Thursday, October 16, 2014

Week 7

The week started off in the lair with the much anticipated assignment of our small team projects. Some of the projects include invasive species mapping, assessing recreational access on waterways, riparian buffer assessment, and more! We then met in our small team project groups and discussed goals of the project as well as any questions we had for our community partners. These projects will take place in late November.

We were then graced with Rick Paradis’ presence, the director of UVM’s Natural Areas, to discuss the newly acquired 225 acre Carse Property in Heinsburg, VT. We discussed trail features and considerations when planning a trail network. Next, we watched some awesome youtube vids about proper trail design and how to mitigate impact from humans, weather and other factors to ensure long-term sustainability of a trail through proper construction of a trail.

We took a much needed break outside to tie each other’s shoe laces with one hand each to learn cooperation and teamwork.

Since it was so beautiful outside, we remained in the grass to talk about trail planning and our goals and objectives for our upcoming project at the Carse Property.

James looking adorable while we plan for the Carse Project.
We subsequently went inside, and continued to discuss our goals and objectives for a few hours to get them juuuuuuust right.

Tuesday we hopped in the vans and headed to the Carse Property to scope it out. We divided into three groups: group 1 assessed the parking lot options, group 2 took note of positive and negative notable spots in the property on the GPS, and group 3 assessed the current proposed trail. It was a perfectly beautiful day. We ended the day by talking about the natural communities that we found throughout the forest. 

Emily, our fearless leader.

Nick and Michelle looking as beautiful as the scenery.
Who doesn't love nature pics?

We even met some friends! This dude had a mouse in his stomach!

Our work site, not too shabby.

Spreading seeds, and joy.
A fuzzy worm.

Mesic-Maple-Ash-Hickory-Oak Forest. Beautiful!

Summing up our findings in a circle. We are really good at making circles.

Jules checking out soil suitability for trail building.

Wednesday, we met in the morning and discussed our findings from the previous day in the field. From that, we came up with a plan for further research at the Carse Property. Group 1 stayed back in the lair to research costs for creating parking lots and talk with landowners. Group 2 and 3 continued their research in the field. We then met up as a group in the sugarbush and planned out our work for Thursday so we could come in and get to work as efficiently as possible.

Thursday, Jules enlightened us to Kid President, an adorable and inspiration figure of the Internet. We then did some drawing therapy before beginning our work day. The rest of the day was spent report writing, researching history on the Carse Property, and developing maps on GIS. Lastly we got to read our Warm and Fuzzies. This is when everyone writes something nice about each LANDS member and puts it in an envelope in order to foster a warm and fuzzy feeling inside.

Later skaters,
Shannon and Courtney

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Week Six: More Report Writing

Week 6: Our Shortest Week of the Year!! due to a day off on Thursday to make up for the Town Forest Summit last Saturday. We spent 3 intensive days report writing for the Stratton Pond Management Plan. 

Look at us work!

Day 1: Grant started the week with some classic line drills (lunges, high knees) to get our hearts pumpin' on the cold morning before we started a long week in front of our computers. We spent all morning brainstorming an outline for this report, and began the process of creating a task list for the next few days. In the past we would write reports in small groups, but this was our first report written all together. The rest of  the day was spent with Ralph Tursini, director of the Jericho Research Forest helping pull invasive species in the Japanese Larch stand. 

       Ralph in his natural habitat             Just some goombers goombering around with da tools                            

We picked buckthorn, honeysuckle, and Japanese barberry. A group of us also gathered acorns to aid in the reintroduction of red oak to the Larch stand after harvest. 

Michelle mimicking our grey, furry friends                                     Nick pulling some barberry

Day 2: First thing first, Michelle led us in a tea meditation. We then began the day by laying out our goals and objectives section as a group for the management plan. It was important to have a clear view of what it was we were trying to accomplish during the project before we began to write the report. Then we broke off into our respective groups to get sections done! We came back together around lunch time for a progress report. After lunch we met with Jeff Hughes, author of "Environmental Problem Solving: A How To Guide" one of our textbooks this semester. He spoke to us about how to approach problem solving by getting to what he called "the real problem". This meant spending more time dissecting the problem to see all of the different components and then thinking of ways to solve the multidimensional issue. We will all get experience with this when we start our Small Team Projects (STPs) later in the semester!
Jeff Hughes

We then took some time to not be inside... so we went to stretch our muscles and played a great game of zipper tag!
Run Flore run!

