Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Week 8:
This, our second to last full week of LANDS was spent in the Burlington area beginning in earnest the final stages of our program: reports, final presentations and small team projects.

(Reed and Liz looking up communities)

(We used a pH test to help identify natural communities.)


We spent the first half of Monday at Raven Ridge, a conserved area in Huntington with Liz Thompson a UVM professor and co-author of Wetland, Woodland, Wildland a Guide to the Natural Communities of Vermont. Prof. Thompson helped us get comfortable classifying different types of forests and natural communities. After a delicious lunch with a beautiful view from the ridge, the interns split into groups to identify a natural community on our own.To end the day we explored a nearby sandplain forest to look for differences in natural communities in this area of glacial deposition. We looked for common species, examined tipped over trees and the exposed bedrock beneath, and dug a soil pit learning appropriate methods like lying down plastic to ensure all of the removed soil/matter is replaced.

(Zac showing us proper soil pit technique)


Tuesday morning Steve Libby joined us in the GreenHouse to give us a mini lecture on conservation easements and all the considerations and deliberations that go into creating these legal agreements. Tuesday also marked the beginning of our Small Team Projects (STPs). Groups of two and three interns have taken on small projects for various organizations (town forests, land trusts, etc.) to complete on our own. While a couple of interns went out into the field to meet with their client sponsors the rest of the crew stayed back at the GreenHouse to begin the final push to create reports for the summer’s surveys and to start thinking about our final presentation in two weeks. (Here Steve talks about property rights with some help from Zac and his bike)

(Rick relates the history of the Shelburne Pond property)


We had another guest speaker today. Rick Paradis, a UVM professor and manager of the University’s natural areas took the crew out to one such area Shelburne Pond to continue the discussion around conservation and landscape protection. In particular, we discussed the many uses of the area and what the impacts of those activities are. Rick gave us a great overview of the history of that area from the glaciers that carved out much of Vermont to the family farms that used to surround the pond to the current issues concerning development and watershed protection. After leaving Rick, the crew continued to develop our various reports for the Green Mountain National Forest, State Department of Parks and Recreation and collect data for our STPs.

(Hard at work in the office)


Thursday was much like the rest of the week except that we did not have a guest joining us. Some of us stayed in the office, but most broke up the day with some office time in the morning and then field time for the STPs. It is difficult to report on the individual projects since sometimes it’s tough to keep on top of your own! One team is creating a trail highlighting interesting natural features in the Montgomery Town Forest; one team is doing much the same in the Hinesburg Town Forest. The last two are performing natural community and plant inventories in conserved properties on Lake Champlain and in Richmond along the Huntington and Winooski rivers. It is refreshing to work with new partners and in slightly more professional capacity.


More of the same: Small team projects are dominating our work today. This is our only full day out in the field so we all need to make the most of it. At the end of the day all crews looked excited but thoroughly exhausted and ready for a beautiful weekend before the real crunch time is upon us. Next week we need to finalize three full length reports, our individual STPs, and plan for the final presentation and the rest of LANDS. It is absolutely incredible that we’re nearly at the end of our program. The weeks flew by, just as promised. Thanks for reading and we hope to see you at our presentation August 30th from 6-8pm.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

LANDS - Week 7

LANDS – Week 7

This week LANDS teamed up with trusty FEHC (Forest Ecosystem Health Crew, pronounced “feck”) to survey for invasive plants in the South of Route 9 Integrated Research Project area located (you guessed it) south of Rt. 9, near Bennington, Vermont.

Monday, July 12

Everyone had a case of the Mondays as we congregated early to drive down to the Forest Service’s Manchester Ranger Station for some survey protocol streamlining. We met with Kate Walker and Melissa Reichert, who laid down guidelines for the week’s work. After some lunch in the sun and a tour of the facilities, we hit the road again to start our survey.

Thanks to our brand new safety vests, as modeled by Ben, we successfully averted disaster.

Zac showed us how to light a fire using his mind, and a couple of sticks.

Tuesday, July 13

LANDS and FEHC worked a long day surveying the majority of the area. A few of us got to know the forest intimately as we bush-wacked through the George D. Aiken wilderness area. We were happy to find few invasive plants, and none in the wilderness area.

Kyle, Will, and Mark walking through the forest.

