Friday, August 2, 2013

So Long and Thanks for All the Ticks

By Juliane Menezes and Sylvia Kinosian

Bianca, we'll miss you!
The time has come for the LANDS "CR00" to say goodbye - LANDS program 2013 is now 100% complete!  The 9th week was all about finishing general tasks, editing and wrapping up all the reports, organizing gear, and making Bianca shine!  The STP reports were getting finished up with maps, photos and final formatting. On Wednesday evening, we threw a barbecue parteeeyyy at Red Rocks Park.  Swimming, kayaking, playing volleyball and frisbee, and eating burgers/ veggie burgers was what we needed to continue the rest of our last busy week. 

We spent Thursday preparing for and giving our final presentation. We created a powerpoint did a practice run through of the presentation early in the afternoon to get ready for the final evening. We were a little nervous to present to an audience, but our practice payed off and we rocked it! Our audience really seemed to enjoy the show - and so did we! Reflecting on our hard work over the summer was very rewarding. We all have a lot to be proud of! 

Friday was all about finalizing our experience, giving thanks and saying goodbyes for a few of us. Jacob is going back to the famous Central Michigan University; Liz back to NY; Julie to Madison, Wisconson and Maria is going back to Brazil. Have a nice trip Maria! We hope that LANDS internship had closed your year in U.S with a “golden key.” Now, LANDS, you deserve some vacation! Enjoy the rest of the summer before classes start again. Ride your bikes, go swimming, get some rest, and HAVE FUN! 

"Pease" Out!

Gomo Town Forest Johnson, VT

Kristian Moore
Michael Storace
This week Michael Storace and Kristian Moore hit the road early for Johnson Vermont. Meeting our small team project (STP) sponsor, Lois Frey and the Johnson Conservation Commission at the Municipal building in the village of Johnson. After getting a quick rundown of Gomo Town Forest's natural and cultural history we followed Eric Nuse, the previous county game warden and walking encyclopedia, up the treacherous Codding Hollow Road and into Gomo Town Forest.
Gomo Town Forest is a 141 acre parcel of land located in the northwestern corner of Johnson, VT. It is bordered by the north and south by Vermont State land and borders the town of Waterville to the west.  Bisecting Gomo Town Forest is Codding Hollow Road, a class four road no longer maintained by the town or passable by street vehicles. ATV traffic is the only traffic that uses this road, and unfortunately has begun to radiate off the road and into surrounding fields and forest. 
There is another trail that winds it's way through the southern section of the property, and a logging path that follows the eastern border north to the border of VT state land and Gomo Town Forest. 
Our main objective for this project was to map all trails and their condition, map the location of cultural artifacts, and connect the Gomo property to the Long Trail, all while finding the best way to increase the number of visitors to this unique piece of land and the beautiful ridge line trail to Laraway Mountain (above photo).
Old Doodlebug truck, the last vehicle to regularly make the trip up Codding Hollow Road and to the Gomo Farm.  

Kristian and Mike enjoying the view from Laraway Lookout. 
We followed old logging roads and bushwhacked our way to the Long Trail from Gomo Town Forest. At the Laraway lookout two of Kristian's friends from high school appeared. They were on day 21 of their South - North through hike of the LT. After a nice unexpected visit we continued our hike to Codding Hollow Road and completed the 5 mile loop trail we proposed to the Johnson Conservation Commission.  


LaPlatte River Marsh: Invasives Nightmare!

By Juliane Menezes and Sylvia Kinosian

Our favorite natural area

Julie and Sylvia went to Shelburne Bay, only a few minutes south of Burlington, to start working in the LaPlatte River Marsh Natural Area. Mollie Klepack, who works with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), showed us around the area and told us about a few projects that have previously been done in the area to remove the invasives. In a few weeks, a large scale invasvies removal effort will begin, implemented by Restart Forestry. This private consulting company has been hired by TNC and funded by a special grant to do some much needed removal of the invasive infestation. Our project was unique among the other STPs in that TNC asked to create our own monitoring protocol for invasive species monitoring. We decided to use a random plot sampling method to estimate the percent cover of the invasives present; the centers of each one of our 20 plots were marked with GPS waypoints as well as rebar stakes so finding them again will be very easy to find during future monitoring efforts.

Simplicity and ease of use was one of our top priories when creating our monitoring protocol because it will be used by TNC interns and volunteers to collect data after the removal effort; future data will be compared to the baseline data that we collected and used to measure the effectiveness of the chemical and mechanical procedures used on the invasives.
A most beautiful of maps. Oh ArcGIS, how we will miss you.
Over the 8 weeks working with LANDS, we have never seen a place dominated by invasive species like this section of the LaPlatte! We spent most of our time in the field bushwhacking a dense population of honeysuckles and dogwoods. We were basically swimming in a sea of honeysuckle! Hopefully the removal effort be a a success and someday soon the LaPlatte Rive Marsh will be a lovely, invasive free natural area for all to enjoy.

Honeysuckle ocean
In addition to our field work, we had the company of Joshua Brown: writer, photographer, and professor at UVM. He decided to include us, LANDS, in his article for the UVM website. Now we can say that we are Forestry superstars! 
"Hmm, indeed, this Lonicera sp. had got to go" - Sylvia and Julie, Stars of Forestry
Photo Credit: Joshua Brown

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wu Ledges

By: Rachel Markey

This week, Sam, Maria, and Rachel all headed down to Waitsfield to check out the elusive property known as Wu Ledges. We were ready to map out a network of trails, but did not realize what exactly we were dealing with until our sponsor, Mark, described them as a "spaghetti mess."

