Saturday, July 30, 2016

Week 9 - You Learn Something New Each Day

Week 7 was another mixed week as I was scheduled to be with interpretation but ended up lending two of my days to finish up a project I had started while with cultural resources the previous week. I say project but we were really just moving part of the collection at Jamestowne over to Yorktown. This move required three trips and when the trip is a forty minute drive one way on top of the time it takes to load and unload, the time it takes quickly adds up. But over the course of two days we were able to get everything moved and organized in its new home and even had time to travel around to various locations and check temperature and humidity data loggers, which quickly turned into a scavenger hunt as a few of them had died and we couldn't use our phone to track there location. Overall, I'm glad I was able to do this as not being able to see the project through to the end would have bothered me. 

The rest of the week I was back to my normal interpretative duties of working the information desk at both the Jamestowne and Yorktown visitor centers. I have to say by the end of the week I really had the job down and was able to tailor my short speech to the visitors' interest pretty accurately. Through the week I also got the chance to participate in two interpretive programs I hadn't gotten to do my first week with Interpretation. The first is the subject of the three pictures included in this post. We have 3 buildings within the park that we open to visitors when we have staff to station there and the one I didn't get to do last time, the Nelson House, was finally open this week. This was the house owned by Thomas Nelson, Jr. who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, a brigadier general in the Continental Army who fought at the Siege of Yorktown, and a governor of Virginia. This house was one of the few that survived the siege and is estimated to be 80-90 percent original today. Oh yeah and that cannon shot you see in the side of the building isn't real, but it sure looks cool.

The second new thing I got to do was take the guided Yorktown tour. Our visitor center used to offer a variety of programs and tours but these have slowly been whittled away as staff diminishes. However, we have a few volunteers that are knowledgeable enough to be able to lead tours and programs. This Yorktown tour is a rare occurrence so I made sure tag along for this one and it was well worth the hour out in the heat. I learned things during this tour that I hadn't even heard mentioned in the eight weeks I have already spent here. This tour really was a testament to the benefit of participating in an internship that allows you the ability to work with and talk to as many people within a park as possible.

Park Visit to CUIS

Earlier this month, Mr. Luongo came to visit Cumberland Island NS. Mr. Luongo got to meet Ranger Reitchel and Ranger Lawrence, the two rangers who have been supervising me this summer. I first introduced Mr. Luongo to the Captains House, the Ranger Station. I showed him my medical bag and all the supplies I carry on a daily basis. I introduced him to the Dungeness Ruins and the historical history of the island. We then hiked Nightingale Trail to observe some of the natural resources, where we found some black widows and golden orb weavers along the trail. Then we drove north on the main road to check out the rest of the island. We did a tour of Plum orchard and The settlement. it started raining pretty hard, which made for a fun ride on dirt roads in the Chevy Colorado.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Favorite Spot

With over 700,000 acres of designated Wilderness (94% of Yosemite NP), it's hard to chose a favorite spot in the park.  However, I think mine is Tuolumne Meadows.

The View from the Ranger's Club

The view from the back porch of the Ranger's Club is one of my favorite spots from this historic home.

When Two ProRangers Reunite for a Week

     Following the 4th of July I got to take in a day with the Yosemite legal office, and we had hoped I would get to see a trial, but it had been settled the night before. This only meant we got to go out on the boat at Hetch Hetchy to see exactly where a bizarre case in the park had occurred last fall.



     The rest of the week I went on ride alongs with the Valley shift, learning more about the zones of the district, and problems within them. We discussed different tactics of patrolling during different hours of the day, and how especially on the weekends bike patrol is really the most effective way to get around the Valley. Last year was the highest visitation on record for the park; by June of this year those numbers had already increased 20%, which only exacerbates major problems in the park, such as traffic congestion.

     The next week was quickly rolling around and there were whispers of trainings going on, which I had been waiting for so fellow ProRanger Brittany Kriner could come up from SAMO and join. I don't think things could have fell into place any better than they did. The day Brittany arrived we were able to squeeze in a ride along that evening in the Valley. The following day we participated in swift water training. Since the beginning of spring this year up to the training, over 20 people had life-threatening (or life-ending) incidents in the creeks and rivers of Yosemite.  

     The following day we attended active shooter training with the LE Rangers and Medics. In the morning we watched the LE's practice different ways, and the finer tactics of clearing rooms. This all lead up to the large scenario in the afternoon in which Brittany and I played the roles of victims. Brittany's last day here we were lucky enough to go on Climbing Patrol. We did a multi pitch climb on After 6 and the view we had from the top, and all the way up was amazing.  I'm glad Britt got to come out and experience some of the things I've been doing this summer and also do some new things with me!

Autograph Your Work

“Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with excellence.”  -Jessica Guidobono-

In my final two weeks at BUFF, I am working with the maintenance division and it has been another great week. The maintenance division here at BUFF is filled with extremely hardworking individuals that truly give meaning to the phrase “do more with less.” While struggling with common agency-wide issues such as understaffing and lack of resources, the men and women of the BUFF maintenance division continually “autograph their work with excellence.”

Frank (right) and his YCC crew
after some hard work
One of the freshly painted park buildings
Frank Smith, much like Ray Benjamin, is a one-man team. He is the BUFF trail team and as such, he is charged with maintaining BUFF’s 70+ miles of trail. Luckily, this summer he was given some extra help and tasked with leading a YCC (Youth Conservation Corps) group. I was lucky enough to work with Frank and the YCC kids this week and together, in just three days, we painted two park buildings and maintained nearly five miles of the BRT (Buffalo River Trail). I was just so impressed by the work ethic and skill of the YCC group. I think I speak for the entire group when I say that we ended each workday both exhausted and filled with a sense of accomplishment.

I have truly enjoyed my time thus far with maintenance because I love being able to look back at my work each day and see a visible improvement. I also love leaving work feeling physically exhausted because I put everything into my work. That is a feeling that simply can’t be replicated. That is how I “autograph my work with excellence.”

Hog Team Update

Reporting live from Buffalo National River… this just in: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. A large group of feral hogs and a large sow were sighted in the hog trap that I helped to set up in Wilson Field with THE hog team (aka Ray Benjamin). Shortly after the sighting, the gate was triggered and Ray responded.

A group of feral hogs caught on camera gazing
in the Wilson Field hog trap
A large sow sighted later that night
 in the Wilson Field hog trap