From the Field: Huntersfield Vista Maintenance & Sprucing up the Spruceton Trail!

Huntersfied Vista Maintenance
Volunteers dressed warm with a day that featured snow, sleet and rain while the vistas were being maintained! Just a late May day in the Catskills!

Huntersfield Vista Maintenance: On May 20, volunteers and staff from the CCC assisted DEC staff members in clearing three vistas located on the yellow loop trail around the summit of Huntersfield Mountain located just north of the Catskill Park. Shawn Smith of Operations and Ranger Jeff Breigle led the crew; volunteers acted as swampers. The approved work for this project was completed and all three vistas have been restored.

Special thanks to all DEC staff involved. It was a real treat for volunteers to work with a professional sawyer – Mr. Smith is a surgeon with the saw! In addition, Ranger Breigle invited feedback and fostered communication among volunteers about the aesthetics of each vista, such that volunteers felt empowered to offer suggestions and feedback. For volunteers to be able to see a vista open up before their very eyes was magical – they were thrilled. The weather was awful, which just added to the allure of the day.

One of the trail clearing volunteers!
A rare Catskills chupacabra sighting or just one of the volunteers who helped clear brush along the Spruceton Trail?

Sprucing up the Spruceton Trail: On May 21, volunteers assisted DEC and Trail Conference staff in trail work on the Spruceton Trail. We worked for approximately 4 hours, removing piles of cut limbs and small trees from the side of the trail. The material was pulled back into the woods, alleviating the eyesore. We each removed approximately 20 piles of brush in a section of trail roughly .25 miles long. We estimate another .75 miles of trail still remains in need of this type of work.

Special thanks to Ranger Christine Nelson who drove us halfway up the trail to increase time spent working on the project. One of our volunteers was not familiar with the Catskills and had never been on Hunter Mountain before. She was truly delighted with her first experience – a ride in a ranger truck, hearing the Bicknell’s thrush calling, the incredible views from the fire tower!

Mid May Madness

Here at the Catskill Conservation Corps, we’ve been working hard for months, planning and organizing events, work trips, projects, and workshops, and we’ve been learning a lot as we forge ahead. Here are a few of the lessons we’ve been handed by Mother Nature.

Lesson 1: be flexible! We used expert sources to schedule our knotweed event, discussing when the knotweed would most likely be at the ideal height with a number of experienced folks. But the deep snow and lingering cold meant that the knotweed didn’t even emerge until much later than expected, and forced us to reschedule the work trip. Let’s face it – we couldn’t throw that particular party if the guest of honor wasn’t going to make it!

We also scheduled a project at the summit of Huntersfield Mountain for mid-April, seeking to get a jump on the work season and bang that project out before heat and bugs would make the work more difficult. Again, the deep snow skunked us and we had to reschedule that trip as well.

Another important part of the planning process includes site visits to trails and assessment by CCC and DEC staff to determine specific work plans. The fires this spring on SW Hunter Mountain and down in the Shawangunks meant that DEC staff were unavailable for some of those assessment trips and now they too will have to be rescheduled.

Lesson 2: build in “slush” time! The rescheduling of the knotweed event meant we needed to move other work trips. We had scheduled every weekend for almost a month straight and when a reschedule date was needed things were too tight. Through some wonderful flexibility on the part of DEC staff (they seem to have lesson 1 down pat!) we’ve been able to get everything rescheduled. Picture that house of cards – it all tumbled down a couple of times but we’ve got it neatly restacked! For the future, we do plan to schedule a little bit less tightly so that we can shuffle things around with greater ease. Because if there’s one thing we can predict, it’s that we’ll need to stay flexible!

Lesson 3: variety is the spice of life! While there are many more potential projects than we will be able to complete this work season, providing a great “menu” of volunteer options is important to us. To that end, we’re mixing it up! We are offering events in different geographic areas of the Catskills, half day events and full day events, weekday events and weekend trips, trail work, lean to work, at least one construction project, litter picking… a really wide variety of work projects so that there will definitely be something for everyone!

