I joined Texas Conservation Corps to serve my country by protecting nature and helping people to recover from natural disasters. Initially, I thought to be involved with oil and gas industry but I switched focus on the “environmental” spectrum of work and I made a good decision. Conservation Corps projects are important for society and I am grateful to be a part of the team. Additionally, the education award is important to be able to pay for student loans.
We are involved in conservation and environmental stewardship projects which encompass rail building and maintenance, tree planting, removal of invasive species, and sustainable development. Furthermore, disaster response duties enable crews to provide short term help to people affected by natural disaster and give them information to receive long term assistance.
Likewise, for educational purposes I provide notes about our work.
Red Crew – Disaster Response Team at Westcave Preserve
The logistics of the project was to install posts along the trail to establish consistent border lines. 2 ft below the ground and 4 ft above the ground posts were installed. Rock bars, triple jacks, tape measures, pick-saws, hand saws, cement, water, agars, hammers, balances, bark removing knifes, and electric saws are used.
Wildlife Conservation Division – City of Austin
Mulch is a natural or synthetic material spread over the ground to protect soils, conserve water, prevent erosion, and limit weed growth. The following materials can be used for mulch: wood chips, straw, leaves, plastic, and paper. Over 100 tree specimens had been mulched creating a characteristic donut shape around the tree. It is relevant to discuss mulching technique.
The mulch should not touch tree trunk to avoid bark trapping and storing moisture. Mulch Bark is capable to penetrate the bark and suffocate the cell layer of phloem that transports nutrients up and down the plant. Nutrient and water scarcity may lead to insufficient water supply to the tree and death of root systems.
Weakened by rotting and moisture tree may invite fungi and bacteria create numerous secondary problems. Our group created ‘donut shape mulching shapes’ allowing 2-3 inches between trunk and first bit of mulch.
Figure 1 – Caged Trees
Figure 2 – Mulching Donut vs. Volcano (Courtesy of New Jersey Department Environmental Protection, Source: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/parksandforests/forest/community/Pruning.htm
Austin Wildlife Preservation Division – Star Thistle Removal
Before seeding each plant removed prevents the growth of dozens of other plants thus multiplying efficiency at least ten fold. Working together, Red Crew accomplished a substantial task to remove yellow star thistles.
Native star thistle is a strong invasive plant. According to USDA – it is distributed throughout 41 states. It is an annual herbaceous plant with green grey plants growing 6 inches to 5 feet tall with deep taproots. One should notice sharp yellow flowers which may hurt if touched. Basal Leaves are 2-3 inches long with deep lobes while upper leaves are short, 0.5 -1 inch long , narrow, and have few lobes.
Spread of yellow thistle takes place by seed and each seed head can produce from 35 to 80 seeds. Animals, vehicles, contaminated crop seed, hay or soil and road maintenance are possible sources of seed dispersal.
Star Thistle- (center spiky spherically shaped plant)
Sources which were helpful to write the blog entry:
By: Vsevolod K.