Monday, June 7, 2010

Welcome to LANDS 2010! This will be our weekly blog chronicling our adventures over the nine weeks of the program.

Our program kicked off on Tuesday. The day was filled with orientation not only to the group and mission of LANDS but also the beginnings of field time. After spending the morning in the GreenHouse Residential Learning Community getting to know one another, we headed out to Lone Rock Point to investigate some landscape history as well as begin to identify shrubs and trees using different resources. Despite the rain and relentless mosquitoes our intrepid crew persevered and bonded.

(Dan and Jessie working on Tree ID)

Wednesday was spent in Centennial Woods with some fellow students from the Forest Ecosystem Health Crew, orienting ourselves (no pun intended) with our GPS devices and compass skills. I'm happy to report that no one was lost. After our orienteering course, we got the run down on the procedures for our invasive plant and insect surveys and practiced a few techniques for spotting pests and intruders.

(Ben, Toral, Kyle and Jon figuring it out...kind of)

On Thursday we really got down to business in a conserved floodplain managed by The Nature Conservancy in Richmond. Emily Seifert, Invasives Coordinator with the The Nature Conservancy, instructed us on the proper way to treat Japanese Knotweed: chop it all down! We spent the morning annihilating vast swaths of the invasive plant clearing large patches in the forest. Looking back at our handiwork it was easy to see the damage that this plant could do. There was almost nothing growing under the thickets of Knotweed; after it is eradicated (with more cutting back and a light herbicide application) hopefully the native ostrich ferns will return to this beautiful floodplain ecosystem. (Reed with the Knotweed) (A nest we found in the thicket)

After lunch, we walked along a short piece of the Long Trail to talk about soil patterns and composition and how they affect the localized landscape ecology. We practiced taking soil samples and testing for pH then extrapolating what we could about the preferences of different types of ecological communities.

Friday morning we took turns briefing the rest of the team on several invasive plants to keep our eyes peeled for throughout the season. After a few presentations we jumped in our trusty automobile, Gazelle (pronounced “Gizelle”) and zipped over to the State Forest Department's offices on Spear St. to clean up some overgrown study plots. It was an intense afternoon of clipping, sawing and hauling grapevines, brush and small trees that were not needed and taking some data on the study being performed there. Once again the LANDS crew rose to the challenge of and otherwise daunting task. We finished the day back at our GreenHouse HQ for a few more invasive species presentations and then a bit of planning for next week's work and camping in the Green Mountain National Forest!

(Deanna showing some grape vines who's Boss)

(Ben with a bundle o' brush)

Despite the huge amount of new information to absorb and long days in variable work conditions, we can't help but be psyched for the weeks to come. Personally, I now can't stop spotting invasive plants like Japanese Knotweed and Phragmites everywhere and looking for the new trees I've learned to identify.

Thanks for reading and be sure to stay tuned for more thrilling accounts of the exciting summer ahead of us!

- The LANDS Crew

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