FOSTERING CONSERVATION SERVICE IN SUPPORT OF COMMUNITIES + ECOSYSTEMS
TABLE OF CONTENTS 3 Impact 5 Creating Opportunity in Outdoor Spaces 7 Burning Bright 9 Finding the Future in Acoma Youth 11 Lovin' Our Parks 13 Volunteer Voices 15 Geoscientistis-in-theParks 17 Historic Preservation Training Center 18 Technical Rock Work in the San Juan 19 Partners in Service
2019 began as a year of transformation. We began by tapping into the knowledge of our staff, Board of Directors and key stakeholders, taking a hard look internally and externally. We've examined our internal organizational structure, our brand, our partnerships, project work, impact, communities, the populations that we engage and our vision. It was all hands on deck, no stone left unturned. It is from this foundation that we step into the coming years. We also celebrated many accomplishments over the past year, including new affinity crew program models, strengthening of our individual placement programs, new partnerships, welcoming new staff and putting over 2,400 boots on the ground. As one of the top conservation organizations in the country with a strong reputation among partners for high-quality programs, Conservation Legacy is uniquely positioned to develop and empower the next generation of conservation leaders. The corps community has long been steeped in strong traditions, deep care for our environment and the unique opportunity to grow and learn through outdoor experiences. We honor this foundation, while recognizing if we are to achieve our shared vision, we must adapt to meet the pace that our climate and our cultures are changing.
Southeast Conservation Corps' inaugural American Sign Language Inclusion crew in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
In the upcoming years you will see Conservation Legacy as a leader in our fieldâ€”increasing the presence of historically underrepresented populations among Corps, facilitating an adaptable, innovative culture and increasing our positive impact on people and places. Today, the Conservation Legacy team is moving forward with renewed energy and optimism. It is our deep care for the environment, the communities in which we work and the people who make our programs possible that strengthen our organization. We are prepared to pivot and innovate to take on opportunities and challenges that lay ahead. We are confident our mission is more crucial than ever. Thank you to our partners, funders, volunteers and staff for being part of our work. It is because of your dedication, support and insight that what you read in the following pages is made possible. Rob Spath, Chief Executive Officer
With reverence and respect, we acknowledge the indigenous land on which our program offices are located: Acoma Pueblo Cherokee Cheyenne Chiricahua Apache Hopi Mescalero Apache Moneton Monocan Navajo Pueblo Salish Kootenai Tohono Oâ€™odham Ute White Mountain Apache Yuchi Zuni
Does not identify male or female
GENDER Non-Hispanic/ Non-Latino
Prefer not to answer
American Indian or Alaskan Native
Prefer not to answer
More than one
Black/ African American
THE EXPERIENCE: SAM GOLD, CREW MEMBER, APPALACHIAN CONSERVATION CORPS “I have seen my service translate to a better National Forest trail system and seeing people enjoy my work makes me feel proud and fulfilled.” DIEGO ROMERO, CREW MEMBER, SOUTHWEST CONSERVATION CORPS "If there is one thing that being in the SCC has taught me, it is responsibility. The physical activity has increased my endurance. When I first started I couldn’t go five minutes without stopping. But now I can hike one mile in fifteen minutes. The ones who kept me going were Lane and Kiersten, my helpful crew leaders, who never let me give up. If I do join next session I will do it for more learning and to lose more weight. But, overall I really enjoyed my time at SCC and I hope to do it next year."
During the 2019 fiscal year, Conservation Legacy facilitated an economic impact of $2,515,509 in Americorps Education Awards and $13,611,134 in living stipends for participants and leaders. 102,746 hours were spent on education and training, developing the next generation workforce.
FINANCIALS: Total Revenue: $28,088,935
Total Expenses: $27,736,018
RACHEL SCHMITZER, RESOURCE ASSISTANT, GUNNISON NATIONAL FOREST “I’ve acquired so many new perspectives and experiences that I deeply value and will continue to explore. My work for the Forest Service has allowed me to better understand what it takes to manage the wild ecosystems. I’m very interested in continuing to be a steward for our natural public resources and using my skills to help others enjoy and care for our communal lands.” FRANK GONZALES, VFC CREW MEMBER, ARIZONA CONSERVATION CORPS “National service means working to improve the environment around you, whatever that is. I know that the work we did will help prevent fires in the future. I got to give back and preserve natural resources.”
