Monday, June 21, 2010

Week Three

Week 3 started with a two-hour ride in Gazelle down to Bomoseen State Park, just South of Rutland. Upon arrival, we set up camp and made a new friend, "Cheeks" the chipmunk. Deanna enjoyed feeding him trail mix, which was later found by Kyle, with nuts and raisins stashed away in his sleeping bag and pillowcase. Soon after camp was set up, we began to survey the park, finding mostly honeysuckle and the usual suspects, along with a few less familiar invasive plants such as Black Swallow Wart and Amur Maple. A downpour of rain made the process a bit slower, but we finished the park before the end of the day, leaving time to survey some surrounding nature trails. The day went quite smoothly, and ended with a relaxing camp fire.

Reed, Ben & Deanna hard at work

On Tuesday the weather was beautiful and everyone was in high spirits. In the morning we all hopped into Gazelle and made our way to Emerald Lake State Park, which was a gem of a place. Here, we teamed off to survey campsites and nature trails, finding mostly honeysuckle and garlic mustard, and luckily no invasive insects. We had a nice lunch break on the beach, where we got to bask in the sun. Those of us who were lucky enough to have our bathing suits got to cool off in the lake, making our way to an island in the middle where we found more honeysuckle. When it was time to take off for the day, we stopped in Rutland for dinner veggies that had been unfortunately left behind in Burlington. We ended our day with a feast of delicious veggies, pasta and kielbasa.

Our fearless leaders Sam & Zach (and Dan skipping rocks)

On Wednesday we were expecting the worst after a forecast of heavy rain all day long. Fortunately, we still had hopes for the best, and the timing was perfect! We had a long day of surveying three different campgrounds, and were lucky enough to have it rain only when we were driving in Gazelle from location to location. We began the day at Lake Saint Catherine, surveying 60 sites in about 2 hours. After quickly completing the survey, and finding the usual invasive plant species such as honeysuckle and garlic mustard, we hopped in Gazelle and headed towards Branch Pond, eating our lunches of PB & J and gold fish on the way. Branch Pond was a beautiful, remote, and quite undeveloped site. The landscape was very different than previous sites, with tree species such as Fir and Spruce, and rare plant species such as the flowering pitcher plant and the lady slipper. Although we didn't finish here until about 5pm, the crew decided to make the day even longer and survey one last area called Old Job in the Tabor Mountain area of the U.S. Forest. This was mostly a road survey, with a few campsites along the way. We surveyed through dusk, finishing up just as it was getting dark. After the rainy two hour ride back to our campsite at Bomoseen, we cooked burritos at 10pm, having a short fire before we were all too tired to stay awake any longer. It was a long, fun, and very successful day of surveying.

A Flowering Pitcher Plant: Branch Pond, VT

Because of our long day on Wednesday, we were able to cut the day in half on Thursday, surveying Half Moon State Park. Working until 1pm, we finished all the campsites, and even got to explore a huge field in search for more invasives. Here we found mostly honeysuckle and buckthorn, along with a car door, microwave and golf club. We then proceeded to drive back to our home base in Burlington, where we unpacked and headed home for the night.

Ben & Zach getting familiar with the park

Friday was a day of logistics in the office, finishing up some necessary last minute duties. This third week was good for everyone, as the weather was enjoyable and the days flew by. The crew worked smoothly as a team and continued to learn a lot while enjoying the diverse and beautiful landscape of Vermont.

Sam & his beloved mushrooms

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