Noah with the old fence

Today we had a special treat: Members of the always awesome California Conservation Corps joined forces with the Boy Scouts as the San Gabriel Mountains Trailbuilders coordinated a number of volunteer projects at the Rincon Education Center located within the Angeles National Forest of the San Gabriel Mountains.

There were a number of projects needed to be completed at Rincon, first and foremost the Boy Scouts needed to remove an old decayed fence at the Education Center and install a much better fence which would be built properly, complete with wood which would withstand the environmental difficulties: termites, harsh Sunlight, children swinging from the railing and standing on the rails.

For that fence project, Eagle Award Candidate Noah Gershon would be planning, designing, funding, organizing, and supervising the new fence work, with tools, materials, and equipment provided by a number of individuals and organizations (with electricity provided by the U. S. Fores Service.) Technical assistance on assuring that the fence's uprights were plumb and were treated property for the environmental conditions was provided a great deal by Ben White, President of the Trailbuilders.

While the fence was being built the California Conservation Corp's first task for the day was to meet with the Trailbuilders to hold a daily Jon Hazard Analysis where a discussion of the local flora and fauna to worry about was covered, and a review of the day's volunteer work was offered.

Because the Rincon Education Center is around 2,000 feet altitude, Poison Oak grows extensively in the area where work was to be done. To assist in alleviating that problem we had skin lotion which promises to assist in barricading the chemicals from the plan from one's skin, and two bottles of the stuff was passed around.

After the safety and medical review, the crews started working with McLeods and shovels to remove growth away from the concrete dogbone barricade which keeps motorized vehicles from gaining access to the Rincon Shortcut which is currently closed in the aftermath of the heavy rains which has caused extensive damage along the road.

The growth needed to be removed three feet or more so that rebar could be cut and bent around the dogbones and then so that the rebar could be welded in to place to slow-down people picking apart the barricade and driving illegally on the road. Unauthorized vehicles on the road is a serious problem given the dry environmental problems we are seeing across Southern California as the climate continues to dry and hot exhaust parking on brush before a bigger and bigger threat to the National Forests.

The CCC clearing growth

That threat is a very real one. We have seen the dogbones picked apart and vehicles get on to the Shortcut illegally, and we have just recently had the Williams Fire allegedly started when an individual parked illegally on dry brush with his vehicle which sparked a very expensive fire suppression effort. So strengthening the barricade has been something of a priority for me for the past year or so, ever since the project began.

Getting the California Conservation Corp in there to remove the brush and make a fire line for us so that the welder could finish the job was quick, complete, and typical of the CCC's hard work ethic. They did the wide line down to the dirt on both sides of the barricade quickly so that the welders could get in and finish the barricade's defenses.

When the dogbones were clear of consumables the CCC started clearing the access path which leads from the Rincon parking area to the Education Center. This is a short access path which assist people to park and then walk to the Ed Center without having to step on to Highway 39 which has vehicle traffic pretty much lightly during any day, with peak traffic becoming heavy during the Summer months.

What's great about this short access path is that it crosses Micro-Climate areas, very small regions which can be just tens of feet across whose climate artifacts (dense ferns, for example) are different than the surrounding environmental artifacts (such as dry chapparal.)

Along the access path is a fairly moist Riparian Area which is the result of collected rainfall which gets funneled through this area and crosses the foot path. At the point where the stream crosses the path were was extensive Trailbulder work to direct the stream literally about three feet so that the coming years of erosion would be nearly eliminated.

Well, what we saw was that the Trailbuilder design worked absolutely flawlessly, despite the heavy rains that we had a month ago and despite the massive amount of water that came through across the foot path, there was literally no detectable erosion thanks to the boulders which had been moved around, chipped in to shape, and laid down in various positions to provide a suitable sluice for the high volume water.

After the access path was reworked from end to end the CCC and some of the Trailbuilders joined Trailbuilders already working on the Nature Trail on the other side of the Education Center. That trail is also a short trail, affording small children the opportunity to walk among heavy oak trees and pine trees, ferns, poison oak, and allow them to walk across two wooden foot bridges which span a seasonal creek.

The Nature Trail got worked end to end, then the CCC was asked to clear accumulated debris from around the outside perimeter of the fence. While they worked on that some of the Trailbuilders worked on excavating accumulated dirt at the Ed Center's gate, digging out the metal trench where the gate's wheels roll in, oiling the mechanisms, scraping the asphalt and moving soil to where plants could use it, sweeping things up and basically making things look clean and pretty!

During all of this the Boy Scouts continued to work on the fence, even as Trailbuilders left return back down the mountain while others continued on for safety oversight of the continuing work. Toward evening work was suspended for the day. On the following day the rest of the fence work was completed.

The new fence going in

Everything that we asked the California Conservation Corp to do got gone and was done quickly, and this is something we have always seen when they work with the Trailbuilders: These are fairly young men and women who come to the mountains tasked with working, some times the job is fairly easy, light work like it was today, and other times the work can be hard, difficult, hot, sweaty, brutal work, and the CCC has always some with an "I will do this!" attitude no matter what the tasks are.

Also it was great seeing Noah's Eagle Scout project completed so well. The need for a suitable, strong fence should help keep people from simply walking off the upper part of the grass and falling on their faces if they should happen to just step off in to air. Now there is a good fence to help remind them, well, not to be clumsy.

And of course my personal favorite: The concrete dogbone barricade was finished at last.

Should I mention that everyone had a good time?

Oh! That reminds me! Toward the end of the day I was lugging four long tools toward the gate and I asked a young Boy Scout if he would like to help me carry two of the tools to the gate. "No. I'm good" was what he said. I had to laugh, and the CCC woman who was also carrying tools to the gate with me also had to laugh. She noted that kids today are honest enough to tell you to "take a hike," as it were.

* Noah standing in front of the old fence which needs to be replaced
* The CCC clear combustables from dogbones down to dirt
* When the ground is clear the welding effort gets planned and started
* The access path from the Rincon Shortcut parking area to the Ed Center
* Some of the boulder stair work that the Trailbuilders establihed years ago
* A look at the on-going work on the access path in the main drainage area
* A look at the slightly-diverted stream which stopped erosion on the trail
* Installing additional heavy boulders along the main drainage of the path
* Some of the reworked access path. Poison oak in here!
* The CCC bringing the trail down to dirt along the entire access path
* All brush and leaves removed from along the concrete barricade
* The CCC working along the access path to the Education Center
* The Boy Scouts putting the verticle fence posts in
* Ben White of the Trailbuilders making sure the posts are plumb!
* Some of the old decaying fence mixed in with the new fence materials
* The new fence project again
* The access path to the Education Center is basically completed!
* The Education Center's Nature Trail, wide and down to dirt!
* The Education Center's perimiter fence gets debris removed
* The Education Center's perimiter fence gets debris removed
* The Nature Trail on the way to the Upper Bridge
* Here is the wonderful Upper Bridge that the Trailbuilders built years ago
* The wood railing and footing on the Upper Bridge are in great shape
* The trail after the Upper Bridge, the entire Nature Trail is completed
* A look back at the Upper Bridge from the other side. FLowing water!
* Here's a look at the other stone stair steps along the access path
* Returning to the fence project much of the fence has been built
* Volunteers work on sealing the wood going in to the new fence
* The verticle posts are seated firmly in to the ground without concrete
* Coming toward completion of the first leg of the new fence
* Trailbuilder Bron takes it easy and relaxes while performing oversight
* Trailbuilder Bron relaxing in the shade. LOL! Dude, wake up!
* The finished new fence! Looks so clean! Looks great!
* A closer look at the new fence. The grounds were even cleaned up!

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