Day 3: Our last day began with a reflection of what we were thankful for and what we like about October led by Bonnie. Then we brainstormed and compiled our recommendations and considerations for Stratton Pond. We then spent most of the day finishing our report. 

Finishing in style

Stay Classy, Internet
Grant and Zoe 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Adventures at Stratton Pond

We started off our week bright and early Monday morning at the Forestry Sciences Building in South Burlington. After loading up we departed for the Rutland Forest Service Station to discuss our project plans for the week with Jen Wright, our project sponsor. Next, we continued our journey to Stratton Pond, making a pit stop at Mt. Tabor Forest Service Work Station to divvy up food and gear amongst the groups packs.

With our packs ready to go we headed out to Stratton Ski Mountain where we took the super secret Forest Service entrance to the Stratton Pond Shelter.


After the 3-mile hike in we set up camp and cooked dinner: pesto pasta with sunflower seeds and a whole lot of love

Day 2
We oriented ourselves with Stratton Pond and split into three groups to start on the project for the Forest Service. One group assessed the impact of the developed area near the shelter and its effect on erosion near the pond. The second group examined the campsites at the North Shore Tenting Area, while the third group evaluated best management practices for dispersed use recreation.

After a hard day of work we hiked back out of the woods into civilization for an amazing dinner hosted by the parents of one of our crew members, Courtney Crowley: a delicious feast of tomato bisque, vegetarian chili, salad, pumpkin muffins, lemon pasta salad, and grilled chicken. For dessert we had blondies and molasses cookies.

We departed with full and happy stomachs and headed back to camp in the dark of the night through eerie fog and bouncing headlights.

Day 3
At four AM some of us awoke to the pitter patter of rain on our tents. Getting up that morning was a bit slower than our usual chipper selves. Jen Wright and Lee Allen, who was the first caretaker of Stratton Pond nearly 40 years ago, met up with us after breakfast. We split back up into our groups and dug soil pits with Lee at current and potential campsites around the pond.

Day 4
Exhausted and damp from the day of rain we packed up camp and made one last breakfast, trying to use as much food as possible to lighten our return. After getting all our gear together we finished one last project assessing the impact of our camping on the area near the shelter. With all of our work done we hiked back out to the vans for our return home.

Until next time, Rachel and Michelle

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Week 5: Writing Inventory Reports and Management Plans

This week was our first week spent almost entirely inside. On Monday we participated in a day long retreat for NR207 with Kaylynn Sullivan TwoTrees and Zach Ispa-Landa. We met in the Green House, circling up and initially beginning with a few exercises to perfect our listening and understanding skills.  We continued on to collectively determine the various ways in which we are all different and similar.  The main intent of the retreat was to determine how differences lead to preferences to privilege to power, and then the cycle continues.  We discussed how differences in race, gender, sexual orientation, and class can lead to privilege and power, or a lack of power.  

Tuesday through Thursday we were hard at work compiling our data and writing inventory reports and management plans for our respective towns. When we walked in our meeting room on Tuesday to crack down on work we were pleasantly surprised to walk into a large room with floor to ceiling stained glass windows and high ceilings. This historical room was inspiring to work in as we were making our own history. The pictures below display the LANDS crew hard at work. 

Organizing data in the Dewey Lounge in Old Mill

Report writing in Aiken

On Wednesday afternoon Grant and Chris taught the group about how to correctly prepare for backpacking. They taught us how to pack lightly and efficiently, the importance of layers, and how to distribute weight in a pack to ensure balance and safety. They taught us this lesson to prepare for our 3 night backpacking trip at Stratton Pond next week. Chris and Grant brought some visual aids to help us learn. Unfortunately Dolphina the blow up dolphin did not make the cut for appropriate items to pack. Maybe next trip Dolphina. 

Grant and Chris the backpacking gurus with Dolphina

Also on Wednesday to give us a break from the indoors and our computers, we were surprised with a trip to Ethan Allen Park to meet with Wes Testo. Wes is a graduate student doing his research work on fern evolution. 
Wes teaching the group
It was very kind of Wes to take time out of his day to meet with us and share some of his fern identification wisdom with us. We were all relieved to find out that fern identification is easier than tree identification, something we had done for a three full days the week before. 