Total Expenses By Program:
Stewards Individual Placements: $8,533,413 Southwest Conservation Corps: $7,763,953 Arizona/Conservation Corps New Mexico: $6,017,971 Appalachian Conservation Corps: $1,175,148 Southeast Conservation Corps: $1,157,515 Preserve America Youth Summits: $231,164 Other shared expenses: $2,856,854
JASON NEEL, USFS TRAIL CREW LEADER, GILA NATIONAL FOREST “The crew exhibited professionalism and enthusiasm for the diverse projects they completed this season, all of which were demanding in unique ways. I was confident that I could assign them a variety of tasks and that those tasks would be completed in an efficient manner. They accomplished an immense amount of work in the process. CCNM has been an asset to this forest’s trail program.” 4
Creating Opportunity in Outdoor Spaces The Southeast's first American Sign Language Inclusion program
It’s a typical summer day
in Tennessee—hot and bright, with just enough humidity to remind you it could rain at any moment. And the Southeast Conservation Corps (SECC) trail crew wielding loppers and saws and heading out to work on Chestnut Mountain appears typical too—but they all have something in common that’s not immediately apparent: each member of the crew has hearing difficulties. They represent a range in abilities from mild or moderate hearing loss to no functional hearing at all. These are the members of SECC’s first ever American Sign Language inclusion (ASLi) crew. Brenna Kelly, Director of SECC, decided to look into developing a crew model that would serve the deaf and hard of hearing (D/HH) community just over two years ago. “We were already running a successful Youth Conservation Corps program,” she said, “and it was time to expand it to include a more diverse spectrum of participants in order to bring needed equity and inclusion to SECC, as well as the greater field of conservation and land stewardship.” Although SECC isn’t the first corps to run a deaf inclusion crew, the model is the first of its kind in the Southeast region of the country. Through interactions with members from the deaf community, Brenna learned that “employment opportunities for D/HH youth and adults are very minimal compared to hearing individuals. 5 9
Many D/HH youth graduate from high school and enter the work force with limited to no work experience.” Recognizing the opportunity to offer unique experiences to an under-served local community and knowing she wanted to create a conservation crew model to engage them, Brenna reached out to CorpsTHAT for assistance with program model development. CorpsTHAT is an organization that provides support services and programs that create more inclusive spaces in the outdoors for the deaf community. “We could not have run our ASLi program without them—nor should we have,” Brenna said. “There is no one on SECC’s staff that is deaf, so it seemed inappropriate to assume SECC could implement this program model without a partnering organization from the deaf community to assist us.” To prepare for the inaugural ASLi crews, Brenna also took ASL classes in order to learn the language and better understand the community. She wanted to be able to communicate with the members and leaders she was about to recruit and acknowledged that she couldn’t build relationships if she couldn’t speak to them. SECC ran two separate ASLi crews for youth aged 16-19 in the summer of 2019. The sessions each lasted for three weeks, and members camped for the duration. Camping equipment and all meals were provided, as well as a weekly stipend. Monday through Friday crews worked on conservation projects, and during the weekend they relaxed and did recreational activities. The ASLi program aims to provide its members the opportunity to experience work outside of traditional employment opportunities for deaf people. The program places members and leaders in a cohort that provides the comfort and safety net of working alongside D/ HH peers while gaining experience in an industry that historically hasn’t included them. “I applied for this program because they expect a lot from you here,” signed ASLi crew member Trei Lutes-Stein. “They push you; they show you good leadership, and they put you into situations that you can grow from. At home, it’s the same old thing, but here, it’s different. I go through a lot, it’s tough work. I believe this will push me to have a good future and to be successful.”
At home, it's the same old thing, but here, it's different. Crews that break the traditional corps model and seek to include members that share a common demographic are often referred to as ‘single-identity’ or affinity crews. SECC’s ASLi crew falls into this category. Single-identity crew models can sometimes be contentious. Some believe that they create a space where those members can feel safe, accepted, and understood, thus acting as a bridge between an under-served community and the outdoor industry. However, others believe that they don’t foster diversity because they sequester the marginalized groups that comprise them. But that’s the point, explains Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin of DEI consulting group Avarna, in a blog post on the group’s website. “Single-identity spaces are not diverse, and that is by design. If we want to include marginalized communities in this movement that we call “conserva-
tion” and “recreation,” equity demands that we support their being able to gather in spaces created for them and by them.” SECC is currently working to obtain funding for additional ASLi crew sessions in the summer of 2020. The success of the first two sessions has given staff insight on what worked well and what can be improved next year. Trinity Arreola, one of the ASLi crew members, expressed that while she appreciated learning about new tools and experiencing conservation work during her session, there was more to the program than that. “It’s also about learning respect and leadership and showing good work ethic. It’s about finding yourself. Finding your identity; who you are.” Establishing innovative program models like ASLi is an example of how conservation corps can be an example for the communities they work in. Brenna's advice for other corps that want to start single-identity crews? “Be humble. Seek invested and knowledgeable partners from within the community. Collaborate. Be flexible, sincere, and patient. Accept that it costs more and plan for that as best you can. Do it!”
Burning Bright The Veterans Fire Corps celebrates 10 years of operation and impact
Millions of acres burn every
begins at Colorado Firecamp. Established in 2002, Colorado Firecamp is a nonprofit wildland firefighter school that offers basic 100- and 200-level courses developed by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. Courses focus on leadership, incident command, and fire suppression skills. Graduates are eligible to receive a red card, which qualifies them to fight wildfires.
Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) worked in partnership with state and federal agencies like the National Park Service, US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Americorps, and others to establish the Veterans Fire Corps (VFC) in 2009. The program engages recent-era Veterans on a variety of fire suppression projects and helps to develop the next generation of the nation’s wildland firefighters.
