Updates & Stories

Working in City Parks

Dogs. They are an unmistakable part of my everyday. They are there with their owners or shall we say… chaperones on the paths, running through the woods or in a dog park. Big ones, small ones, shaggy ones… well you get the picture. They are everywhere. Dogs are only one of the many perks of doing urban conservation work. (And why is it again that they always look like their owners?) Read More

All Corps Day: Housing Issues & Environmental Justice

On four separate days out of a ten month service, Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa puts together special community service days formally referred to as All Corps Days. These days are meant to introduce corps members of different programs to one another while learning about the environmental issues facing the Twin Cities. The first All Corps Day took place on April 1 and focused on housing issues and environmental justice. Read More

Why we cut

Cutting down trees to conserve them seems counter intuitive to some. When I first joined the corps I wasn’t aware of why we were cutting down trees besides to remove them for prairie restoration. Not only do we cut down trees for prairies restoration, but also to promote sprouts from the tree roots, to remove invasive species and to slow down the spread of disease and bug infestations. Read More

A Logger’s Education

Two weeks ago our crew volunteered to work with DNR forestry to help burn and monitor slash piles. We didn't receive much more information than that, but burning is always fun. We drove toward White Bear Lake and I watched the terrain become slightly more forested, but only because it became more residential. Large suburban houses poked out of the maple stands. We pulled into a cul-de-sac and drove to the end where two muddy ruts dove through a small field past some lumber piles and a DNR van before disappearing into a pine stand. We got out of the truck as Art, the project host, approached us. In the forest I could see a skidder grappling piles of brush and dropping them onto a roaring bonfire. Beyond that I saw a field and then a playground and then a school. Read More

Conserving Through Generations

Incidentally, this first post about my grandfather falls on a fortuitous date. On April 5, 1933 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill creating the CCC in America. Then called the Emergency Conservation Work Program, it conveyed a message of hope to the young men in America. The recession we are facing now is not as grave as it was then. Unlike my grandfather, most of my friends and family are currently employed, most Americans have no trouble putting food on the table and the wages I earn through the Corps don’t get sent to dependents back home. However, Conservation Corps still instills ethical values in and gives hope to its hardworking youth. For while time may run linearly, everything, even back breaking work and service to family and country, churns in circular patterns, connecting the past to the present and to the future. Read More

Mothers needn’t worry

The Conservation Corps is also very concerned with my well-being. Less “Put on a jacket, it’s cold out,” and more “Don’t cut your leg off with that chainsaw.” The Corps takes safety and preparedness extremely seriously. Upon joining the Corps, each member is issued a full suite of personal protective equipment (PPE) that we will use through the rest of the year including task-specific hardhats, ear protection, multiple pairs of safety glasses, Kevlar-lined boots, chainsaw chaps, and gloves. Even better, the gloves and boots fit, the chaps are new, and prescription safety glasses are an option. Read More

After the Flood

It was easy to complain about the mold. There was nothing good to say about it, and for weeks our crew had stared at little else. Last December, I was part of the third Conservation Corps of Minnesota Hurricane Sandy Deployment. Our primary work involved going into flooded houses and gutting the moldy sheet-rock and insulation. The mold soaked our gloves, it stunk up our clothes, and it seemed to never end, growing worse by the day. But we worked at the mold, house after house, block after block for eight hours a day, six days a week, for a month. Read More

Finding the Switch

Being on a Youth Outdoors crew in South Minneapolis is like walking into a dark room and not knowing where the light switch is. You cautiously open the door, reach across all the obvious areas of the wall, and hope that the house was built after 1925. Then… finally as you are crouch behind a desk with your hand between stacks of books, you finally find the switch. And “aha!” you get it. Something amazing happens. Or literally, the light comes on. Read More

First Weeks: Blue Smurf Pee and the Coolest Work Ever

For our crew's first project this year, we basal-sprayed buckthorn at a section of Fort Snelling State Park. The project was an ideal introduction to a typical day in Conservation Corps. Gridding allowed us to familiarize ourselves while becoming equally acquainted with the shiny bark and spiny outline of our most common foe. As we stepped from sapling to sapling, bent over, visually focusing on each silver stem and mentally trying to focus on the riddles we shared with each other to pass the time, we occasionally came across blue patches in the snow near or beneath rabbit droppings. Read More

Introducing the 2013 Field Crew bloggers

Sean Fleming Crew: Central Roving Hometown: Alexandria, Minnesota College:… Read More