Wednesday, July 14 (Bastille Day)

A welcome alternative to surveying in the rain, Kate Walker met us in our campground shelter to discuss our progress, methods, and the remaining work to be done. We then came to the conclusion that we could finish all of our surveying that day, and return to Burlington late that night. On our journey home, we met with Melissa Reichert at the Rutland Forest Service Office for pizza and a short debriefing.

Deanna, singing in the rain.

Our rendezvous with Melissa Reichert at the GMNF Rutland Office.

Thursday, July 15

Today is a short, pleasant office day in which we are regrouping, cleaning, inventorying gear, and beginning our NNIS report for the Forest Service. After some long work days, we’re looking forward to a three day weekend.

Kyle hard at work!

Friday, July 9, 2010

LANDS- Week 6

DAY 1:
After enjoying a four-day holiday weekend the LANDS crew returned to surveying non-native invasive plants and insects in Vermont State Parks. The crew had a busy day Tuesday at Lake Carmi State Park in Enosburg which is the largest state park in Vermont. Dividing the two areas of the park is the Lake Carmi Bog which is the third largest peat bog in Vermont. The crew surveyed over 170 campsites and several roads all in one day in over 90 degree weather and finished the day with a stop to an ice cream stand. For such a large park, surprisingly few invasive species were found.

Campsite at Lake Carmi State Park

DAY 2:
The heat wave continued throughout the rest of the week as the crew surveyed Burton Island State Park in St. Albans on Wednesday. This park was located on an island in Lake Champlain. The crew boarded a ferry for a 10 minute ride to the island. The lack of cars and presence of a marina made this state park unique from the rest. Even though the park is remote and surrounded by water there were still several invasive species to be found including honeysuckle, buckthorn, oriental bittersweet, Japanese and Common barberry, and black locust. The occasional dip in the lake was a much needed relief from the heat during the day of surveying.
Relaxing on the ferry on the way to Burton Island State Park
Beautiful, quiet view from a trail on Burton Island State Park.

DAY 3:
On Thursday the crew surveyed Underhill State Park on the west slope of Mt. Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak. This small campground features several trails to the peak of Mt. Mansfield and was almost pristine with only Oriental Bittersweet and Buckthorn being found. In the afternoon, the crew stopped at Smuggler’s Notch Cave on the way to Smuggler’s Notch State Park for lunch. After exploring some of the caves and enjoying the natural air conditioning coming out of the crevices, the crew climbed up the caves to a ledge with a great view of the notch to enjoy lunch. After lunch we headed to Smuggler’s Notch State Park where we surveyed just for invasive plants and found only one small patch of honeysuckle. At the end of the day we got together and found out what we would be doing for our small team projects which will take place in about a week. We will work in groups of two or three with various land trusts and other organizations on projects such as natural community inventory, management plans, and outreach materials.
Reed and Jessie explore a cave at Smuggler's Notch while Ben enjoys a snack
Jon climbs his way up to the lunch spot at Smuggler's Notch
The crew enjoys lunch on a ledge at Smuggler's Notch
Beautiful view at Smuggler's Notch

DAY 4:
Friday was an office day in which we finished up our first full draft of the soil disturbance monitoring report for the Green Mountain National Forest. We also made first contact with our organizations for our small team projects as well as started putting together site descriptions for all of the state parks and campgrounds that we visited. After weeks of collecting data in the field, we are excited to see the fruits of our labor in the form of tangible reports.

LANDS Week 5

Hello readers! In LANDS’ 4th week in the field, and 2nd week calling the Mt. Tabor Workhouse in Danby, VT our home, we continued surveying soils in recently harvested sales. Our work took us to the South Road, Cone Brook West, Snow Valley, and Middlebury sales.

On the way south from Burlington our LANDS crew stopped at the Dutton Brook Sale in Middlebury, VT. In the small town of Goshen, VT Jon and Toral spotted a black bear and her three cubs crossing a skid road in the early afternoon; only the first bear sighting of the week! The Dutton Brook sale was one of the more disturbed areas we have visited thus far. Plentiful wetlands made surveying difficult as well.

Above: Deanna checks for compaction

Tuesday took the LANDS crew to the Cone Brook West sale. Reed and Lydia stayed back at the Workhouse to begin the piecing together the soils report for the Green Mountain National Forest. The landing at the Cone Brook West sale was huge and had very disturbed soils. Mapping and assessment of the skid roads was initiated, and survey work was continued on Wednesday.

