Field Notes: Caelan Vielbig

by | Field Notes, LS 2022, VW 2022

I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of different jobs in the Forest Service here at Cle Elum. The season began with a lot of trail work. I was also able to shadow the botany team and help them prevent beetle infestation. I worked with the heavy equipment operators, observing them use the excavators and bucking the trees for them to move. Later it transitioned into weekend hitches into the wilderness for log-out and public contact. After that, I have done a lot of front country work maintaining the dispersed campsites, toilets, and educating the public about the many regulations and fire precautions.

One of my favorite days thus far has been the time shadowing the botany crew. We went with them to Manastash. There we used what’s called Splat, a gel with pheromones in it to attempt to prevent new infestations of boring beetles. We took the Splat and used caulking guns to paste the gel onto trees in a pattern every 20 or so feet up to about 100 feet from the road. We would walk through the forest splatting as we went. I enjoyed the process because it required us to all work together and maintain a consistent distance and splatting pattern for it to be effective. During this, I learned a lot about the beetle infestations and about various species of trees in this region. By the end of the week, I was able to identify which species were which most of the time.

Another project that sticks in my mind is early in the season when we were with the trail crew building a trail reroute in the Taneum. The reroute was about 100 yards long and went up a hill away from the creek the original trail ran next to. During this project I learned a lot about building the trails and how many small details go into the process. The sloping of both the backslope and the tread itself is angled within certain parameters to prevent them from washing away during snowmelt or rain. The trail is also built in a wavy way with small inclines and declines in elevation so that water cannot build up speed leading to a longer-lasting tread. It was also a satisfying experience to work with the trail crew in a line. While building new tread we would often get into a line with the first person breaking up the soil with a Pulaski, the next one or two using McClouds to pull the loose soil down the slope, and the last one using a shovel to toss the dirt further down the slope to prevent false sides.

This season has been an interesting experience so far with lots of variety and opportunities to grow. With the season over half over I am finding myself in a different job than when I started and I have enjoyed the transition and options available to me.