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2022 LRCC Conservation Journals

June 23, 2022 - Fallon

“Give me six hours to cut down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” -Abraham Lincoln


Never in my life had I laid a finger on an axe until serving with the Lakes Region Conservation Corps (LRCC). In this world of modern technology and leaving the ways of the past. . .well, in the past, I figured the days of using the traditional axe were gone, but the US Forest Service proved otherwise. These modern day lumberjacks and their nicest flannels showed us novice folk everything having to do with axes; from safety, to sharpening, and to the fun part: chopping.

The aforementioned Honest Abe quote rings true to this nickname, as I spent a good chunk of my day sharpening my axe with this quote dancing circles within my brain. Sharpening an axe brings one to such a trance-like, meditative state that even the eldest monks would be jealous. While in this zen state my senses were heightened and my attention to detail was piqued. One must be mindful of everything. Listen to the specific tune the file makes when strumming the axe, if the notes are off, start from the top and play the tune again until the notes are so beautiful that the axe starts to shed delicate metallic tears. Both faces of the axe must be equally serenaded before reaching the roaring applause of the forest. Taking pride in the performance and art of sharpening is paramount, you will only get from the axe what it receives.

After snapping out of my sharpening trance, it was time to switch my consciousness over to battleaxe* woman* mentality. Wood chips flying towards my eyes (behind goggles, of course) never felt so good. I was serving Paul Bunyon realness and it gave me an empowering adrenaline rush like I’ve never felt before. Hype around cutting a tree in half has been well concealed, because if I knew how good this accomplishment would feel, I would have asked Santa for an axe years and years ago. I am so grateful for the US Forest Service, some of these fields are thought to be strictly male dominated, and seeing women leading this workshop made me so strong, proud, safe, and confident.

In just over a month of serving with LRCC I have learned so much. Aside from the ins and outs of axes, I have gained knowledge in trail work, erosion control, all of the different types of ticks and the diseases they carry and how to safely remove them so you do not contract said diseases, so many types of life jackets, red right returning, backcountry first aid essentials, checking a spine, how to mouse-proof a home, and sort of how to use a wood stove. If I learned all of this in just a few weeks, I cannot begin to imagine what other knowledge I will accumulate in the coming months. So far, serving with LRCC has been a rewarding, challenging, and an empowering experience, and I am looking forward to more lessons to come.

June 17, 2022 - Anna

As I stock the wood stove at Mead Base Conservation Center on this chilly evening in June, I can’t help but feel a warmth beyond the crackling fire before me – an inner warmth of fulfillment that I’ve felt since joining the LRCC AmeriCorps program in May. As a New Hampshire native with family in the lakes region, I grew up hiking on trails in the area, some of which were and still are owned and managed by the Lakes Region Conservation Trust (LRCT), the host site I now serve with. Since starting this position, my perspective has shifted in a
number of ways. With my growing knowledge of conservation easements, in addition to admiring the expansive views from summits, I now also consider how different the views might look like if they were not protected through conservation efforts. From the front porch at Mead Base, there is a spectacular view of Red Hill, an area conserved by LRCT. Through a row of trees and across cow pastures, the view of Red Hill at sunset is unmatched. Without the permanent conservation of the area, the view of Red Hill would not be the same for those of us today and in future generations. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to be a steward of these areas to ensure that others can enjoy and appreciate them like I do.

Since joining the program in May, I have had many opportunities to meet and work with volunteers. Their selflessness and commitment to supporting conservation initiatives amaze me. I have learned so much from the volunteers I have connected with so far, from history lessons about the conserved lands surrounding Castle in the Clouds in Moultonborough, to pro tips on how to swing an axe, to their past experiences and interests that have led them to their passion for conservation and community service. Beyond learning from others, I have also been having a wide variety of new experiences, like regular black bear sightings along the road to Mead Base and living just steps away from a waterfall – and close enough to a farm to hear cows mooing at all times of the day (and night). I look forward to continuing to learn from and be inspired by others throughout the program, as well as welcome new experiences like these!