traveled off-trail to get from the PCT to the old logging road. It put us in this old clear-cut, you can tell where the clear-cut was made in this photo because of the shift in height of the trees.

It's going to be a great year. Everyone in my district seems happy and supportive of each other and the trails folk I'll be working around all seem very cool and fun.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Ode to the off-season

 "You can not do a kindness too soon for you never know when it will be too late"
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

So like the majority of people who work for the Forest Service, my job is seasonal. This has to do with the federal budget not allocating enough money to pay people for the entire year but is also due to the fact that many of the places I patrol are under snow for the other half the year and rather inaccessible and visitation is very low compared to summer time. So here's an ode to ranger related work I did this off-season.

I helped out my friend Hummingbird who helps manage the Girl Scouts Nor-Cal camp properties. We did trail work at Camp Bothin which I actually attended as a camper back in the mid-90s! We had new trail construction, mitigating a trail washout/erosion and also some stair projects. I learned a lot. I had never made trail steps with wood before, only with rock so that was different. We had fun!
scratching in the new trail construction

before and after of one of our stair projects

Hummingbird at the bottom of one of our stair projects

My good friend Robin is working on her master's thesis and her field experiment has to do with testing a method of controlling an invasive plant called Sesbania without herbicide. I went with her a few times to help out, her test sites are along the San Joaquin river. We counted and measured the plants on the test plots where they were growing back. We also collected and counted seeds in the soil around the plants.
Robin carrying the soil sieve she made for us to sift seeds

one of the sesbania plants
this is after we dug out the area around it to sift for seeds

I also had some contract work for GirlVentures which is an awesome organization that leads outdoor adventure/education trips for middle school girls. I got to help girls learn to rock climb and lead them in team-building, confidence building and outdoor ethics activities. In addition to those things I also spent some time helping friends with their own projects...hanging dry wall for a friend's home improvement project and weeding and cleaning another friend's home. I like to be productive and since I'm not always great at socializing it helps me with anxiety. Of course there was plenty of time spent climbing, hiking and backpacking too!