Working with California State Parks

Sarah Gadomski stencils "DPR" (Department of Parks and Recreation) on tables in a building in Russian Gulch State Park near Mendocino, CA. California State Parks recently acquired multiple tables and chairs and assigned us to "brand" them using black paint.

Unopened boxes of tables and chairs purchased by Cal State Parks.

Alyssa Pun stencils "DPR" on a number of chairs.


In another assignment from Cal State Parks, NCCC Corps Members repaired old fencing in Van Damme State Park, just south of Mendocino, CA. The fencing was installed around campsites in the state parks and by the park's entrance in the 1940s and 1950s. The wood used was from old growth redwoods that were cut down earlier in the century. The fences had deteriorated over time and to repair them, we used other old growth redwoods posts that had been sitting around since the mid 1900s. The wood is naturally resilient to weathering, making it a choice wood for fencing.

NCCC Corps Members continue to repair redwood fencing in Van Damme State Park.

Ice Plant

During our first week working with California State Parks, we were charged with removing ice plant from the coastal areas of Glass Beach. A native from South Africa, ice plant was brought to the California coast around 1900 to stabilize soil along railroad tracks and for general erosion control. An aggressive invasive, ice plant competes with endangered northern California flora. Here, NCCC Corps Members pull the plant and toss it on a tarp to be removed.

Ice plant | Carpobrotus edulis

Alyssa Pun removes ice plant from the Glass Beach coast near Fort Bragg, CA.

An Introduction to Scotch Broom

Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparious) is a perennial shrub native to western and central Europe and is a noxious species in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Reminiscent of the dreaded hitches of the Nevada Conservation Corps where we pulled the invasive Brassica, or Sahara mustard, most of the time our NCCC team spent working with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department was spent removing Scotch Broom. Our first taste of this invasive was at a Willamette River tributary, the Luckiamute River.

Scotch Broom was removed from the landscape and placed into a trailer to later be burned.

The NCCC team takes lunch by the Luckiamute River.

Sydney Lawson handles a snake found on the rocks by the river.

Luckiamute Restoration

NCCC Corps Member Sarah Gadomski installs a native plant at a Luckiamute paddler's access point. The Luckiamute River is a tributary to the Willamette River located within the western Willamette Valley. Under heavy fog, the team planted natives in designated locations governed by the park ranger of the state natural area.

Taylor Burback and Michael Green install plants alongside a road at the Luckiamute State Natural Area.

More plant installation.

Willamette Mission Restoration

AmeriCorps NCCC Team Blue 4 at Willamette Mission State Park.

The team at Willamette Mission State Park.

Dog wood and willow stakes are harvested at Willamette Mission State Park to install in a restoration area. These cuttings will take root and eventually propagate throughout the former farmland.

Sierra Nevada Wildflowers

We have been working outside of Thomas Creek for the past four weeks, building a trail that will eventually connect to the Tahoe Rim Trail. Having to hike about four miles to our back-country camp location for the hitch, we pass a lot of wildflowers. Below are some of them I've documented using a Sierra Nevada field guide.

