A Historic private-public partnership that would make the legendary Civilian Conservation Corps proud just launched in Marlton, New Jersey. In early March, a crew from American Conservation Experience (ACE) youth conservation corps got busy restoring degraded wetlands on the Mullica River Mitigation Project for GreenVest. GreenVest founder and CEO Doug Lashley graciously invited ACE to participate in the project, so after specifically training to work on sustainable aquatic restoration projects the North Carolina-based crew headed to the Garden State to start work and set-up camp nearby in the beautiful Pinelands of Wharton State Forest.
As the only youth conservation corps member of the NMBA, ACE has offices in Arizona, California, Utah, North Carolina, and America Samoa, and for many years has worked on projects nationwide to restore degraded land and water resources. The Mullica River project is the first mitiation bank installation for ACE. Working closely with GreenVest Project Manager, Doug Schneider, the ACE crew built woven wire fencing to protect future plantings from a hungry deer population and an active ATV community. The planting phase of the project will begin mid-April when ACE and GreenVest will plant many bare root stems, and many more thousands of plants of various shapes and sizes. After some early work on the project, Schneider remarked “The crew that ACE provided is off to an excellent start and we are making great progress.”
After the terrain was sculpted and the wetlands began to take shape, the crew quickly noticed an increase in wildlife returning to the area. Spring Peeper frogs are heard while red-tailed hawks and bald eagle roam the skies. The future goals and outcomes of this project will be revealed in 5 years when the fencing will be removed and the restored wetlands habitat will be a full-fledged thriving ecosystem.
The ACE members on the Mullica River Project prepared by participating in Field Sport Concepts affiliate Trout Headwaters, Inc. (THI) Waders in the Water, Level 1 training. The nationally recognized training and certification program provides youth corps members with the skills and capacity to professionally complete aquatic restoration projects while preparing them for careers in the private restoration industry.
This collaborative effort with GreenVest has provided an excellent opportunity for ACE members to gain experience on private habitat restoration projects while providing companies like GreenVest with a motivated labor force that has been schooled and certified in safety and sustainable restoration fundamentals.
After completing some work on the project, ACE corps member Thadeus Miriello commented “It has been incredible to see quick results from our work and to be a part of a large scale restoration project. Doug Schneider is an enthusiastic project manager and has been excellent to work with.”
The opportunity to support GreenVest has really blossomed into a fantastic working relationship and fostered a new partnership between ACE and the New Jersey Youth Corps. Members of the New Jersey Youth Corps in Phillipsburg just completed their own Waders in the Water training and this summer will partner with ACE corps members to plant native species in and around the wetlands in late summer 2015.
Ace President Chris Baker stated “While working on this project with GreenVest has been a big boost to ACE’s new Southeast Branch located in Asheville, NC, it has also helped us understand the nuanced needs of private restoration companies.” He added “since starting discussions with GreenVest, ACE has put in place some efficiencies and systems to better respond to the labor demands of private restoration companies and we look forward to working on other mitigation projects.”
This article was written by American Conservation Experience (ACE) President Chris Baker. ACE is a 501 (c) non-profit and national leader in recruiting, coordinating, and training volunteers to undertake practical environmental restoration projects in America’s national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and other public lands as well as private restoration projects.
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