A Clean Wilson Creek

Type: 
Local
Location: 
Watauga County, NC
Phone: 
(828) 264-2892
Website: 

Seasonal Internship / ACleanWilsonCreek.org & App State Department of Biology

ACleanWilsonCreek NonProfit 501(c)3
436 Grand Blvd.
Boone, N.C. 28607
(828) 264-2892
acleanwilsoncreek@gmail.com

Overview
ACleanWilsonCreek.org is partnering with Appalachian State University Department of Biology to provide two seasonal internship opportunities (May-August timeframe). These opportunities will offer interns an experience that will combine: hands-on river conservation work, teaching and interpretive opportunities, and work with a federal wilderness oversight agency (National Forest Service), with a flora, fauna, or ecology based biology research project.

Goals
1. Interns will provide valuable service and oversight to assist with a growing conservation and protection effort for approximately 15 miles of the nationally designated Scenic River, Wilson Creek, in Caldwell County, North Carolina
2. Interns will complete a project designed to complement their educational goals in the field of Biology (or related), that will in turn contribute to the collection of data needed to promote further conservation and protection efforts for the river, wildlife, riparian zone or surrounding wilderness.
3. Interns will leave the experience with a valuable perspective of the various partnerships and cooperative efforts that must take place in such a venture. This component approach will ensure progress and the accomplishment of tangible, short and long-term goals for providing protection and oversight for a river and wilderness setting that spans multiple jurisdictions. In simpler terms, participation in this project would offer the participant a valuable window into the cultural elements and social dynamics that must be considered when tackling challenging conservation work.

About ACleanWilsonCreek.org
A CLEAN WILSON CREEK (Wilson’s Creek Clean Up Fund 501c(3)
A Clean Wilson Creek, was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 2017 by Bruce Gray, the owner of Betsey’s Country Store and Campground in Mortimer, N.C. Since 2008, Bruce had waged a one man effort, with the help of occasional volunteers, to address a growing trash and misuse problem along one our most beautiful North Carolina Scenic Rivers, Wilson Creek. The organization was restructured in 2018 to gain greater momentum and develop more supportive and expansive partnerships. Since then, the regional, and even state-wide, awareness of this problem has increased, and some significant successes in addressing these issues have taken place. However, much remains to be accomplished toward long-term protection and better oversight.

ACWC has done its best this past year (2019) to preserve and maintain the natural beauty and health of the southern section of the National Wild and Scenic River-Wilson Creek in Caldwell County, NC. With the help of countless volunteers ACWC has removed approximately 30,000 pounds of trash left by recreational users, fisherman and sportsman and with the help and support of volunteer organizations such as the Foothills District BSA; we have also been able to remove huge amounts of flood debris. ACWC main focus for 2019 was the lower 15.4 miles of Wilson Creek waters edge and the riparian zone, in addition we removed roadside debris from approximately 9 miles of Brown Mountain Beach Road (the main access road to the creek) and trash from multiple day use, fishing access points and recreational areas. We have accomplished this with 950+ volunteer hours in 2019, help from local businesses, support from the NFS, Caldwell County’s commissioners, NFS Law Enforcement, the Boy Scouts of America, Wild South, Foothills Conservancy, local residents and many others. While these efforts are resulting in improvements to the trash issue, the problems of volume human impact on the riverfront and fragile riparian zone will continue to be our focus.

The multiple day use areas along Wilson Creek are unique as they are managed by different agencies and in some cases owned by local residents. We have worked hard this past year to build relationships with everyone concerned about the health and preservation of Wilson Creek and will continue to do so.

ACWC partnered with Caldwell County, N.C. Commissioners this summer, resulting in placement of a dumpster at Deer Horn Park (a popular family gathering area on the creek) and 6 portable restrooms placed in high-use areas on Brown Mountain Beach Road during the Labor Day Weekend. Our hope is that adding infrastructure to the high-use areas of the creek during peak months will reduce the amount of human waste and trash being deposited in and around the creek. We would like to continue and expand this program during the 2020 season.

On August 26, 2019, A Clean Wilson Creek and the National Forest Service entered into the NFS Sponsored Volunteer Agreement. The NFS has supplied A Clean Wilson Creek with trash bags, latex gloves and trash grabber tools. With our limited budget, getting the supplies we need to pick up trash is greatly appreciated. The NFS also supplied 12 – 55 gallon trash receptacles to be used during peak holiday weekends, which greatly reduced the number of volunteer hours necessary to clean up after these weekends. The National Forest Service also placed a dumpster on Brown Mountain Beach Road; this not only gave recreational users a place to deposit trash but allowed ACWC to have a place to deposit collected debris at the south end of Brown Mountain Beach Road. Having NFS as a primary partner for 2021 will allow us to continue to maintain and protect Wilson Creek. We look forward to our relationship in 2021.

