ALASKA – For over 10 years, American Hiking Society volunteers have ‘vacationed’ on the Chugach National Forest. From June 3 to June 8, members of the society’s Volunteer Vacation program came from across the country (North Carolina, Kansas, Colorado, California, and Alaska) to spend their vacation digging up non-native species and invasive weeds on the Chugach.
A scenic train ride brought the volunteers through the forest’s backcountry to the Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop area to control dandelions along trails and developed camping sites. Base camp was setup and volunteers worked along all the developed trails, hiking four miles with a 1,500′ elevation gain. After completing work at Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop area, the volunteers’ vacation continued to the next campsite at Porcupine Campground in Hope, Alaska.
Once settled into their new campground, some of the volunteers took a long hike on the Gull Rock Trail where they documented the extent of non-natives and dug out dandelions. A few members stayed behind and pulled the highly invasive white sweet clover and European bird cherry. And on the last day, the entire group pulled European bird cherries along Resurrection Creek.
Volunteers also worked within the historic town of Hope, Alaska, where local advocates provided information on the extent of the invasive European bird cherry in the Hope area. While the crew was working, a local business (Sourdough Dru’s Gift Shop) also joined in the efforts. Local advocates have been working with private landowners to cut down and treat the large bird cherry trees. Because of this local effort, bird cherry trees are being eliminated.
The USDA Forest Service crew, led by Forest Kenai Peninsula Zone Ecologist, Betty Charon, consisted of seasonal employees Wendy Bryden and Zach Siemsen and Student Conservation Association interns Gloria Miller and Matt Kley.