Last updated: June 15, 2016
Week two is off to an excellent start! Today started off with some weed pulling on a plot of land near Montezuma Well. The operation was monitored by a couple of natural resource park service employees and was carried out by a group from the Arizona Conservation Corps, another NAU student working on an internship, and myself. The main goal was to take out weeds that were invasive species so that the land could be used by native Arizona plant species. This was done by getting into the dirt and pulling the weeds out by hand, slowly maneuvering around the whole plot. The invasive plant species were everywhere so it took some hard work, and although the weeds seemed like they were never going to end, we made great progress and eventually the job was done!
The next task was to tidy up the drainage ditch, which contains clear water that extends from the picnic area all the way into the dense forest of green vegetation. The whole weed pulling group (including myself) trekked over to the maintenance building to gather tools, which consisted of weed whackers, pitch forks, and rakes. Only a few people were given weed whackers and their job was to trim the grass that extended over the stream. The rest of us had the job of scraping algae out of the drainage ditch, so that there would be no clogs and water could flow more smoothly. Also, too much algae can cause leaks from the ditch. Other Park Service employees from maintenance joined us on our voyage into the woods and helped us out along the way. The stream area we covered was about 1/4 - ½ mile. I stayed towards the back so that I could catch floating algae that escaped from others at the front of the pack, while also scraping the bottom of the ditch. It was difficult at times to actually see the algae because the once clear water had become muddied from all of the scraping. Often times I just stuck my rake into the brown water and came up with a huge load of algae. Once the whole group made it to the end of the stream and all of the larger hunks of algae were gone, the task was complete!
The next and last job that needed to be completed was planting seeds, which sounds normal but was done in a way I'd never seen before. There was a wheelbarrow full of mud, and all of us took a quarter sized clump. We then rolled the mud into a ball and created a divot, which we then placed small seedlings into. Once the seedlings were inside, the mud was again rolled into a ball and the seeds were ready to be planted into the Earth. Each person continued with this mud/ seed ball making process until there were a few bins full of mud/ seed balls. Although the work was tough and the air was hot, I had a great time today just being able to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Verde Valley and meet more amazing volunteers and Park Service Staff;plus, I learned a ton!