Sam Houston National Forest

Blue Crew had an interesting start to our first real hitch outside of training for the conservation side of our term. We came in off of our break post Hurricane Michael deployment with our Crew Leader snowed in out of state. We were all excited for the opportunity to step up and take initiative on a project regardless. Having loaded up the trailer, double checking that we hadn’t forgot anything, we headed towards the Sam Houston National Forest.

The GPS landed us in the wrong spot to begin with, trying to take us to the Ranger Station, instead of our campground, but finally we found our way to the beautiful Double Lake Campground. The host greeted us, and directed us to our site while we waited for our point of contact for the Forest Service to arrive and take a look over what projects we had in store. He was a funny man, always cracking a joke. Provided us all with a copy of plans for filling in a lot of clay dirt around a series of campsites that had experienced
severe erosion. We started the next day, blasting through the first site. Halfway through the following day, and a little more than halfway through the next site, our Crew Leader arrived, and there was much rejoicing, hand shaking, back-clapping, and the like.

We continued plowing through our rehab of the campsites until we ran out of dirt. By that time, it was Saturday, and time for an REI sponsored volunteer event, in correlation with the National Forest Foundation. The plan was to remove a large swath
of brush that had taken over the backside of the dam nearby. The eastern director of the NFF showed up, bringing breakfast tacos and coffee, for which we were all immensely grateful. One volunteer showed up, and away we went, sawing and lopping the offending vegetation. That took less time than expected, so we went to start cleaning up brush around various camps, opening up more views to the little lake they surrounded. This is what occupied the majority of our remaining time of this hitch, the dirt to finish the remaining sites we were originally working on having not showed up.

Overall we maintained high spirits, enjoying our time in the majesty of the woods and water around us. Survived a couple of freezing nights, some thunderstorms, a sasquatch raid, and of course loud weekend campers. I can confidently say that we of the Blue Crew are excited for our next outing, and furthering the camaraderie that has been developing among us. Sounds like we are aiming back to Florida here in January, for another round of disaster deployment. I’m eager to get back and further serve those in need
there.

Samuel Martinich – Disaster Response Crew Member

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