Conservation Journal: Connor P.

The Lakes Region Conservation Corps (LRCC) is an AmeriCorps service program that develops skills and experiences for conservation professionals. LRCC members are the driving force behind the Squam Lakes Association’s conservation efforts. The program provides hands-on conservation work experience and numerous certifications over a broad range of areas, which ensures that LRCC members are capable of independently approaching a variety of tasks in the environmental conservation field. Members remove invasive species from the Squam watershed, manage and act as caretakers at our backcountry campsites, maintain the SLA’s 50+ miles of trails, educate the public on local and regional conservation initiatives, spearhead reports on conservation efforts, lead SLA volunteer crews and ensure the daily functioning of the Squam Lakes Association’s programs. Click here to learn more about the LRCC program.

August 7, 2018

Connor P.

This past week I had the opportunity to work with the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) of the Pemi district of the Forest Service. It was a great chance to work alongside young conservationists and introduce them to the type of projects we work on at the Squam Lakes Association. We started on Wednesday by going out on the lake and joining our dive crew as they were surveying and removing variable milfoil. While we were there, I discussed the importance of aquatic invasive species management and how necessary it is to keep an eye out for invasive species throughout all parts of our waterbodies. Our dive crew provided an example of variable milfoil, as well as some native plants that look similar to it, and the YCC members were able to jump in and help with the surveying process. Although the water was fairly frigid, they managed to spot some patches where the invasive plant was found, which allowed the removal crew to save some time with surveying. We then went on a brief tour of the lake and talked about the importance of maintaining a healthy watershed and how it pertains to water quality in the lake. On our way back to shore, we made a pit-stop on Moon Island, and explored the island as I told them about the camping opportunities that the SLA provides.

On Friday, we set out for trail work along Old Highway trail. There were some pretty significant blow downs that needed attention, as there were paths going around that compromised the integrity of the trail. After hours of sawing and moving logs in the stupid humidity, we managed to clear the trail and block up the false paths that people were taking to bypass the downed trees. It’s always a rewarding experience being able to see your efforts restore the conditions of a trail, and we finally remembered to take before and after pictures of the work site, which so often slips our minds. Although we completed the trail needs for the day, there was still work to be done, as exhausted as we were. When we returned to the SLA, we set about removing some terrestrial invasive species around the campus. I was surprised they were still able to work as efficiently as they did, pulling oriental bittersweet and japanese barberry with only minimal complaints. As the day drew to a close, I was sad to see them go. Not only are six extra pairs of hands helpful for days like these, but seeing their enthusiasm for working in the outdoors is great to experience as well. I know they’ll go on to do great things in the conservation field.

Connor is from Sioux City, Iowa. This is his third summer with the SLA, but his first summer serving with AmeriCorps! He graduated from Saint John’s University in Minnesota with a degree in Biology. Click here to read Connor's bio.

Join our LRCC members for weekly guided hikes, volunteer opportunities, and environmental programs. Learn more by clicking here.