We felt like this. 

But afterall, things were not so bad. We spent 2 full days in the field, and mapped out almost 6 miles of winding mountain bike trails. We took note of their conditions and any special features they had to offer. Once we were on a roll with finding, tracking, and mapping the trails, we began to enjoy ourselves on the property.  

One of the many eastern newts we found!

Final trail map with all points of interest. Phew!

Pease, please!

This week, Jacob, Liz, and Martine headed out to Charlotte to explore the Pease Mountain natural area. Pease Mountain, the twin of Mt. Philo, has a small trail system that we set out to map. To our great enjoyment, we discovered several small trails that led to lovely views of the surrounding landscape. We offered many management recommendations to help deal with the excessive muddiness, such as rerouting trails and installation of boardwalks. From our conversations with local Pease enthusiasts, we understand the great value of this low-impact recreational area to the community, and are really grateful for the opportunity to help contribute to the longevity of this very cool place.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Week 8: July 22 to 26

By Juliane Menezes and Sylvia Kinosian

This week we started our last project as a whole group! The Conservation Commission of the Williston, Vermont hired us to make ecological assessments in three different locations that may be placed under conservation easements. The three areas had some interesting names: Bur Oak Knoll (Bur Oaaaaaks!), Glacial Spillway (Ice Age) and Johnson Falls.

Kristian chillin’ on the tree hunting stand.

One person of each group was responsible to find historical data about their respective area. Sam, Liz and Rachel searched in hundreds of folders and files in the Town Clerk Office for valuable information about historical land use, property landowners, and easements. The rest of the crew were responsible for collecting info about natural communities, wildlife, natural and human disturbances, topography and hydrology. We also looked for historical maps and aerial photographs in UVM Memorial Library. It was kind of interesting to notice the changes of the landscape in time. In other words, basically everything that we have been doing on previous projects in this summer. We are masters at doing ecological assessments by now!

Glacial crew crossing this old bridge (One at a time!)  

We did the entire project, which includes the assessment of the properties and report writing, in only 3 days. Good job everybody! 

It's time to play What's That Small Nondescript Herbaceous Plant?!

Done with the Williston project, we started our Small Team Projects (STPs)! The projects chosen by our crew were: Gomo Town Forest (Kristian and Mike), Pease Mountain (Liz, Martine and Jacob), LaPlatte River Marsh (Julie and Sylvia), and WU Ledges (Sam, Maria, and Rachel).  We had to do these projects on our own, without the help of Emily or Laura; contacting the sponsors, planning, gathering all the maps and writing the reports are entirely our responsibility.  The results of our independent projects are still a surprise! Good Luck LANDS!

Martine enjoying the shade of a Quercus macrocarpa

Friday, July 19, 2013

Week 7: Stuck in the suburbs

Map Partying (planning).
On Monday afternoon, we emerged from Bianca onto the steaming pavement of Essex Junction's Five Corners intersection. Our mission for the week was to inventory each urban street tree in the public right-of-way in Essex Junction Village, noting down species, size, and condition. The lovely Elise Schadler of VT Urban and Community Forestry guided us in our work, providing software training, treats, and insight in the context of this project. 
Like many of our other projects, this inventory is intended to inform management practices for the urban forest. Data from this inventory may help monitor a disease outbreak, or prevent hazards and altercations. In addition, the project has a strong community aspect in that it intends to raise awareness of the importance of a healthy urban forest and expand public support. Town planners may use this data to establish tree dollar values, providing an economic lens to promote tree conservation.

Often overlooked as a crucial component of walkable, aesthetically pleasing neighborhoods, trees provide a wealth of benefits to communities. Urban trees provide shelter from the sun, serve as passive cooling devices for buildings, improve air quality, buffer storm runoff, regulate temperatures, provide wildlife habitat, mitigate noise pollution, and generally improve the appearance of a place. Elise told us that trees can even function in crime reduction. Their presence provides a resource for environmental education initiatives, community engagement, and fostering a strong sense of place. They’re hugely important for maintaining healthy and functioning communities that are easy on the eye.

Some forestry stars.
We spent three days in the field wrangling with a slightly maddening software system called Juno to record data and GPS coordinates. Partitioned into 4 separate groups, we trekked through the village landscape wearing bright vests and seeing mirages (it was a sweaty week). Upon reaching a new street to inventory, we measured and calculated the right-of-way distance from the curb, which would tell us which trees fell in the public realm and which did not. For each tree we happened upon, we recorded an assemblage of data including DBH (diameter at breast height), species, GPS location, overall condition, and whether it had defects and/or needed consulting. We also noted any properties that could possibly use a tree in their yard. At the close of each workday, Elise uploaded our data onto the Vermont Urban Community Forestry Tool and we entered all our notes into an Excel document.

Don't be scared.
We found the urban forest to be, for the most part, in good health, with minimal instances of consultation necessary. However, some bad news is that there are many trees in Essex Junction Village that are susceptible to invasive pests, a situation which should be closely monitored. Promoting a more diverse age structure and species assemblage will encourage the long-term sustainability of this urban forest.

Stopping traffic.

"I love this software." -Kristian

Downtime at the Essex Town Hall. Thanks for the cold water.

End-of-the-week-treats. Thanks, VT Urban and Community Forestry superstars!

Despite the oppressive heat, we had a fun week. Thanks so much to Nick for the pool party!

-the cr00