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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Mingo National Wildlife Refuge Gets Trail Maintenance Help from its YCC Crew

Region 3, July 2, 2012
YCC with crew leader Emily Shaffer spreading the crushed rock on the Rocky Bluff Trail.
YCC with crew leader Emily Shaffer spreading the crushed rock on the Rocky Bluff Trail. - Photo Credit: n/a
YCC clearing the Rocky Bluff trail and installing water bars.
YCC clearing the Rocky Bluff trail and installing water bars. - Photo Credit: n/a
Cutting autumn olive along the Hartz Pond Trail.
Cutting autumn olive along the Hartz Pond Trail. - Photo Credit: n/a
Trimming the grass back around Hartz Pond.
Trimming the grass back around Hartz Pond. - Photo Credit: n/a

The Mingo National Wildlife Refuge Youth Conservation Corps has been busy this summer assisting refuge staff on a number of jobs. One of their main projects so far this summer has been refurbishing the Rocky Bluff Trail and the Hartz Pond Trail. Both of these trails originate from the parking lot for the site of the new Mingo visitor center, which is currently in the construction process. With the parking lot closed for much of the past year due to construction, these two trails received little use and attention. With the visitor center nearing completion date, fixing up the trails became a high priority for Mingo staff.

 

The Rocky Bluff Trail is a short quarter of a mile trail that goes through some rugged terrain. The trail starts off near the visitor center and winds its way down a steep bluff to a bottomland hardwood forest and the start of the Swampwalk Nature Trail. Due to the steep topography, much of the rock on the trail had been washed away and soil erosion was starting to become an issue. To combat this, the YCC crew first cleared the trail completely and put in wooden water bars to allow for runoff to drain across the trail without causing erosion.

Next, the YCC, with the help of Mingo staff, began hauling crushed rock with wheelbarrows up the trail to spread out across the entire length. The steep terrain made this a difficult task but the YCC was able to get the trail completely covered with rock and ready for use. When the visitor center opens, the Rocky Bluff trail will provide visitors with a chance to experience the diversity of Mingo’s upland forests as they transition down to the bottomland habitat.

The next trail the YCC crew had on their list was the Hartz Pond Trail. This nature trail winds through an upland forest and has a number of small clearings with outdoor theater seating which makes it ideal for school groups and large events. The main issue with this trail was clearing it of autumn olive, which had taken over the understory and overgrown the trail. To help knock back the autumn olive, the YCC crew cleared the entire length of the trail of this invasive shrub. After they cut the stumps, refuge staff followed along and applied herbicide to the cut stump to ensure that the autumn olive would not sprout back. Through the YCC’s hard work, the trail is now more accessible to visitors and they also provided a great deal of help in removing invasive plant species at Mingo National Wildlife Refuge.

Through these two trail projects, the YCC crew has helped to provide visitors with a chance to experience some of Mingo’s upland forest habitat. As the visitor center nears completion, it is only a matter of time before these trails get plenty of use from school groups and visitors of Mingo National Wildlife Refuge. Visit us online!

Contact Info: Peter Rea, 573-222-3589, peter_rea@fws.gov