Daily Archives: August 31, 2014

Remembering the Civilian Conservation Corps on Labor Day


As we enjoy the many natural wonders provided by our county, state & national parks across the country during this long Labor Day weekend, it may not be apparent that the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) contributed immensely to our experiences today. During the Great Depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed legislation creating the CCC. It was a tremendously popular program that put 3 million unemployed young men to work on public lands all over the nation. It included constructing 28,000 miles of trails, planting 3 billion trees, fighting soil erosion and building the infrastructure of the National Park service as well as 63,000 buildings. Many of their achievements are still visible and still used today because they were so well done. The program existed for nine years after its creation in 1933 and was discontinued after the economy improved. In Kansas, there were CCC projects conducted in 32 counties.

The CCC built this low-water bridge across Rock Creek in the late 30s. Boyle Park, Pulaski County, Little Rock, Arkansas

The CCC built this low-water bridge across Rock Creek in the late 30s. Boyle Park, Pulaski County, Little Rock, Arkansas. Photo by Eric Hunt.

Watchin’ Hawks Makes For A Perfect Fall Day— And Here’s Where To See Them

Northern Goshawk

Northern Goshawk

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

Every fall, millions of birds fly south to spend the winter in sunny places with mild climates and plentiful food.

Most smaller birds migrate under the cover of darkness, stopping to fuel up on insects or seeds by day and using the stars to guide them at night.

Hawks, by contrast, are diurnal migrants; they depend on currents of rising warm air to lift them to high altitudes where they glide on their broad wings without flapping, thereby conserving energy.

During these flights, hawks use their keen eyesight to recognize landmarks, follow landforms that provide rising thermals, and steer a course to their ancestral wintering grounds. In some places these migrating hawks gather in huge numbers, and people gather to watch them with binoculars and data sheets in the phenomenon known as the hawkwatch.

Counting hawks during migration is more than a competitive pursuit for list-oriented birders. The data collected at hawkwatches helps experts monitor the health of various ecosystems. Because hawks are top predators—that is, they occupy the top of the food chain—they’re very sensitive to changes that affect prey species. Comparing hawk numbers from year to year reveals trends that offer insight into the well-being of the environment in both the breeding and wintering areas.

But more than simply counting hawks, there’s the spectacle of it all. Standing atop a ridge on a crisp autumn day while hundreds of hawks circle and stream past is an unforgettable experience, which helps explain why people return to these sites day after day and hawkwatch programs across the country attract volunteers by the dozens.

Visit any hawkwatch site, and you’ll find people who came one day out of curiosity and soon became regulars.

Click on the link for a guide to some of the top hawkwatch sites in North America:http://enature.com/outdoors/hawkwatch/

Here’s link to Hawkwatch International’s homepage if you’d like to learn more or get involved:http://www.hawkwatch.org/