Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Week 9 - Summer 2011

This is our final week of the LANDS program. We have been wrapping up our STP's, finalizing our group projects, and preparing for our final presentation. The presentation is Thursday night at 6pm in Stafford Hall - room 101. We hope to see you there!

Here are some pictures from our field work in Kirchner Woods.

Planning our wildlife observation plots

Isabel and a porcupine's home

Nick and Ita

A Blue Spotted Salamander

Friday, July 29, 2011


What a week it has been at LANDS! We are nearing the end of our nine-week program now and all of the loose ends are starting to come together, a long with a few new beginnings.

Monday, July 25th

This was our first week back form Mount Tabor and everyone is happy to be back in Burlington. We started off the week in the office and began compiling all of our data for the two Green Mountain National Forest (GMNF) projects we did field work for over the past three weeks. First we began working on the Wetlands Delineation Project, for which Mollie Klepeck is the project leader. With her guidance we began working on the final report. This process began by uploading all of our GPS points onto the computer, creating shapefiles from them, and then using the data is Arc GIS to create comprehensive maps of the wetlands we found in GMNF. Our maps will indicate the type of wetland, its size, and location. We focused on relating the crucial data to the GMNF and creating outstanding maps for them to use in their management plans of the wilderness areas we surveyed.

Tuesday, July 26th

On Tuesday we began working on the report for our other GMNF project, the Informal Campsite Assessment project. This report followed a similar format as the Wetland Delineation project and required a lot of mapmaking, so we spent some more time using GIS. Abby Okoniewski and Raymond Waweru were the project leaders and helped us all stay on task. We also began our service projects for the GreenHouse. We had the pleasure of painting an Adirondack chair to be used as GreenHouse furniture, and were asked to varnish a large wooden table built by GreenHouse residents. It was a nice break for us to explore our creativity in the midst of report mania.

Wednesday, July 27th

Wednesday was a great day as we finished our last day of surveying for the Informal Campsite Assessment project. We went back out into the wilderness areas, split up into three groups, and surveyed one last batch of campsites. The weather was cool and sunny and we had an all around good day. We are all going to miss the Green Mountain National Forest.

Thursday, July 28th

Thursday we came back to the office to wrap up both of the GMNF reports and begin putting finishing touches on all of the summer’s projects. The Rockville Market Farm report met its last stages of editing and formatting, the Colloredo-Mansfeld Project neared completion, and the final maps for the Burlington Parks and Recreation project began to materialize. It’s hitting everyone that our time with LANDS is limited; it’s hard to believe that LANDS is almost over. We are all going to miss each other and this experience.

But in the face of an ending, we all began something new. It is time for our small team projects! Some groups began their STP’s on Thursday, meeting with community partners or beginning fieldwork. Tanya and Story are doing a survey of non-native invasive species for Lake Champlain Land Trust at the Zen Center property in Shelburne, VT. Isabel, Colin and Nick are working with the Stowe Land Trust and completing a wildlife habitat assessment of Kirchner Woods in Stowe, VT. Abby and Marisa are also working with Stowe Land Trust, but they are taking a different approach and surveying for non-native invasive species in Kirchner Woods. Lastly, Mollie and Ray are surveying for non-native invasive species for the Native Conservancy at Raven Ridge, which falls in between Monkton, Hinesburg and Charlotte, VT. Everyone is really excited to take ownership of a project and put into practice all of the skills we have learned this summer.

Friday, July 29th

Today we continued doing work for our small team projects. All of the groups took today to really get into our fieldwork, and we put in a full day of surveying and data collection. We are all leaving this weekend feeling good and looking forward to some R&R before LANDS’ final week begins on Monday!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Weeks 6 & 7

Last week (week 6), we worked on a project with the US Forest Service mapping wetlands within the Green Mountain National Forest. It was full of bushwacking, wet boots, and plenty of herps! Overall, the wet boots were worth the chance to be in such unique ecosystems. We were lucky enough to have Jim Andrews, Vermont’s well-known herpetologist, come to educate us about what sort of creatures use the wetlands as habitat. Early in the week, finding a wetland was quite the task, involving weaving through the forest hoping to stumble upon saturated soils. As the week went on, it became much easier to find these spots. We learned to pay attention to the slope of the land, the proximity to water, and the way the plant communities change as you near a wetland.

This week (week 7) we finished our wetlands project and began a new project inventorying and assessing campsites in designated wilderness areas. Under the US Forest Service, we have been locating campsites and documenting their level of impact. So far, we have been mapping along the Appalachian/Long Trail near the Big Branch and Peru Peak Wilderness. This new project has been a pleasure, giving us the opportunity to be on trails and take in scenic views. No more bushwacking! We have also been stumbling upon some interesting items campers have left behind, including an entire tent! As the summer draws to an end, we are all looking forward to our final presentations when we will be presenting everything we have been working so hard to produce!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Week 5

Monday the 27th:

Today we worked in the office all day writing the report for the Colloredo-Mansfeld project based in Chelsea Vt. In the morning we brainstormed for any further formatting of the report which was conducted by the project managers. We then we split up to work on separate sections of the report individually. The project report required much creativity and cooperation amongst the group. The report consisted of recommendations for how to manage the land by focusing on the Common Lands Concept. This concept integrates the needs and wants of the community with the characteristics of the land which ultimately links the people to the land while also maintaining and enhancing the integrity of the wildlife and natural communities that currently exist. The report components were compiled and formatted into a single document by the end of the day with only some minor things to fix before it could be complete. It was a long and arduous day well done by the LANDS crew!