Over 400 Veterans have completed seasons with Conservation Legacy through VFC programming since Southwest Conservation Corps supported the inaugural program back in 2009. In early March of 2019, Southwest Conservation Corps again broke new ground by sending the first Ancestral Lands VFC crew to Firecamp. The crew of Native Vets completed basic training led by Colorado River Wildland Division Chief Zach Pigati, and performed a small prescribed slash pile burn on a nearby property to culminate their field training.
year in wildfires across the country. Many are caused by human carelessness, but the steady increase of temperatures due to climate change is making forests drier and more prone to burning. When our homes and resources are threatened, we rely on wildland firefighters to manage the flames and protect our livelihoods.
Four of Conservation Legacy’s local programs currently operate VFC crews. For most of the members, their term of service 7
According to the National Interagency Fire Center in 2018, 8,582,609 acres were burned by 55,911 different wildfire starts throughout the United States, and 2019 predictions anticipate those numbers increasing. It’s important to remember that while they can at times be catastrophic, most wildfires are a natural part of many ecosystems, and—under normal conditions—are a healthy way for forests to self-regulate and periodically clear the dead growth in their understory. This process returns the nutrients in to the soil where they can then be reabsorbed, rather than trapping them in the dead plant matter. Some plants and trees actually require fire in order to reproduce. They rely on the extreme heat caused by forest fires to melt the resin that coats their fruits in order for the seedlings inside to be released. Species include lodgepole pine and manzanita, both of which grow in the southwestern region of the United States, where SCC operates. Unless wildfires are especially extreme or threatening cities or towns, they should be allowed to run their course. However, the positive outcomes of wildfires decrease when they are met with the effects of climate change. With temperatures rising and droughts lengthening,
Veterans Fire Corps Alumni “I came to VFC searching for something meaningful. I wasn’t happy. Our first week was spent getting red carded at Colorado Fire Camp. I can’t explain how incredible that week was. Amy took us on an early morning hike, racing the sunrise. We made it to a ridge that overlooked Mt. Shavano to the west and to our east was an orange horizon. She told us to drop packs and face the coming light. As we sat on our packs Amy read to us words that remain a permanent fixture in my mind. It was maybe the most beautiful morning of my life. We hiked down the ridge back to camp and I knew I had found the purpose of my life.
I knew I had found the purpose of my life. many fires are burning longer and hotter, and ecosystems are sometimes unable to regenerate after being scorched. “Annual moisture deficits were significantly greater from 2000 to 2015 as compared to 1985–1999, suggesting increasingly unfavorable post‐fire growing conditions, corresponding to significantly lower seedling densities and increased regeneration failure,” explains a 2017 publication of Ecology Letters. When fires encroach on property or resources, or threaten to burn out of control, wildland firefighters are ready to respond. Conservation Legacy VFC crews become quickly acquainted with the ‘grunt work’ that firefighting demands. They spend a lot of time clearing ground and ladder fuels—using chainsaws and hand tools to clear small trees, shrubs, and dead plant matter which can carry fire from the ground into the canopy and ignite deadly ‘crown fires’. Hazard fuel reduction is vital fire suppression work, and can also include tactics like thinning densely forested areas and limbing trees. Crews can also be mobilized on prescribed burns, and at times, initial fire attack.
It can be challenging to readjust to civilian life after military service. Many VFC crew members find the program to be a welcome bridge between their service and ‘normal’ life. Traditional jobs tend to lack the structure, camaraderie, and adrenaline rush that vets experience during their military career, which often leaves them feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled. “It’s taken me a long time to find something like this,” explained one VFC member while clearing ladder fuels in Coronado National Monument in Arizona. “For a lot of us—for warriors—it’s hard to transition into a behind-the-desk job. I know there are a lot of veterans out there who are looking for something to put themselves into that means something again…And this is really helpful for that.” Conservation Legacy is honored to be able to provide capacity at the local level to engage veterans in an opportunity of continued service. We continue to prioritize the experience and safety of the Veterans that serve in our VFC program, and maintain a humble respect for the destructive capability of wildfires while acknowledging their ecological importance.
