Greetings, welcome to the concise memoir of Patrick Ford, an AmeriCorps intern at the Andrew Pickens Ranger District (AP). Walk with me as I take you on a journey through the mountain range of South Carolina and the incredible time I’ve had while working with the Forest Service. First, we will explore my time with recreation and how we maintain the integrity of our public lands. We will explore a few ways we strive to sustain a healthy forest and close with talks of preservation and the importance of fire discipline. Follow along as we explore the Sumter National Forest and the memories I’ve made along the way.
Since the beginning of March, I have spent a great deal of my time assisting recreation technicians with maintaining trails and highly trafficked areas. Often, I would lend a hand with waste disposal at a campground or help educate visitors with tips on how to properly care for the environment they cherished so much. There were days when we would use a crosscut saw to remove fallen trees blocking a trail or picked up litter that failed to make it into a trash bin. We would also take time out to instruct visitors on how to properly navigate the forest and the importance of Leave No Trace. Rather we were repairing a broken bridge, fixing a trail, or just making sure the latrines were clean there was never a dull moment while out with recreation.
The forest that embellished our treasured campgrounds is truly a sight to behold however I didn’t fully understand how much effort was involved in sustaining its lush green background until I worked with timber. Most mornings we would trek into the woods while the Sun was barely peaking over the canopy and the temperature was low. We’d set up traps to lure in gypsy moths and the southern pine beetle; an invasive species of pest that caused disease in some of the flora here. At times, we would set out to inject Hemlock trees with an insecticidal fluid that would fight wooly adelgid, a destructive insect not native to the U.S., which threatened both the eastern and the Carolina hemlock. Truthfully there is so many different tasks I was fortunate to accomplish with the silviculture department however it was not the last stop I made during my stent at the district.
I also worked with a fire crew after receiving my red card during a training course at Clemson University. A red card is a document used to certify that an individual has acquired the proper training to deal with wildland fires and prescribed burns. The days I conducted prescribed burns were very long but even more rewarding. I helped a few engines manage 500 acres of forest land during a prescribed burn which helped reduce the fuel loads that could cause natural wildfires. We aimed to promote an early successional habitat that would improve grasslands, shrubs, and forbs. A few resources vital to the ecosystem and the future of Sumter National Forest.
During my time at the Andrew Pickens Ranger District I’ve learned that every member of the forest service is an importance piece in the machine that keeps our forest alive and well. It puts a smile on my face knowing how much I’ve learned in such a short period of time and how much more there is to come. I hope I continue to grow during my time here at AP and that the environment we live in is better for it as well. I want to thank You for following along on this journey with me but for now I must say farewell.