Texas Conservation Corps and Bastrop – 3.0

Hello all,

  Y’all can call me Flo, also to be known as the commentator affiliated with the wonderful team which is Purple Crew. So far during these last 12 days we have seen 9 total members and 2 crew leads by the name of Nate and Molly. We have expanded and shrunk in anticipation and we closed the third week knowing what our crew would look like for the rest of the year.

Throughout it all we had constant progress from the start: being a shakey, confused, less efficient group of individuals to a team that eventually had our flow so down pat that we fed off our energy, our movements mimicking a water fall. Our project encompassed planting (just shy of) 20,000 lost pines with our amazing sponsors at Treefolks by the names of Matt Mears and Paul Schuman in Bastrop, TX. These gentlemen facilitated as we planted exactly 19,038 trees in 32.83 acres over residential areas devastated by fire.

With an average of 1586.5 trees per day we were rocking and a-rolling with high hopes and good spirits on our first project. Of course, with this being our first scenario coming together as a team we had a few concerns for our future voyages and worries about goals still left to accomplish. But the opportunity to interact with the community there in Bastrop settled our nerves as we recognized how grateful and welcoming our work was in the community. Through this experience I feel as if we were pumped up enough to conquer anything handed our way. Our attitude will remain unyielding as we push through increasingly difficult trials that will ultimately merge us all. We will continue to be fueled by the basis of a better tomorrow for our generation and for those in the future.

With steep goals and aspirations we hope to gain the choice to never have to go back to a desk job, to become self-sufficient, to build ourselves mentally and physically, and most importantly, to lift up our fellow comrade in a true test of working outside of your comfort box while also simultaneously being able to freely communicate within a group.

We know our crew leads are here to put everything out on the line for these projects and we are preparing to step up to the plate and exceed expectations. We are ready. We are strong. We are one.

Folasade Ogunfiditimi, Field Crew Member

Texas Conservation Corps Takes Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge ( or: Yaupon, More Like no-pon!)

Day 1: Lean Mean Green Bean Machine (LMGBM) arrives at Attwater Prairie Chicken National Wildlife Refuge, armed with chainsaws, backpack sprayers, loppers, brushcutters, and the drive to save the critically endangered Attwater Prairie Chicken. The habitat of these unique birds is also endangered. Once stretching from Louisiana to Texas, the coastal prairie habitat is now reduced to less than 1% of its original grandeur.

 

Day 2: Waking up before the sunrise, LMGBM prepares for their first full day of work on the prairie. After receiving some lore about the prairie chicken and the reserve itself, we venture out onto the prairie with brushcutters in hand to begin removing the native but invasive shrubby species that enable birds of prey to have an unnatural advantage against the prairie chicken.

 

Day 3: LMGBM brings out the big guns (chainsaws) to more efficiently combat the invasive yaupon and baccharis species. After an extremely productive chainsaw morning, we break for a well deserved lunch and get back to the daily grind of saving critically endangered species.

 

Day 4: Prairie chickens sited! On a foggy, ominous morning, our spirits were low but expectations of prairie chicken sightings were high. These majestic creatures are keen on practicing their mating dance, called “booming,” on days such as this because they are less easily spotted by predators. With orange air sacs inflated, ear feathers up, feet stomping, and mating calls echoing across the prairie, about ten males and females dramatically emerged from the fog to display their dance for us.

 

Day 5: After the prairie chicken siting, we have renewed enthusiasm and vigor for destroying yaupon. LMGBM also start showing signs of reverting to a more primitive state. We have forgotten the sounds of the city and hustle and bustle of metropolitan life. We have only one thing on our minds: saving the Attwater Prairie Chicken.

 

Day 6: LMGBM makes a brief return to civilization (and Mexican food). While fueling up on chips and salsa, tacos, and enchiladas, we hear rumors of the infamous Prairie Joe, a local enigma who lives off the unforgiving prairie. Many and more mysteries are solved.

 

Day 7: Our chainsaw and herbicide application skills have dramatically improved. This stuff is now second nature. We realize we were born to do this work.

 

Day 8: Compared to P-Day (Prairie arrival day), we are seeing the fruits of our labor across many acres of prairie. Where there was once yaupon dotting the horizon, there is now only fair and native grasses blowing gently in the breeze, providing an ideal home for the prairie chicken.

 

Day 9: Evidence of Prairie Joe found. Perhaps we are not alone.

 

Day 10: Last full day of work. We feast on a delicious potluck prepared by our gracious hosts at the reserve. With very full bellies, we return triumphantly to our last afternoon of destruction. Dedication blazes in the eyes of every LMGBM member as we work late to leave our final positive impact on the land. Yaupon is no match for the LMBGM.

 

Day 11: We return to TxCC (Snake Farm), victorious and closer than ever as a crew/family. We have conquered 370 acres of prairie, enabling the majestic Attwater Prairie Chicken to live and boom on in their restored natural habitat for years to come. You can put that on yo’ toast.

Ariana Lisefski, Field Crew Member