Camp Salmen by Alex Price

This past week Louisiana Conservation Corps spent five days repairing boardwalks at Camp Salmen Nature Park. It was a beautiful park and LaCC had a fun time with the job. It was tricky getting some of the boards out of boardwalks and LaCC had to be creative in our ways of removing them without damaging other boards.
The park was very beautiful and was teeming with wildlife. LaCC saw a variety of baby and adult turtles resting on the knees of cypresses. Crew members saw some skinks crossing our paths as we worked, like the broad headed skink. We even caught some glimpse of snakes, a cottonmouth and a rat snake. The team had a fun time trying to identify different animals we saw in our time there.
The park staff was really welcoming and accommodating. We had great project partners who came out to help us rip up and cut boards. They were very helpful in transporting tools and supplies to the job sites. They even gave us some tours of the park on our breaks. Overall it was a great week and a great way to start off our first hitch since coming back from our Florida deployment.

Screenshot 2018-04-16 07.48.02

Florida Deployment by James Turowsky

Hello Blog Readers,

For the past six weeks we’ve been on deployment in Polk County, Florida. There we served people who were still in need of assistance from Hurricane Irma that struck the area last September. We provided services to homeowners, such as tarping for damaged roofs, debris removal, muck and gutting of materials inside the home damaged by water, and mold suppression. My specific job was as the operations and safety chief. My duties were to contact homeowners about what services they were in need of and to schedule when our crews could come out to complete the jobs for them. I’d also update information such as when work was completed and what safety measures should be followed for the operational period. Overall I really learned a lot from this deployment developing skills that will be really beneficial both professionally and for life in general. We had plenty of time to bond more as a team and learn more about each other, along with the members from the other conservation corps that served with us. Thanks for reading!

James Turowsky

 

Chainsaw Training by Grant Smith

For this week, LaCC went to two separate locations. First, on Monday, we returned to the Kisatchie National Forest where we were stationed the prior week. There, we earned our certification to fell trees on national land. We stayed there for two more days, cutting down various invasive species.

We returned to Baton Rogue on Wednesday. The following day, we rode over to Cypress Island, a beautiful nature preserve with one of the largest cypress trees in the world. We stayed along a trail next to a lake, cutting down more invasive trees. After another two days of working, we returned home.

Kisatchie National Forest: Hitch 1

LaCC 2018

FIRST HITCH

               We are starting our 1700 hr term together in Louisiana 2018. LaCc crew is the first of it’s kind here in Louisiana. We started our first hitch in the kisatchie national forest. We had been training in the office alot so getting out into the field was so great.

The drive out was a few hours, our new crew arrived in a nearby city to get our groceries together for our first hitch. After that we arrived at kisatchie where we met up with our project partner Dave Moore. The other crew TxCC that we were supposed to work with got lost on the way and ended up at a fire hydrant. Dave showed our crew a prairie and what we would be doing during our hitch which was girdling trees, to preserve prairies. We then went back and set up camp and cooked dinner in the dark which didnt go so smooth the first night many of us forgot our plates and were not as prepared for eating in the dark. We figured it out together though!The stars were so beautiful at night as were the sunsets and sunrises and the views in general! Our first morning we met with Texas crew and dave moore, and went over our Potential hazard analysis forms as we streched together for the day! We all caught on to girdling trees pretty fast, it was chopping with hatchets  and our wrists were all tired and we all came across so many vines with thorns. We started our days with breakfast and packing our lunches then rode in the van to our location where we did PT and hiked to our worksite . Our chores were split up and rotated into groups.

After our third day we were loving our first hitch Dave Moore had taught us alot on our nature hikes to the prairies. He taught us about the history of the forest, the soil, the plants, the wildlife and so much more.We found a deer carcus that we named dead fred, dave took a nap next to him in the prairie. The nights were alot colder then anticipated! Getting to work with TxCC was a very great learning experience, we got to compare interests, differences and much more. There was a lesson learned about microagressions in a game of cards against humanity played between the crews(which I won by the way). We spent half a day working through the rain, what a challenge! I got sick and luckily there were flood warnings so we got a short day! Living in the forest for 10 days at a time was so interesting. We were getting in touch with nature although we were lucky enough to have a walmart nearby and access to a cabin that we let TxCC use instead of us; a few of our members{(including me) took advantage of this luxury a few nights though} there was a bathroom with a shower and a great kitchen! Our nights after girdling trees we spent alot of time around the campfire! Jones played guitar and we all got to share stories and bond together with smores! Lyric and John did such a great job guiding us through our first hitch they definitely made us feel safe and kept us organized and in check! We had cell service, well somewhat, but we definitely got to be disconnected from civilization and society for a while it was very intreaging!

Dave Moore seemed to really enjoy having us, he arranged for some speakers. Two employees got to educate us about their positions in the forest, their line of work, and how they got to where they are. Betsy from the NWTF spoke to us along with Alan who worked for the forest services, they both seemed to really love what they do which is so inspiring and motivating. Dave seemed to be so very enthusiastic about how great the opportunities that americorps opens up for us, it was so encouraging. We also got to hear from Chris who works with dave as well.

After finishing the first few big prairies, the smaller ones seemed to go faster and faster each time. TxCc got lost in the forrest a few times but we seemed to get very familuar with kisatchie! TxCc’s van looked like ours and our van (good old ‘VanWilder) seemded to be familar and comfortable at the end of every work day. Our crew got to bond with TxCc over work and on our freetime around the fire where we shared scary  stories with fajita/burrito night.

Keith visited us and brought chainsaws which the crewleads got to use. Girdling trees became very instinctive but the trees with butts sucked! so the chainsaws helped quite a bit! As our hitch winded down to an end we were all tired worn out and ready to go home! It was sucha great experience and i think we are all pretty excited for many hitches to come! Also we now now how to prepare for our next hitches!

Elizabeth Henderson

Camp Eagle Crew Leader Training

For most jobs, training usually involves hours of looking at TV screen while your 1990s era host tells lectures on proper workplace ergonomics.  Luckily for future TxCC Crew Leaders that type of training is kept to a minimum.  Instead we got to spend three days with staff at Camp Eagle getting a refresher course in rock work (There may be a few future trail dogs among us yet), bonding around the campfire, and workshopping how to handle difficult workplace situations.

Our time in the Texas’ Hill Country was certainly too short.  We came together as a group and learned a lot about leading in the process (The provided dinners and heated yurts were appreciated as well).  We’re looking forward to seeing our crew members in a little less than a month’s time.

John Andrews – LaCC Crew Leader