Alpine Penstemon |  Penstemon davidsonii

Alpine Penstemon | Penstemon davidsonii

Applegate's Paintbrush (orange) |  Castilleja applegatei

Applegate's Paintbrush (orange) | Castilleja applegatei

Applegate's Paintbrush (red) |  Castilleja applegatei

Applegate's Paintbrush (red) | Castilleja applegatei

Bitterbrush |  Purshia tridentata

Bitterbrush | Purshia tridentata

Checker Bloom |  Sidalcea glaucescens

Checker Bloom | Sidalcea glaucescens

Crimson Columbine |  Aquilegia formosa

Crimson Columbine | Aquilegia formosa

Dwarf Chamaesaracha |  Chamaesaracha nana

Dwarf Chamaesaracha | Chamaesaracha nana

Elephant's Head |  Pedicularis groenlandica

Elephant's Head | Pedicularis groenlandica

Giant Mountain Larkspur |  Delphinium glaucum

Giant Mountain Larkspur | Delphinium glaucum

Granite Gilia |  Leptodactylon pungens

Granite Gilia | Leptodactylon pungens

Hartweg's Iris |  Iris hartwegii

Hartweg's Iris | Iris hartwegii

Heart-leaved Arnica |  Arnica cordifolia

Heart-leaved Arnica | Arnica cordifolia

Horsemint |  Agastache urticifolia

Horsemint | Agastache urticifolia

Peony |  Paeonia brownii

Peony | Paeonia brownii

Scarlet Gilia |

Ipomopsis aggregata

Showy Penstemon |

Penstemon speciosus

Sierra Nevada Pea |

Lathyrus nevadensis

Sierra Onion |

Allium campanulatum

Sierra Plum |

Prunus subcordata

Sierra Stickseed |

Hackelia nervosa

Snow Plant |

Sarcodes sanguinea

Soft Arnica |

Arnica mollis

Spreading Phlox |

Phlox diffusa

Spur Lupine |

Lupinus arbustus

Woolly Mule's Ears |

Wyethia mollis

Subalpine Shooting Star |

Dodecatheon subalpinum

Sulfur Flower |

Eriogonum umbellatum

Western Blue Flag |

Iris missouriensis

Western Wallflower |

Erysimum capitatum ssp. perenne

White Rein Orchid |

Platanthera leucostachys

Another Day in the Office

The crew commissions single track trail in a recreational area by Pyramid Lake, NV managed by the BLM. We were charged with creating a re-route for OHVs around an area that was recently designated as culturally sensitive. We were apparently not qualified to know what was culturally sensitive about the area, but we gathered that this area, named Spirit Canyon, was of significance to neighboring Native American tribes who perhaps performed rituals in this Canyon. Above, the crew walks through Spirit Canyon.

After work on Thursday, the last day of hitch, we take a dip into Pyramid Lake.

The crew walks over the trail at the end of the day to return to camp for the evening.

A GBI vehicle has no choice but to venture through a flooded road. There were certainly no intact, water-free adjacent roads we could have taken instead.

Wilson Canyon and a New Crew

A week after the NCC summer orientation and formation of new crews built from both old and new members, newly-fashioned NCC crews began work around Nevada. We are building new tread at Wilson Canyon, a gorge of volcanic cliffs cut by the Walker River a little west of Yerington. The new trail will have been started and completed by this crew in a period of two weeks.

On the third day of hitch, winds between 60 and 90 mph picked up, causing a small sandstorm and preventing us from continuing work for the rest of the day.

Waiting for the entire crew to gather before leaving Wilson Canyon due to severe strong winds.

Young Kim prepares dinner for the crew after work.

The crew continues building tread.

Sand Mountain

NCC crewmembers worked 20 miles east of Fallon, NV at Sand Mountain to decommission unauthorized OHV roads. Sand Mountain, a Singing Sand dune, began to form when the nearby Lake Lahonton dried up. As wind blew across the delta, sand picked up and blew northeast. Trapped by the Stillwater Mountain Range, the sand would fall into its present day location. Over centuries of accumulating sand, Sand Mountain currently stands at almost 600 feet.

The dry lake bed of ancient Lake Lahonton can be seen in the distance. Formed by glaciers over 10,000 years ago, climate change led to the gradual dessication of the lake. As the water level dropped, the lake broke up into a series of smaller lakes. The lake here dried up about 4,000 years ago.

NCC crewmembers decommission roads during precipitation in the Sand Mountain area outside of Fallon, NV. The mountains in the distance belong to the Clan Alpine Mountain Range.

A lizard sunbathes on a rock in the Sand Mountain Recreation Area.