Wes teaching us what characteristics to look for to ID ferns

Some innovative techniques were used to best teach us about some of the smallest ferns that grow in the driest places 

Looking through the pictures from last week, this gem was discovered. Maintaining the notion of LNT (Leave No Trace) we used all of our resources, including the not-so-perfect pictures. After a long week of compiling data and writing inventory reports and management plans, LANDS has a bit of comic relief with a picture of the Middlebury crew.

We sure made some frond memories this week!

Brought to you with love from Olivia and James 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Week 4: Hugging trees with iTree and a dinner at a yurt!

Greetings from LANDS World! This week was centered around tree inventory surveys in several Vermont communities. On Monday, Elise Schadler from the Vermont Urban and Community Forestry Program joined us to complete our iTree training. We went on a tree identification scavenger hunt around campus, and the winners received decomposition notebooks and gourmet chocolate.
We spent Monday working on our tree identification skills with Elise. 

Part of the Vergennes crew examines the city zoning map and discusses the tree inventory game plan. 

Tuesday marked the first day of our camping trip. We met at the Aiken Research Lab on Spear Street bright and early, split into our crews, and departed for our communities.  The LANDS crew was divided into three teams for the communities of Bristol, Middlebury, and Vergennes. We met with our project sponsors, who welcomed and oriented us before setting off on our work. After spending the day inventorying trees, we set up camp at Eagle Park on the New Haven River in Bristol. 

Our home base for camping was Eagle Park in Bristol. 
After enjoying a scrumptious riverside meal of rice and bean burritos, we bundled up with our layers and gathered around the fire. Peanut butter cookies from Olivia and cake from Grant were treats tonight in celebration of Nick's 21st birthday. Shortly thereafter, we retreated to our tents to be lulled asleep by the sounds of the river.

What a lovely view! 

Jules and Zoe enjoy dinner and conversation along the scenic New Haven River. 

After camp was set up, the group gathered around the fire.

Happy 21st Birthday, Nick! 

Several of us explored the New Haven River and came across the Toaster, a beautiful waterfall.

Wednesday morning came quickly! In the crisp morning air of early fall we broke down camp and ate a quick breakfast of oats. Lunch preparations simultaneously happened, composed of a ‘build your own wrap’ buffet line, LANDS style. This was the fullest day of inventory, but also the most beautiful with sunny skies, a light breeze, and the feeling of autumn upon us. We started around 8:30 A.M. and surveyed our respective towns until 4:30 P.M. 

Team Middlebury enjoyed this gorgeous view during their tree inventories. 
The Vergennes team discovered the true meaning of "tree hugging": taking DBH (diameter at breast height)!

After reconvening in Bristol, Elise’s coworker, Caitlin, and her husband, Matt, treated us to a wonderful chili dinner (complete with cornbread, salad, and brownies) at their sugarbush, Little Hogback Farm. We were treated to a tour of both their yurt and their state-of-the-art sugar shack, where Matt shared his sugaring process and his aspirations to make 300 gallons of syrup this season. After returning to Eagle Park and setting up our tents in the pitch black (#challengeaccepted) the crew quickly called it a night, exhausted from the long day and in preparation for yet another early morning.

Matt of Little Hogback Farm shows us his elaborate sugar shack.

Caitlin gave us a tour of their humble abode: a beautiful, cozy yurt.
We enjoyed a chili dinner graciously prepared by Caitlin and Matt.

Thursday morning, we broke camp for the final time, following the same routine as before: breakfast, packing, lunch preparations, and loading the vans. Each team spent their third day working hard to inventory trees and accomplish as much as possible. After a morning and afternoon of work, we packed up at our home bases and returned to Burlington to complete community roles.

This week, we learned about camp life, tree identification, and urban forestry. We spent the week working hard in the field in our teams, and continued to improve this team’s chemistry. We also familiarized ourselves with these beautiful Vermont communities, and enjoyed spending time amongst them. Next week, we’re looking forward to our NR 207 retreat with Zac and Kaylynn, and to compiling our tree inventory data into management plans. Cheers!

Brought to you with love by Brian and Bonnie! Over and out.