Alex and I quickly discovered we shared a lot in common. At S-212 we were both itching to get out on a run. Finally we got permission after dinner to take off up the road and ended up on a trail that climbed in only one inclined direction. After perhaps 45 minutes we made it back to camp and gathered Ashlee to walk with us to the river. We walked down the road in the pitch dark, no headlamps on and I’ll never forget how beautiful that night was; how bright those stars were. We reached the river and Alex and I both swam in the already freezing September waters. We walked back to camp, becoming friends under a glorious night sky. A natural high. My last memory is something almost certainly shared by all of us. Our first burn. New Mexico. I didn’t know what burning piles would entail but as we began to set flame and advance on the side of a mountain the smoke quickly enveloped us. Ahead and below stretched a pristine meadow. Around me was giant Ponderosas. Above was blue sky. But behind was the source of that smoke, a mesmerizing inferno. It looked as if the entire forest would surely be enveloped. It was a beautiful terror, akin to a spiritual experience. The healing aspect of this apparent destruction was unmistakable. I’ve never felt more connected to our planet.” 8 12
Finding the Future in Acoma Youth Ancestral Lands' Acoma Hiking Club completes eighth consecutive year supporting youth, community and connection to the outdoors VERNON HOWEYA | ANCESTRAL LANDS CREW LEADER
The Pueblo of Acoma
is the oldest of the 19 pueblos of New Mexico, located approximately 50 miles west of Albuquerque. Like any other pueblo, Acoma is keeping up with modern times. However, if you head 30 miles South, you will find yourself in a whole different world—in the middle of a vast panoramic valley of beautiful sandstone rock formations and mesas that touch the clouds. Atop one of these monolithic mesas sits the oldest continually inhabited village in North America. Archaeologists estimate that it was established in around 1150 A.D. Known as Sky City, or in Keresan; “Haak'u,” the name translates in English as ‘a place prepared’. To the Northeast, you will find another ancestral homeland of Haak'u, known as “Ka’dziima,” or in English, Enchanted Mesa. Atop Haak'u, you will feel as if you were in another place, as if being on an island in the sky. You will see old homes, some three stories high and some older than the United States itself. All of the houses are traditional Pueblo homes, and most of them made from the same materials used by ancestors in the past: sandstone rocks, mud, straw, and beams made from ponderosa pine. To this day, Acoma Pueblo is still keeping up with their roots. There is no running water, electricity, or indoor plumbing in any of the homes. Traditions and ceremonies on Haak'u are still on-going and remain strong. Sacred leaders and their families remain on the mesa year-round, sacrificing and praying for their land, people, and animals as well as the people around the country, and are making preparations for a similar amount of 2019 placements.
But much has changed. Although Acoma and its people do their best to retain their language and culture for future generations, the current generation is leaning away from traditional ways and gaining more interest in modern technologies and American life. It’s sad that in the communities nowadays you see less children playing outside compared to past generations, who would enjoy spending their every last sunlight hour playing around the beautiful landscapes of Acoma. When children applied for the Hiking Club program, their parents were asked: “What would your child be doing for the summer, if there were no Hiking Club?” Many of the responses we heard were, “At home watching TV, playing video games, or on their phones.” Another response was, “There is nothing for them to do at home.” This loss makes the service that Acoma Hiking Club provides for the youth of its Pueblo even more necessary. This is the eighth consecutive year that Conservation Legacy’s Ancestral Lands program has operated the Hiking Club for the children of Acoma Pueblo. This year, the Club consisted of three groups of ten kids, ages eight to fifteen. They were super-
vised by two Hiking Club leaders four days out of the week, for two and a half weeks. Each day featured a hike in a new place. At the end of each term, the kids were rewarded with an overnight camping trip to someplace far away from home.
There is nothing for them to do at home.
The children hiked an average of 20 to 30 miles a week, and were encouraged to drink plenty of water since most of the hiking destinations didn’t have much shade. Lunch and snacks were provided, as well as a Camelbak water bag, which was given to them as an incentive: they could keep it as long as they completed at least 70% of the program. An Ancestral Lands Hiking Club t-shirt was also provided, so the kids could show their support of the program.
as Mesa Verde, Bandelier, Chaco Canyon, and El Morro National Monuments. Because of this, Acoma Pueblo has strong spiritual and historical ties to these places. While visiting these sites, children got the chance to experience the places behind the stories that their elders mentioned in their historical teachings. It was an incredible feeling to see their emotions, especially when they explored places they had never seen before. It was a good feeling of knowing that we had done our job. The Hiking Club gets better every year and gains its popularity from the children, especially when they share their experiences with friends and relatives. Many of Acoma’s youth are becoming disconnected from the joy of being outdoors, but this program helps to turn that around. The Hiking Club youth found plenty to do and were entertained once they were shown the beauty and natural wonders around them. They also found an understanding of the sacredness of their homeland, and the importance of preserving what Mother Nature provides so that it can be passed on to future generations to come.
It is well known that Acoma’s ancestors occupied the popular areas we know today
Lovin' Our Parks Conservation Legacy continues partnership with the National Park Foundation Exposure to the beauty and splendor of
National Parks can ignite a life-long interest in outdoor recreation. This exposure is more powerful when one experiences a place by contributing through stewardship to its improvement, knowing that it will always be a place for others to enjoy. Conservation Legacy is proud to be one of the leading corps partners of the National Park Foundation in their $3.5 million initiative to expand young diverse leaders’ capacity to help protect national parks, lift up communities, and gain in-demand job skills training through service corps programs. In 2019, with $584,000 in support from the National Park Foundation, Conservation Legacy engaged diverse populations and fielded single identity crews including an all-women’s crew and a Native conservation crew. These participants focused on reducing the maintenance backlog through trail and fence repair projects and engaged volunteers to work along with the crews during planned service days. Friends Groups, including the Shenandoah Trust and the Grand Canyon Conservancy contributed support for additional conservation crew projects for youth conservation corps and deferred maintenance projects. These projects will continue into the fall. In 2018, Conservation Legacy engaged 51 young Americans through paid service and volunteer stewardship projects through the newly launched Love Your Park Conservation Corps (LYPCC) program. The LYPCC’s purpose was to highlight, improve and preserve National Trails and provide unique visitor experiences. The projects and infrastructure improvements were identified by National Park Service as critical to visitor use, visitor safety and engagement of new visitors. Many of the youth in communities close to National Park Service locations do not experience these lands and locations. Paid service opportunities and volunteer days facilitated opportunities to connect communities and parks and gave young people a reason to return to the park(s) to show family and friends the projects they completed. Ancestral Lands, Appalachian Conservation Corps, Arizona Conservation Corps, Conservation Corps New Mexico, Southeast Conservation Corps and Stewards Individual Placements have supported projects, crews and individuals funded through the National Park Foundation.
