VetsWork: Wrapping Up on the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest

by | VetsWork

My internship on the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest, with the Conasauga Ranger District continues to go very well. Much has happened since my last blog in September. Since then, I have upgraded my chainsaw qualifications to “B” sawyer, which allows me to fell trees in addition to bucking and limbing. I have also completed my tractor certification, and finished required training which allowed me to obtain a “Red Card” for wildland firefighting and prescribed burns.

Since September, I have been assigned to work with the timber crew. We have been very busy cruising timber for upcoming timber sales. I have learned a great deal and I am having a lot of fun as well. I have marked boundary lines, banded leave trees, counted trees, and assessed tree heights. Timber cruising requires a great deal of knowledge and skill and it is also physically demanding. The crew here on the district has been awesome to work with and they have provided me with a great experience. If time permits, I will become certified in timber cruising before my internship is over. In addition to my time with timber I have done some projects with the wildlife crew. In October, we teamed up with Georgia’s DNR and did a fish shocking study on the Conasauga and Jacks rivers in the wilderness area. This required hiking lots of equipment over three miles to the rivers where we donned our waders and hauled our nets and shocking equipment into the rivers to catch whatever fish we could over a 200 meter stretch of water. All the fish were then separated by species, weighed, measured, and documented before being released back into the river.

I had the opportunity to complete my tractor hours by applying herbicide to several wildlife openings that are being seeded in preparation for grouse habitat. I also assisted in creating plots to study Georgia Aster, a rare wild flower. This was conducted by laying out a 50 x 30 meter grid system in two separate locations on the district and annotating presents or absents in each grid square.

In October, my CAP project was completed with the help of 30 volunteers who helped plant over 40 hemlock trees along a local trout stream on Forest Service land. Save Georgia’s Hemlocks and the Blue Ridge chapter of Trout Unlimited sponsored this project. Excellent weather, a beautiful location and great people from various organizations including the Nature Conservancy, Georgia Forestry Commission, Dalton College students, USFS, Trout Unlimited, and locals enhanced the day of the project. This successful event was published in the Chatsworth Times.

As my internship is nearing the end I can’t believe how much I have accomplished and how fast time has gone by. I do not know what the future has in store for me now, but I do know I have been set up for success through this program and the good graces of the Conasauga Ranger district. I know I can perform a variety of jobs within land management and wildlife management agencies to include recreation, wildlife, timber, and fire. Now it’s time to go out and secure that dream job!