During the summer months and especially during high-use holiday weekends, ACWC set up an information station, focusing on community outreach and education. This program was very well received by visitors, and our hope it will have a positive impact. Our plan for 1is to continue and improve our outreach and educational programs.

In 2021 we will be expanding our area of responsibility to include an additional 3+ miles of Wilson Creek and riparian zone, the Town of Edgemont, and multiple day-use and fishing access points. One of our goals for 2020 was to purchase our own truck and trailer to haul trash – this was accomplished. Monetary and in-kind donations from local businesses, individuals, fund-raisers, residents and volunteers have been greatly appreciated and we will continue to rely on their support in 2021. ACWC has and will continue to develop relationships with regional businesses and residents on Wilson Creek and beyond. ACWC is in preliminary conversations with Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. in conjunction with the NFS, to add summer interns help with educational outreach to river users. These interns will also study the issues of high-volume human impact on the lower sections of Wilson Creek and present possible solutions at the end of the season. We will work to expand our partnerships with federal, state and county agencies on Wilson Creek, with emphasis on joint partnerships to preserve and maintain the health and beauty of Wilson Creek for generations to come.

Internship roles and responsibilities:
Approximately 15 hours per week per intern would be allotted to working directly with ACWC efforts or related NFS (National Forest Service) staff in a conservation or educational capacity on the river, in the vicinity of the Wilson Creek watershed, or a Pisgah National Forest specified area. This work might entail one or more of the following activities weekly:

▪ River Patrols / conducted daily and sometimes 2x daily on weekends canvassing the high-use recreational areas. This involves direct trash pick up and removal along the roadside, trails and water-front, identification of any misuse or abuse of the area (graffiti, etc.), and positively interacting with recreational users as a representative of ACWC.org.
▪ Educational outreach and conservation promotion: ACWC members occasionally provide roadside information to entering visitors in a “kiosk” style info shelter with a table. Usually we are joined in this effort by Caldwell Co. Law Enforcement and National Forest Service Rangers, etc. Other efforts might include assisting with training and safety instruction for volunteer groups (Boy Scout troops, etc.), as well as oversight in helping with these group clean-up activities.
▪ ACWC hopes to pilot a “river-front’ host initiative this coming 2021 season. This might involve teams of two ACWC representatives walking the high-use areas of the river and positively interacting with recreational users. The approach in this regard, would be that of a friendly host and information source, recognizable by orange vests and radios, but not perceived as “rules enforcement” individuals in any capacity. These persons might distribute garbage bags, inform about ACWC and river protection efforts as opportunities arise, etc.

▪ Possibly working directly with NFS personnel in ancillary projects, assisting one of our partnering organizations in a clean-up or trail maintenance efforts (Wild South.org or Foothills Nature Conservancy).

Benefits provided to the Intern:
Upon meeting the requirements and acceptance of an offered internship:

▪ ACWC.org would provide hourly wages at $9 per hour for these weekly roles, and also would require that the necessary documentation was maintained and turned in by the Intern (ex. River Patrol dates, hours worked, # bags collected, etc. / NFS Official Volunteerism Hour logs, etc.)
▪ ACWC.org would be able to provide assistance with camping, bath house privileges, some meal expenses and possibly mileage reimbursement to some degree. These needs and details would be discussed and arranged individually with the Intern.

Qualifications and Expectations of Applicants:
● Interns should be of good temperament, have strong interpersonal and communication skills, be accepting of diversity among differing personalities and cultures, be able to maintain a positive demeanor when placed in challenging situations, exhibit strong leadership skills and have the ability and willingness to speak publicly and provide group instruction.
● Interns should be physically fit and safety conscious. Components of this work will require foot travel on strenuous, rocky trails, some heavy lifting (full garbage bags), awareness and proper handling of biohazards, and of course, occasional exposure to powerful whitewater river elements in certain areas.
● Safety and first-aid training a plus but not required.
● Bi-lingual abilities a plus (Spanish in particular) but not required.
● Comfort in a remote wilderness setting and camping-hiking skills is of strong benefit.

App State Biology Component
• Students selected for this position can apply the experience towards their required coursework by working with Dr. Shea Tuberty (Professor and Assistant Chair of Student Affairs, tubertysr@appstate.edu, 828-262-6857) or their department contacts to register for BIO3500 Independent Research (1-6hrs), BIO4501 Capstone Independent Research, BIO4900 Internship (1-6hrs), BIO4910 Capstone Internship (3hrs), BIO4518 Honors Research, BIO4519 Honors Thesis, or a similar course in the student’s home department.
• Students research interests in creating flora and fauna species surveys for the Wilson Creek Wilderness/Pisgah National Forest property are encouraged and advising for such an endeavor can be arranged through relevant ASU departmental and SGCA/WSG leadership.
• To Apply: Please email Dr. Tuberty (tubertysr@appstate.edu) your letter of interest (detailing your career goals, interest in this internship, and related personal, course and research experience), and resume or CV (review of applications begins April 30st 2021).