Arizona Conservation Corps (AZCC) Ancestral Lands crew 366 spent the summer in Grand Canyon National Park for their three-month term of service.
Throughout their season,
this all-Native crew camped out on the South Rim, witnessed spectacular sunsets, and visited and worked in areas of the park that few ever get to see. Their work centered on restoring the National Park Service (NPS) boundary fence that encircles the park. In some areas, the fence was in such bad shape that they had to completely rebuild it. The park boundary fence, comprised simply of barbed wire, serves primarily to keep wild horses, burros, and other livestock from entering the park from nearby lands. The impacts of livestock crossing the fence-line are felt on both sides: sensitive areas of the park can be damaged by trampling hooves, native plants may be devoured, and visitors can be put at risk. Additionally, it is cost-prohibitive and at times impossible for the tribes living near the park to travel the long distances to round up their animals. Therefore, both the park and its neighbors benefit from a protective and sturdy boundary. “This work is very important,” emphasized Arizona Conservation Corps Operations Director Russ Dickerson. “And it couldn’t
happen without the park’s strong support of our Ancestral Lands crews, and without the generous funding we received from our partner the National Park Foundation.” Some areas of the boundary fence had not been maintained in years when the crew showed up to work on them. These backlogged repairs are part of a long list of deferred maintenance projects within the NPS system. Because of support from organizations like the National Park Foundation, conservation service programs like AZCC are able to hone-in on these critical backlog projects, filling a gap in capacity to address an important issue.
I felt like I was meant to be there.
Ty Polacca, a 21-year-old crew member from the Pueblo of Zuni, NM, explained that the fence reparation was “aesthetically pleasing work. It took a lot of concentration to get the right measurements and get the technique down, but it felt so satisfying seeing this perfect fence line stretching for miles after completing a section. It was a new experience for me—I’d never done that kind of work before. Learning how to use the different tools and about the different ecosystems within the park was really cool,” he said.
When the summer season had come to a close, the crew had completed 14 miles of fence inspection and maintenance. They rebuilt over a full mile of brand-new fence. But those hard numbers don’t illustrate the personal growth they experienced or portray the beauty they witnessed. “On the second hitch of our season, the entire crew went out to the rim and we saw this gorgeous sunset,” Ty recalled. “We stayed until it got dark. No one talked—we just appreciated where we were in that moment. I felt like I was meant to be there, like I chose the right path. I felt like I was where I was supposed to be in the universe. After completing his season, Ty will be back to work in the Grand Canyon later this fall. “I visited the Canyon when I was a kid, and now I feel this strong connection to it,” he said. “I feel proud to be there. My mom told me that we have a very deep connection with the Canyon. Visiting it as a kid, I really didn’t know what I was seeing at the time. Now that I’m older and working to maintain the park and keep it in good shape, it’s a whole different experience. There was something that drew me to the Canyon as a kid, and that same thing has drawn me back as an adult.”
