Dirt from the Field: December, 2010

Whew! The planting is done!  Since last month’s post, lots of volunteers  took lots of cuttings (over 3,000!) and got them into water for soaking.  Fann Environmental and Natural Channel Design companies moved massive amounts of dirt and rock to recover from the damage caused by last year’s floods and also to make Granite Creek better able to withstand similar events in the future.  The normally quiet woods were alive with the sound of people and machines working for most of a month.

But, what I really want to tell you about is the job that the A.C.E. crew did. A.C.E. (American Conservation Experience) is an organization that recruits young people the world over to come to America to work as volunteers on all kinds of conservation projects. They randomly put together crews  of about eight volunteers at their Flagstaff headquarters and send them out with a leader to work on what they call “projects”. A project can be either 4 or 8 days long and they work 10 hour days before getting some well-deserved time off. They camp on site (in our case, at Watson Lake Park) and work in whatever conditions they encounter. We were very lucky this year in that we had absolutely beautiful conditions!

Our A.C.E. crew arrived on December 1st and worked incredibly hard until they left on December 8th . They planted over 3,000 trees and shrubs, reseeded 3 ½ acres of areas that were disturbed by people and equipment, and laid over a half acre of landscape cloth! Just to put these numbers in perspective, an acre is 43,560 square feet.

A little more about this year’s A.C.E. crew, there were two Belgians, one Korean, three from the UK, and three, including their leader, from Germany.  It was so interesting to hear about life in so many different countries.  Even the Belgians were one each from French Belgium and Dutch Belgium.  We spent lots of time talking about all of our different countries and cultures as we worked and during our lunch breaks.  At the end of the eight days, we all had made new friends from other parts of the world.

During their time here, A.C.E. worked on three of the four “reaches” of Granite Creek that were re-constructed two years ago.  The fourth reach was not damaged in the January 2010 floods and so needed no new work.  Creek banks were reshaped and about 2800 new willows were planted to stabilize those banks, landscape cloth was spread and staked out to cover newly seeded areas, and tree species (cottonwoods and red willows) were planted in open areas.  We also created a new wetland area and planted one large open area that was scheduled to be planted last year but was too wet for machines to work in at the time.

It was a really big job and it couldn’t have been done without the volunteers of A.C.E. and our great community… thank you!

Well, that’s it from the field.  I wish all who read this a very satisfying holiday season and a good 2011!

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