What I’ve Been Up To

Several times a week I am asked what I do.  Well, it’s kinda complicated.  Not really.  It’s just a little hard to explain.

I am currently a member of AmeriCorps St Louis Emergency Response Team (AC STL ERT for short).  We are a state and national resource in response to natural and man-made disasters.

Now, you’re probably scratching your head asking, why aren’t you guys in Arkansas or Mississippi or Florida?  Why haven’t you done something about the tornadoes or the flooding?  Well, it isn’t that easy.

You see, we cannot self deploy.  As a resource, we have to be requested by the state or by the Federal government (FEMA).  As of now, we have only been requested out in Kansas to help set up the MARC (Multi-Agency Resource Center) and assist with their VRC (Volunteer Reception Center).

In the meantime, while not on disaster, the ERT does Conservation projects throughout the state of Missouri.  We work alongside the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the US Forest Service (USFS), as well as several other organizations throughout the state.

All of us have our Red Card Certification for Wildland Firefighting and our Felling Certifications for Chainsaws (most of us are A Fellers, though we have several B Fellers among our ranks).  Several of us also received the opportunity to take the Public Operator License Exam for Pesticide use (Right-of-Way) through MDC.  Others have received UTV and ATV training through MDC and USFS.

Fire Season has come and past.  Over the past several months we have participated in several Prescribed Fire Operations and responded to a number of Wildfires alongside MDC and the USFS.

We’ve been doing a ton of Invasive Species work lately.  Most of it involves cutting and/or spraying it with herbicide.  I personally have dealt with Spotted Knapweed, Teasel, Japanese and Bush Honeysuckle, Autumn Olive, Black Locust, Garlic Mustard, and Crown Vetch (I’m sure I’m missing one or two here, but whatever).

We either run around with Backpack Sprayers or, in rare cases, spray via the UTV.  It’s not the most glamorous work, but I enjoy it every once in a while.

Other projects we do are Glade and Prairie Restoration, which basically includes cutting out all the pines and/or cedar trees in the area.  Many times we refer to these projects as Cedarcide.

Other times we are felling undesirable trees for Timber Stand Improvement and thinning operations.  Many of these projects have ended due to the fact that the trees and snags that we would be removing are habitat trees for several species of furry critters, including bats.

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So that’s a basic summary of what I do. I’ve left out a bit, but that’s the basics.

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