Volunteer Voices Stories and reflections from Stewards' Community Volunteer Ambassadors across the country
Representation matters, and
2019 CVA AT A GLANCE: 53 Community Volunteer Ambassadors 154,000 leveraged volunteer hours $3,916,245 value of volunteer hours 3,496 volunteers involved with educational programming 958 volunteers involved with veterans groups 4,287 volunteers involved with deferred maintenance
while doing an education piece with a group of girl scouts I was recently reminded of how powerful it is to see yourself represented in intentional ways. These girl scouts had members from Montana, Wyoming, Idaho and Washington, and came to Glacier National Park to earn their conservation badge through volunteerism. They did weed pulling, painting, and huckleberry surveys while they were here, but an unexpected moment came up while we were taking a break from painting to learn about the greater NPS system. We have an activity that I learned while working with our education department this past spring, where we look at the different mission statements of the National Forest and the National Park and compare and contrast them. Then we focus in on the NPS mission and look at pictures of different NPS sites and talk about why these sites are protected. I handed out a variety of pictures of NPS sites to the scouts and had them think about why these sites were important and worth protecting. When it came time to share one of the scouts showed her picture of Stonewall Inn in New York and said "this place is important to my culture" and then explained why it was so important to her. She explained why this place that was on the other side of the country, this place that she'd never been to, needed protected and celebrated. It was wild to see this scout that had just two minutes earlier been slumping over with afternoon sleepiness, and trying to be politely interested in what I was saying genuinely light up, sit taller, and engage when she got her picture. It was an unexpected moment that made my day. Representation matters. -Emma Hilliard, CVA at Glacier National Park
As an urban park in Seattle,
Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park (KLSE) has a unique opportunity to facilitate urban community groups’ involvement with Washington state's traditional ‘nature’ national parks. On April 20th, I joined my colleagues from KLSE and students from the Mount Tahoma Deaf T-Birds Club to volunteer for Washington’s Coastal Clean-up Day at Olympic National Park (OLYM). For many participants, this was their first visit to a national park and they were eager to experience the ocean. Through partnerships with the Washington Trails Association and the YMCA of the Greater Seattle Area, volunteers were provided outdoor gear and transportation to the Washington Coast (appropriate gear and transportation can be huge barriers for getting people to their public lands). We departed early in the morning and met the group outside their high school in Tacoma. From there, we embarked on a three hour journey to the Washington Coast. Upon arrival, we met with park rangers at OLYM, geared up with gloves and bags, and spent time walking Ruby Beach--picking up trash, taking photos, and watching the waves on a rare sunshine-filled April day. Our time cleaning up the beach was relatively short, but the volunteers maintained their sense of stewardship by going after pieces of rope, plastic, and tubing. Our garbage and recy-
cling bags quickly filled up! Afterwards, the group was invited to a thank-you barbecue and contributed to a rainbow ‘art from trash’ project, which OLYM rangers will use in Seattle’s upcoming Pride Parade. Participants from the Deaf T-Birds said “we cleaned and cleared out garbage that was dangerous to living organisms. We really enjoyed the nature around us. I would come back because it’s a nice ‘getaway’ from reality,” "I liked how we were teammates on the beach," "I would come back because everyone was nice, made me feel comfortable. And I love to help change the world."
Foundation and American Express. The partnership formed with the Deaf T-Birds was in part due to one of the club's member participating in the summer In My Backyard internship program at KLSE in 2018. -Carol Holmson, CVA at Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park
Spending the day with this thoughtful and enthusiastic group of high school students was truly inspiring. I couldn't help but smile as I watched them laugh with their friends, untangle seaweed from rope, and run from the crashing ocean waves. It was a rewarding day of stewardship, memorable interactions, and I'm thankful for the opportunities I had to learn from the students. I, along with most of the volunteers, wish we could have spent more time on the wild and beautiful Washington coast. The Deaf T-Birds Club participated in another trip to Mount Rainier National Park for recreation on May 19th. These trips were part of a new initiative to bring underrepresented groups to public lands for volunteering and recreating opportunities, with support from the National Park
Geoscientists in the Parks
The Geoscientists-in-the-Parks Internship Program, developed by the NPS Geologic Resources Division in 1996, provides undergraduate/graduate students and recent graduates, 18–35 years old, with on-theground, natural resource, science-based work experience with the National Park Service. The program fulfills requests by park, network, and central office staff for assistance with natural resource science projects. GIP interns enable the National Park Service to complete important natural resource projects that would not be feasible without the interns’ help. GIP projects address a broad array of natural resource science needs in air resources, biological resources, geological resources, natural sounds and night skies, water resources, and other integrated science topics. This multidisciplinary program provides many opportunities for persons to work on projects focusing on inventory and monitoring; research; curation of park natural resources; developing educational brochures, visitor materials, and educational curricula; and interpreting natural resource science information for park staff and the public. The Geoscientists-in-the-Parks Program is run in partnership with Stewards Individual Placement Program (Stewards) and The Geological Society of America (GSA), in 15
There’s no experience like living and working in a National Park.
collaboration with the National Park Service’s Natural Resource Stewardship and Science offices and divisions. In 2019, 173 GIP interns helped 85 NPS units and central offices fulfill their unmet natural resource science needs, while gaining practical job experience ranging from three months to one year. GIPs served a total of 129,680 service hours. Since the program’s creation twenty-three years ago, 1,809 participants have completed thousands of natural resource science projects in 207 parks, networks, and central offices and contributed to 943,468 hours to critical science projects. Over 30% of the projects focused on geologic resources, and the remainder on other natural resource science disciplines. Projects covered categories such as inventory and monitoring, research, GIS, and developing and presenting educational and interpretive programs. This year, 20% of the participants were racially diverse and 68% of the interns were female students or recent graduates. The GIP interns’ work contributed 129,680 service hours or the equivalent of 62 years of full time work doing critical science projects for the NPS at a cost of approximately $2.3 MM. In FY19 the GIP Program continued its affiliation with AmeriCorps and offered Segal Education Awards to its participants.
PROGRAM OBJECTIVES • Provide on-the-job natural resource science training for undergraduate and graduate students and recent graduates • Introduce program participants to science careers in the National Park Service • Build natural resource science technical capacity for parks and central offices • Enhance the public’s understanding of the natural resource sciences.