Decommissioning of unauthorized OHV roads in the Sand Mountain Recreation Area. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages these 4,795 acres of designated recreation area, used primarily by OHVs. An endemic species called the Sand Mountain Blue Butterfly lives only in this area and was recently petitioned to be listed as a threatened or endangered species. The butterfly is almost completely dependent on Kearney Buckwheat, a plant that continues to diminish due to unchecked OHV use on non-designated areas. Decommissioning unauthorized roads at Sand Mountain will prevent further lose of habitat for the endemic butterfly.

NCC crewmembers take a break.

Sand Mountain.

Mandatory Volunteerism

As part of our year-long term with the Nevada Conservation Corps, we are required to participate in a number of extracurricular volunteer activities. These "mandatory volunteer days," as we like to call them, are spread throughout the year and between Las Vegas and Reno. On this day (which is Martin Luther King Jr. Day), when we'd normally go off on hitch for the week, we get the day "off" but then must come to the volunteer day. That's how our holidays generally work... Oh and we still need to make up the one day of hitch we lost by working an extra day at the end of the week (Tuesday - Friday; we normally get Friday off). No bitterness there. None at all. In any case, we worked with Habitat for Humanity this day to help place clay roof tiles on new houses for low income families. There was also painting to be done and a few other odd jobs.

NCCers work vigilantly on this scaffolding to transport clay roofing tile on top of these houses.

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval showed up to the site during this volunteer day, gave a small speech in front of the press, then helped out a bit.

NCC crewmembers pass tiles along to be brought up to the roof.

Trail Maintenance in the Valley of Fire

Nevada Conservation Corps Crew No. 3 finishes their trail work for the day at the Valley of Fire State Park in southern Nevada.

Jamie Sauer at the Petrified Logs area of Valley of Fire.

Me at White Domes, Valley of Fire.

Ben Nicklay pauses from creating a trail feature at White Domes, Valley of Fire.

Joel Ogulnick at White Domes, Valley of Fire.

(Click and drag to rotate.) The Elephant Rock area of the Valley of Fire.

(Click and drag to rotate 360 degrees.) Our campground at the Valley of Fire.

Southern Nevada

NCC crewmembers place rocks in front of unauthorized trails in the Sunrise Mountain area outside of Las Vegas to prevent off-roading.

I wasn't planning on setting up my tent on this hitch. I was just going to sleep in my sleeping bag on a tarp. This tarantula, which was just a few feet away from my spot, changed my mind. Gold Butte, NV.

Keyhole Canyon, NV.

Ray, Macki and Marisa install vertical mulch to decommission an unauthorized road. A lot of our work so far has been dealing with unauthorized roads that run through environmentally sensitive or historically significant areas. One method of decommissioning roads is to install vertical mulch. We cut branches off of native creosote bushes, dig holes in the road, and then "plant" the branches in the holes. Although dead, the green creosote leaves last up to a year and helps make roads less visible to those who are searching for them.

Hugo prior to removing this unauthorized road in the Sunrise Mountain area, just northeast of Las Vegas.

Macki and Jamie install vertical mulch. Sunrise Mountain area outside of Las Vegas.

All NCC crews worked on an eight-day hitch in Corona, California the week prior to Thanksgiving. All crews set up their tents in this area.

Keyhole Canyon, NV at dusk.

Hugo, overlooking Lake Maed in the Gold Butte area of Nevada.

Crewmembers of the NCC carry salvaged irrigation tubing to be used for future projects. This land outside of Corona, California was previously used as a citrus orchard and materials like this tubing were left on the land when the land managers left.

A waterway exiting Las Vegas, which is seen in the background.

(Click and drag to rotate 360 degrees.) At Ash Meadows, NV, NCC crewmembers installed native riparian plants alongside a man-made channel.

SIDEARM in San Francisco

San Francisco Marriott Marquis.

Alcatraz can be seen from Pier 39.

As seen from the top of the lighthouse on Forbes Island by Pier 39.

Heavy fog.

We took this boat out to Forbes Island where we ate dinner before watching Fourth of July fireworks.

Golden Gate Bridge.

Kate Bartlett.

Waiting in a lobby.