The Squam Conservation Internship provides skills and experience for future conservation professionals while working as the driving force behind the SLA’s conservation mission. This unpaid volunteer internship provides hands-on conservation work experience and certifications over a broad range of activities. Interns serve as campsite hosts and caretakers at our backcountry campsites, work toward the eradication of variable milfoil, engage both youth and adults in environmental education, and perform other conservation duties such as shoreline restoration and trail maintenance and construction. Learn more about the internship program here. Squam Conservation Interns also regularly write about their experiences in the Squam Watershed.
The divers always get all the attention. This entry is going to be about the men and women that support them from above the surface. Yesterday I worked all day as part of the support crew. I was hoping that it would be a nice break. The weather was sunny and warm with a nice breeze. I soon learned that being on the support crew is not a break.
For the first two hours, Coral and I worked tirelessly on the boat to keep the massive amounts milfoil from flooding the DASH table. The divers pulled almost eighty gallons. Not only do all the plants need to be spread out and dried before being piled into bins, all the dirt that comes up the suction tubes clogs the mesh table, which leads to massive flooding and chaos. So we constantly brushed the table and I got my first blister of the internship, not from maintaining trails or splitting firewood but from scrubbing milfoil. Although Coral and I were within inches of each other, working the DASH table is ironically solitary work. The motor is loud and there is little to no communication required. While working, I was lulled into a focused and frantic, but also calm mindset as I worked out the most efficient way to keep the table clean. In our brief moments of calm, Coral and I joked that we never would have been able to keep the table under control individually. By the way, normally there is only one person working on the boat, so that should be interesting.
The other support job, and the most important is the kayaker. As you might expect, the kayaker is not on Millie, our motorboat devoted to pulling milfoil, but on a miniscule kayak. Armed with a small net and bag, the kayaker collects broken fragments of milfoil that would, if left to float, flow downstream and become a new plant, potentially creating a new infestation. The kayaker also keeps an eye on the divers to make sure that they are safe and comfortable. The last job of the kayaker is the frustrating and impossible task of untangling the four hoses in the water. Hopefully we will limit the tangling as the summer goes on, but right now the two air hoses and two suction hoses get amazingly tangled in the water. The job is made more difficult by basic physics. Since we are in the water, there is nothing to brace ourselves against, and whenever you pull or push a hose, the kayak moves more than the hose.
Diving is fun too.