NPS has been able to move science-based decision-making and resource management forward for the National Park Service. GIP interns gained valuable on-theground training, personal and professional development skills, and an increased awareness of conservation and environmental stewardship on public lands. Many interns qualified for the Public Lands Corps Non-Competitive Hiring Authority or the Direct Hire Authority. A program goal is to use these special hiring authorities to hire outstanding GIP graduates into the NPS workforce. Funding from the NPS Geologic Resources Division, Natural Resource Stewardship
2019 GIP LOCATIONS
and Science Directorate, Intermountain Region, parks, networks, central offices, park associations, and the substantial cost share by the program partners has leveraged NPS funding to complete highly critical science projects for the NPS, training for America’s youth, and furthering the NPS mission. These internship opportunities will help grow a stronger and more diverse STEM workforce in the NPS and throughout the American workforce. The program partners offered innovative ideas that have improved the GIP Program in 2019, have recruited highly talented participants, and effectively managed the dayto-day program operations. We are looking forward to another successful year in 2020!
JON EHRENBERG, BIOLOGY ASSISTANT KALOKO-HONOKŌHAU NHP, HI Jon Ehrenberg spent his term at Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park in Hawai’i surveying various aquatic species. In order to survey and study coral reefs, Jon completed 33 scuba diving surveys. Coral were studied within park waters to calculate percent cover of different species along a specific transect. In addition to fieldwork, Jon assisted with resource briefs, or reports that are meant to inform visitors about the status of different resources within the park. Coral reefs are very important to Hawai’i’s culture, ecology, and economy. Although Jon’s studies have found significant decrease in coral cover at the park, partially due to coral bleaching, he gained a sense of hope after attending a Hui Loko (Fish pond) meeting, where participants discussed the restoration work being done on Hawai’i Island with the goal of restoring Hawaiian ecosystems.
DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION Sixty eight percent of GIP interns in FY19 were women. Participation by women in the GIP Program is 13% higher than the percentage of women in the U.S. earning undergraduate degrees in science fields (55%) and over two times the percentage of women working in the U.S. science workforce (28%) (National Science Foundation). This year, 20% of GIP participants were from minority groups under-represented in STEM career fields. Participation by racially diverse students may be higher than is reported because 2% of the program participants chose not to disclose their race/ethnicity on their applications. Overall, the 20% diversity in the GIP Program does not adequately represent the diversity of the U.S. population, however it is three times more than the US STEM workforce (6%) and is nearly seven times that of the NPS STEM workforce (3%).
From the Geoscientists-in-the-Parks Program Annual Accomplishments Report Fiscal Year 2019, by Limaris Soto, Paige Lambert, and Chelsea Bitting
Historic Preservation Training Center HISTORIC PRESERVATION TRAINING CENTER
The Historic Preservation Training Center (HPTC) and Stewards Individual Placement Program partnership provides training, vocational skills development and experience for individuals interested in the historic preservation trades. Since the HPTC is part of the National Park Service, members gain skills while helping to preserve the historic structures, monuments and memorials throughout the park system. In 2019, Conservation Legacy and the HPTC program supported 75 participants. Through three signature programs—the Veteran Trades Apprenticeship Program, the Traditional Trades Youth Initiative and the Preservation Work Experience—the Historic Preservation Training Center is preparing a future workforce in specialized building trades and historic preservation while also completing deferred maintenance projects throughout the national park system. Stewards members generally focus in one area of maintenance throughout their term—masonry, carpentry, or woodcrafting—and learn these skills from NPS professionals. VETERANS PROGRAMS
In 2019, the Historic Preservation Training Center and Stewards Individual Placement Program supported 19 veterans, specifically providing training and experience in the maintenance and care of federal monuments and memorials. Apprentices developed marketable skills and received excellent exposure to the historic preservation career field.
CHRISTIAN WEBB, MONOCACY NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD "I have had many accomplishments during my time here at Monocacy National Battlefield. I have quickly grown to love the process that the National Park Service uses to accommodate their parks to the best way possible. Here at Monocacy, we look at every angle to make the park a better experience for visitors and take a lot of pride in the projects we complete. The ones that I am so grateful to have been a part of is the new fence that was constructed at the Thomas House, building a rain guard onto the Thomas House barn, learning compliance with Alex, the park Archaeologist, cleaning the Gambrill Mill Bridge and stabilizing the Brooks Hill Bridge behind the Worthington House.
These projects that I have been fortunate to be a part of have really shown me the importance of preservation and the significance of the National Park Service. I am proud of everything I have learned from learning to string weed eaters, to learning to change oil in vehicles, to simply learning to greet visitors at the Visitors Center. One day, I hope everything I have learned here helps me live out my dream with the National Park Service."