Above: Zac joined the LANDS crew for the second week of soil surveys. Lucy shows him the ropes.

On Wednesday the crew took on the South Road and Snow Valley sales. Jessie and Deanna were surveying at Snow Valley when they encountered two mature black bears and a white tailed deer. Luckily the bears headed for the hills and the girls changed their transect path to avoid disturbing the bears’. In the end it was a very successful day for the crew, and marked our last soil surveys in the field. One lucky group finished the day hiking in to a beautiful undisturbed area on the Appalachian Trail.

Above: Zac and Sam demonstrate some of Sam's "flying yoga," used to refresh minds during long days in the field.

In order to get a jump on the report for the GMNF, the entire crew remained indoors at the Workhouse to start rough drafts of each section. Nancy, Mary Beth, and Melissa provided a delicious lunch for LANDS, followed by an enlightening presentation on the bigger picture of our work in the GMNF. It was rewarding to hear how our work the past two weeks will be utilized in the coming years. Now that the report is started, we will be taking a break from soil work to finish up our non-native invasive species surveys around the state. Thank you to all our dedicated readers!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Week 4:

Week 4 brought with it a change of pace as well as a change of scenery. Instead of camping out and surveying state parks for non-native invasive species, we began the first of two weeks staying at the U.S. Forest Service’s Mt. Tabor workhouse conducting soil disturbance monitoring.

Day 1:

We piled our gear and our selves into Gazelle for the trek to Mt. Tabor. This time we had the luxury of leaving the tents and camp stoves behind and instead taking shovels and hard hats.

Once at Mt. Tabor, we settled into a day of soil disturbance monitoring tutorials with Nancy Burt and Mary Beth Dewey soil scientist and biological technician, respectively, for GMNF (Green Mountain National Forest). Our focus was on disturbances in timber harvest areas, past or future. We learned which factors, such as compaction, erosion and pooling of water could slow forest regeneration, a result neither ecologically nor economically desirable.

After half a day of class time we went into the woods behind the work house to learn to measure slope (word of the day: clinometer), dig soil pits and get a feel for what to expect from undisturbed forest soils.

Nancy and Mary Beth at the Mt. Tabor workhouse

After the workday, Lydia introduced us to a lovely natural water slide near the workhouse. She jumped right in while the rest of us worked up the guts to try it out. We all took the plunge eventually, though, and it wasn’t nearly as scary as it looked.

Day 2:

After visiting Snow Valley Sale with Nancy Burt and getting acquainted with soil disturbance monitoring protocol, we split up for an afternoon of bushwhacking and orienteering in the Dorset/Peru area of GMNF. We tested the protocol on essentially undisturbed sites considered for future harvest.

Walking to Snow Valley Sale

Jon tells us about a soil pit at Snow Valley Sale while Reed uses the data recorder.

Found while visiting undisturbed site in Dorset/Peru area.

Q: Can you spot the invasives? A: 1) honeysuckle, 2) a car, 3) Kyle

Day 3:

We split up to do the survey for real, some of us going to Apple Orchard Sale, others to Burnt Meadow Sale, saw what kind of disturbance can occur with harvest. At Burnt Meadow, we saw some areas where drainage was limited and water was pooling, to the detriment of tree seedlings that should wish to grow there. Though somewhat disturbed by harvest, the area had signs of abundant wildlife, with birdsong throughout, and plenty of moose tracks.

Haul road to Burnt Meadow

Burnt Meadow landing

Kyle and Ben acquire satellites on their GPS unit

It was a hot one, so after the survey was over, Lydia introduced us to another swimming hole. This time is was an old marble quarry with high cliff faces. We all jumped from the medium height cliff (15-20 ft at bet guess), but Deanna and Dan tackled the high jump and came back grinning.

Oldest marble quarry in the United States, Dorset, VT

Day 4:

We revisited some sites from the day before to finish the survey and measure skid roads. We had a short day in the field before heading back to Burlington to wrap up the week, and even missed the rain.

Toral, Nancy Burt, Dan, and Reed split up skid roads at Burnt Meadow Sale.

Dan says it’s this way.

Three red lines mark the boundary of the sale unit.

We found this slick at the landing and wondered if some diesel had been spilled. Someone shared a fact from Sam: bacteria can form a skim on puddles, just like petroleum. If the surface breaks into plates like ice instead of swirling when you disturb it, bacteria are the cause.