What is scheduled so far?

May 16: hand pulling knotweed at Russell Brook falls

May 17: moving the privy at the Mink Hollow lean to

May 21: Sprucing up the Spruceton Trail

May 30: staining the Huntersfield lean to

June 13 – 14: reroofing the Devil’s Acre Lean to

June 15: Half a dozen for half a day – trail project at Kaaterskill Falls

June 20: Learn how to maintain trails at Intro to Trail Maintenance

June 21: Pick Up Litter with Dad! Father’s Day litterpicking event at Overlook Mountain

More work trips, trail building, trainings and litter pick-ups will be scheduled but as we have learned – be ready to be flexible as weather or other surprises may force us to shuffle that house of cards one more time!

Spruce up the Spruceton Trail on Hunter Mountain on May 21, 2015

IMG_2709The Catskill Conservation Corps and the Trail Conference’s Catskills Trail Crew will be working on the Spruceton Trail on Hunter Mountain this May.  The Trail climbs Hunter Mountain from Spruceton Valley.

On this trip we will be working to clear brush and other materials from along the trail as it makes its way to the summit of Hunter Mountain from the Spruceton Road Trailhead.

Please make sure to wear your hiking boots; dress appropriately for the outdoor conditions and our trail maintenance activities; pack plenty of water to stay hydrated; bring work gloves; and bring a bag lunch.

The public is welcome to join us. No experience is necessary, we will provide the tools and the training on site before we get started.

Register

To register, you can contact the trip leader, Heather Rolland at 518-628-4243 or you can complete the form below.

Spring Cleaning at the Mink Hollow Lean-to on Sunday, May 17, 2015

IMG_2467The Catskills Trail Crew and the Catskill Conservation Corps will be working at the Mink Hollow Lean-to to relocate the privy to a new location. The crew will also be doing maintenance work as necessary around the lean-to site.  That work will include cleaning the lean-to, maintaining official camp-sites and removing any litter that may have accumulated over the winter.

Please make sure to wear your hiking boots; dress appropriately for the outdoor conditions and our trail work activities; pack plenty of water to stay hydrated; bring work gloves; and bring a bag lunch.  The lean-to is located a few miles in from the trailhead, so crew members will have to hike to the work site.

The public is welcome to join the crew.  No experience is necessary, we will provide the tools and the training on site before we get started.

Help Improve the Kaaterskill Falls Trail on June 15, 2015

KaaterskillFallsJoin the Catskill Conservation Corps and the Trail Conference’s Catskills Trail Crew on the Kaaterskill Falls Trail as we work to improve this trail.

On this trip we will be working to maintain existing trail structures between Route 23a and Kaaterskill Falls.

Please make sure to wear your hiking boots; dress appropriately for the outdoor conditions and our trail maintenance activities; pack plenty of water to stay hydrated; bring work gloves; and bring a bag lunch.

The public is welcome to join us. No experience is necessary, we will provide the tools and the training on site before we get started.

Registration

Registration is required for this event.  Please call 518-628-4243 or complete the form below:

Knotweed Removal From Russell Brook Falls | Saturday, May 16, 2015

Volunteers working on KnotweedThe Catskill Conservation Corps invites volunteers to help remove Japanese Knotweed from the vicinity of Russell Brook Falls on Saturday, May 16. The work site is an easy, short hike from the Russell Brook Trailhead.

Volunteers will be working with Catskill Conservation Corps (CCC) staff, Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP) staff and others educated in invasive species to remove Japanese Knotweed from the area surrounding Russell Brook Falls.

Volunteers should be sure to wear hiking boots; dress appropriately for the outdoor conditions and our activities; pack a snack and bring plenty of water to stay hydrated; and bring work gloves. The public is welcome to join work trips of the Catskill Conservation Corps. No experience is necessary and tools and training will be provided on site before we get started.

Registration

Pre-registration is required for the event. You can register by calling 518-628-4243, by sending an email to hrolland@nynjtc.org or by completing the registration form below.

Press Announcement for Russell Brook Falls Knotweed Removal