Technical Rock Work in the San Juan
PINE RIVER TRAIL SAN JUAN NATIONAL FOREST
In a region where snow is still common in the middle of June, working outside takes on a whole new set of challenges. That’s what Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) crew 443 learned when they set off to complete a large-scale rockwork project in the alpine meadows of the Weminuche Wilderness. High spring runoff caused severe erosion along Pine River trail 523 near Vallecito, an unincorporated community just a few miles northeast of Durango, Colorado. One particular bend in the trail— flanked by the river on one side and a sheer cliff face on the other—experienced extensive damage. The loss of this 50’ portion of the trail would permanently divide the trail into two sections, so the rangers of the San Juan National Forest Columbine District determined that the only option was to restore the section by armoring the downhill side of the trail with an eight foot tall rock retention wall. They reached out Southwest Conservation Corps who jumped at the chance to move big rocks in the mountains—their specialty.
However, when crew 443 arrived for their first hitch in June, they were met with stubborn snowpack still clinging to the high country and downed trees crisscrossing the trail. Their worksite was nine miles into the wilderness, and the crew were relying on a horse packing outfit to haul gear for their campsite in order to establish an efficient base camp. “The snowpack was intense last year,” reminisced SCC Program Director Jordan Burningham. “The crew spent the first hitch clearing the trail for the horse packers and when the snow melted, the runoff caused the river to run high, and the crew had to wait until the water receded.” Finally, in early July, the crew was able to begin work on the rock wall. They hauled boulders from a nearby rockfall using a highline griphoist and rock nets, placed them using rock bars, and smashed smaller rocks into ‘crush’ with sledgehammers to fill between the cracks and reinforce the wall. The work alone was physically demanding, but the crew also lived in the backcountry for up to two weeks at a time to complete the project: using a latrine, hanging their food and ‘smellable’ items in trees at
night, and sleeping in tents. Despite the hardships, the crew remained dedicated and enthusiastic about the project. “It’s been absolutely beautiful,” insisted Jonathan Reed, one of the members of crew 443. “A lot of hard work, but I knew what I was signing up for. This is my favorite project we’ve had. When we started, we were eight feet below the water, and now the wall’s as tall as I am. It’s just been really rewarding.” Throughout the 13-week-long project, the crew worked a total of 3,430 hours, constructed a 550 square foot rock retaining wall, and removed 187 downed trees from the trail corridor. “This was the most important project implemented on the District in 2019,” said Don Kelly, USFS Trails Foreman. “Despite the remote setting, the installation of a complicated mechanical highline, the high-water levels in the river, and medical issues forcing two crew members to leave the program early, the project was completed ahead of schedule.” The crew wrapped up work in late September with the successful completion of a formidable retention wall, which will secure the trail for years to come and protect the surrounding habitat from overuse. 18
Partners in Service
Arizona Conservation Corps working in Saguaro National Park near Tucson, Arizona.
National service is at the heart of Conservation Legacy and its programs and we are proud to be partners and supporters of: The Corporation for National and Community Service AmeriCorps, AmeriCorps VISTA and AmeriCorps Disaster Response Teams Engaging young adults in intensive community service work with the goal of meeting the critical needs of the community and environment, we are proud to partner with AmeriCorps, providing service opportunities to young adults across the country. AmeriCorps is a network of national service programs that each take a different approach to improving lives and fostering civic engagement. Members commit their time to address critical community needs like increasing academic achievement, mentoring youth, fighting poverty, sustaining national parks, preparing for disasters and more. The Corps Network Conservation Legacy is a proud member of The Corps Network, providing critical leadership to the corps movement and to the nation’s service and conservation corps as they tackle some of America’s greatest challenges. Voices for National Service Voices for National Service is a diverse coalition of national and local service programs, state service commissions and individual champions, who work together to ensure Americans of all ages have the opportunity to serve and volunteer in their communities. Conservation Legacy is proud to be a member of the Voices for National Service Steering Committee.
Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Conservation Legacy provides strategic leadership to support the Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC), with the primary goal of providing leadership to expand and deepen the impact of corps work. The 21CSC is a bold national effort to put thousands of young American’s and veterans to work protecting, restoring and enhancing America’s great outdoors and cultural and community resources. The program is operated through a publicprivate partnership between government, industry, non-profit and community organizations, working together to foster the next generation of community leaders and resource stewards. Conservation Legacy is proud to be a leader of the 21CSC movement. The Public Lands Service Coalition Founded in 2009 by The Corps Network, Conservation Legacy and the Student Conservation Association, the Public Lands Service Coalition (PLSC) is an unincorporated coalition of more than 40 Conservation Corps and other organizations that promote youth and veteran engagement in stewardship of the Great Outdoors. The PLSC promotes and supports efforts to expand youth service on public and tribal lands and waters, with the goal that this service leads to careers in natural resource management and the development of the next generation of environmental stewards.
WE ARE DEEPLY THANKFUL FOR THE SUPPORT AND DEDICATION OF OUR CURRENT BOARD MEMBERS
Enrique Figueroa, Chair Larry Hand, Vice Chair Loretta Pineda, Treasurer Butch Blazer, Secretary Robert Burkhardt CJ Goulding Karen Rudolph Stephany Wu Elwood York A special welcome to our newest Board members: Johnathan Hall Ashley Hansen Wayne Hubbard David Muraki Lisa Norby Dr. Benjamin Tuggle