Tag Archives: Canaan Valley

Definitely wouldn’t do that with kudzu…

Today we are hearing from Mallory Gyovai, an AmeriCorps intern at Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge in West Virginia.

Invasive species management is a prevalent issue at any national wildlife refuge, but it is especially important at Canaan Valley NWR. With its unique ecosystem that has been noted as “a little bit of Canada, gone astray”, the battle against non-native and invasive competitors is fought fiercely. Generally, our invasive species list targets those hard to remove ones, like Japanese stilt grass and autumn olive, but we also target different areas of the refuge that need to remain in the successional habitat that they currently are. So, when the biology team began to discuss the grasslands and shrublands located throughout the refuge, the presence of juvenile non-native Scotch pines within those ecosystems were also mentioned.

AmeriCorps intern Mallory Gyovai showing off a “Charlie Brown” Christmas Tree/Credit Lauren Merrill

AmeriCorps intern Mallory Gyovai showing off a
“Charlie Brown” Christmas Tree/Credit Lauren Merrill

That is when an idea struck. What if we removed the pines, which are the most common species of Christmas tree in the United States, and host an event that gives back to the community? It would be an invasive species management themed tree giveaway that would offer the community a chance to get together, enjoy hot chocolate and candy canes, learn about invasive species management on the refuge, and provide trees to people who may not have otherwise been able to get one! Instead of letting the “Charlie Brown” looking trees lay where they are, we loaded up trucks and brought them to our Visitor’s Center.

Refuge visitor loads a Scotch pine

Refuge visitor loads a Scotch pine

The event lasted two days, in the midst of a snowstorm, and we had 64 brave souls come out and pick up 57 of our trees. They were sent home with information on how to recycle their tree after the holiday season, a little piece of Canaan Valley NWR, and warm wishes from the volunteers and staff. This small gesture for our community went a long way, and many people were so grateful for the opportunity. Who would have thought that one person’s nuisance invasive species could be another’s holiday tradition?

The Canaan Valley NWR YCC Crew, summer 2015. (Photo caption: Holly Black, USFWS.)

Meet the Crew @ Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge in West Virginia!

We’ve been sharing posts about our Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) crews this week. Today we’ll hear from the dedicated YCC crew from Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge (NWR).

The Canaan Valley NWR YCC crew worked on important conservation projects this summer, spending their days among the diverse wildlife and habitats in the valley. Canaan Valley NWR, in Davis, WV, is home to the largest wetland complex in the state, and the highest large valley east of the Rockies. The valley floor is 8,500 acres of unique wetlands, with forested walls and trails that climb to amazing valley views.

The Canaan Valley NWR YCC Crew, summer 2015. (Photo caption: Holly Black, USFWS.)

The Youth Conservation Corps crew at Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge on an educational hike to Seneca Rocks, summer 2015. (Photo caption: Holly Black.)

The YCC program provides opportunities for youth to perform meaningful conservation work while learning about the natural environment, wildlife, and natural resources. The youth also have the opportunity to learn about the natural world through hands-on refuge biological activities.

Teamwork, learning and work ethic are stressed as an integral part of the program.

The YCC crew at Canaan Valley NWR hard at work tearing out a destructive beaver dam. The beavers gave them a run for their money, as the crew had to go back three more time! (Photo credit: Holly Black.)

The YCC crew at Canaan Valley NWR hard at work tearing out a destructive beaver dam. The beavers gave them a run for their money – the crew had to go back three more times! (Photo credit: Holly Black.)

The YCC crew at Canaan Valley NWR has been a really hard-working team, says YCC crew leader Holly Black. This summer the crew worked on an amazing variety of activities, including installing fence post, pulling fence post, tearing out a destructive beaver dam, gardening work, cleaning ditches, truck maintenance, monitoring bluebird boxes, bat monitoring, and water quality monitoring.

The YCC crew at Canaan Valley NWR monitored bluebird boxes for new eggs, abandoned nests and empty boxes. (Photo credit: Holly Black.)

Among their many tasks, the YCC crew at Canaan Valley NWR monitored bluebird boxes for new eggs, abandoned nests and empty boxes. (Photo credit: Holly Black.)

Among their many tasks, the YCC crew at Canaan Valley NWR monitored bluebird boxes for new eggs, abandoned nests, or empty boxes.

The YCC crew notes their observations during bluebird box monitoring. (Photo credit: Holly Black.)

The crew also went on educational hikes, and found the time to make a bench!

Hear from crew members Jared, Natalie, Jameson and Elizabeth about their experiences at Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge this summer:

Why did you want to work at the refuge this summer?

Jared: To go outside, do something different and meet new people.
Natalie: To be outdoors and to earn money.
Jameson: Get some work to do and learn about wildlife.
Elizabeth: To get experience.

What is your favorite thing about working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service? What activities do you enjoy the most?

Jared: The learning experience and I enjoy the hikes.
Natalie: I enjoyed taking out fence post and working with the bluebird boxes.
Jameson: Getting to meet the workers and learning about how they got their job. I enjoy weed-eating and maintenance work.
Elizabeth: Hikes and maintenance.

What is your favorite animal and why?

Jared: The eagle because it represents freedom and because it is an awesome bird.
Natalie: Bluebirds, because we learned what habitats they live in and we got to see how long it takes for them to hatch.
Jameson: White-tail deer, because I’m a big hunter and love how they live and adapt.
Elizabeth: Deer, because I see them a lot and they are pretty.

Bluebird box monitoring was one of many favorite activities for the YCC crew, (Photo credit: Holly Black.)

Bluebird box monitoring was one of many favorite activities for the YCC crew at Canaan Valley NWR. (Photo credit: Holly Black.)

Do you plan to continue with your interest in wildlife and environmental conservation after the summer?

Jared: Yes, I want to learn more about wildlife, the environment and maintenance.
Natalie: Yes. I want to study marine biology in college.
Elizabeth: Probably more than I would have before, because I am more aware now.

The YCC crew performs monitoring for bats on a beautiful summer day in Cannan Valley. (Photo caption; Holly Black.)

The YCC crew performs bat monitoring on a beautiful summer day in Cannan Valley. (Photo caption; Holly Black.)

The YCC program lasts for approximately 8 weeks each summer, and takes place at numerous National Wildlife Refuges. For more information, including how to apply to the program, click here.

See more stories from the YCC 2015 crews!

Wednesday Wisdom – Emily Dickinson

During the month of March, we will be celebrating Women’s History Month by sharing quotes from female conservationists, authors and maybe a few unknowns. One thing they all have in common is a love for nature. Today, we bring you Emily Dickinson and the beauty of the Blackwater River at Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

Beauty is not caused. It is.

Original image by Gerri Wilson