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.
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.
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
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
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.