Tuesday the 28th:

Another long office day for the crew. A lot of brain power and meticulous map making was in process all day. This was the day that the Burlington Parks and Recreation project was resurrected from the depths of our notebooks and the cobwebs in our minds, being that it was our first project of the summer. This project report wasn't as recommendation-intensive as the Colloredo-Mansfeld report, however, there were maps that needed to be created by our four groups which was made easier with the help of our GIS wiz, Nick Dove. There were many invasive species that were found at four out of five of the parks that we visited. We ranked the parks by priority ranging from High to Medium using three criteria. The report was mostly finished by the end of the day, with the exception of some maps that still needed to be made. It was compiled and formatted and ready for editing.

Wednesday the 29th:

The crew was ready to get outside for some physical labor after almost two weeks of office work. Today we went to the Forest Service in Burlington to help neaten the experimenting field. For the first half of the day we worked on cutting shrubs and vines off of the fence, mowing around the experimental tubs in the ground, weeding inside the tubs, and replanting any trees that had died. At lunch we ate our food quickly and then played an amazing game of volleyball with some other employees at the Forest Service. That got us ready for round two of some hard work and after our break we set out for some intense digging.

There were four tubs filled with dirt that used to have trees planted in them for experimental purposes. But since the experiments were completed the experimenters wanted to take the tubs out of the ground.

Each one contained approximately six tons of dirt and gravel. We dug out and removed three out of the four tubs in about four hours! We all felt pretty awesome after that feat.

After all that hard work we went to Leah's house (one of the LANDS leaders) and had a yummy BBQ/potluck and got to see her bee hive which produces the honey that she often gives us.

Thursday the 30th:

Today was back to the office to work on project reports again, this time we worked on the Rockville Farm report.

This report was focused on the concept of the Whole Farm Assessment. The concept of the assessment was created by our Co-Leader, Zac, for his Master's thesis and is focused on shifting the concept of valuing a farm in conventional ways which are usually based on the crops and profits which they produce. Instead, the farm was assessed using non-monetary capitals such as built, cultivated, social and cultural, and the natural capitals in order to place a whole value on the farm. We got about 90% of the report done, with the exception of editing which we planned on doing systematically on Friday.

Friday, July 1st:

Today was yet another office day for us to finish up the Rockville Farm report. We organized ourselves into two-person teams to swap any written work we had finished with someone else to get our editing done efficiently. When we had finally felt 99% done with the report we switched gears in order to figure out logistics for our journey to Mount Tabor where we would be staying at the Work Center and working for the Green Mountain National Forest Service. Near the end of our day we had to discuss our food situation and plan for any gear that we needed to pack. We found out that we would be staying at the workhouse during the weekdays and returning to Burlington on weekends and would most likely be getting one day off a week because we would be working 10 hour days. We were given an overview of our two projects and were told that they would involve mapping wetlands in the wilderness area protected by the National Forest and conducting campsite inventory for un-official campsites along the Appalachian and Long Trial in order to assess the impact made in that area. The campsite inventory is a fairly new project and this would be the second time the sites would be assessed.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Week 4

Monday, June 20

Week 4! Wow this summer is going by incredibly fast. Today was split into two tasks. The first of which was beginning the write-up of the Rockville Market Farm and the Whole Farm Assessment project. As mentioned earlier the Whole Farm Assessment is a way to show the larger value of a farm besides the market value of the food it produces. We spent much of the morning brainstorming and planning what the assessment would look like. After, we began to work on tasks such as map-making and writing.

In the afternoon, we were introduced to our next project: an assessment of the Colloredo-Mansfeld property. Our graduate leader, Zac, had previously done a short assessment of the property with a few colleagues. Excited by the findings, the property owner, Susanna, hired LANDS to go into greater depth with an assessment. We split into three groups to assess the property: public access, agriculture/permaculture, and natural communities. We were all very excited to see the property the next day.

Tuesday, June 21 (Summer Solstice!)

With the opportunity of extended sunlight because of the solstice we decided we would do all of our fieldwork for the Colloredo-Mansfeld project in one day. What a long day it was! But it was hard to complain being at such a magical place. The property is 120 acres with forests, fields, ponds, and beaver meadows, and it is absolutely gorgeous.

We were also fortunate to meet with Susanna Colloredo-Mansfeld, owner of the property.

She described the reasons why she bought it (to protect it from development) and how it came to be a conservation easement with the Vermont Land Trust. It was a hard day of work put in by everyone, but we still had time to have fun picking wild strawberries and observing the wildlife!

Wednesday, June 22

After a long day of fieldwork it was nice to spend the entire day in the office. Today we began to brainstorm what we wanted in the assessment. Most of the day was devoted to research, writing, map-making, and brainstorming. The group responsible for researching historical features found some very interesting information in the special collections

section of the library. The more we learn about the property the more apparent it is that it is a very special place.

Thursday, June 23

Today begins the bulk of the work on the assessment of the Colloredo-Mansfeld. We began the day discussing what each group would be presenting in the write-up. We then discussed the structure of how the write-up would look. After this the groups split off to continue researching, writing, and map-making. The report is finally taking form and it is exciting to see it come together.

Friday, June, 24

We began the day talking with Denis Schaffer - Vice President of Stewardship at Vermont Land Trust (VLT). We talked about VLT’s Common Lands program, which is designed to make VLT’s owned properties more accessible to the public and to encourage new innovative ideas for managing their properties. We plan on incorporating this new idea into our recommendations for the Colloredo-Mansfeld property.

After a bit more guidance from Denis we continued writing our assessment of the Colloredo-Mansfeld property, which we plan finishing on Monday. Until then, keep it locked!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Week 3

Monday June 13th

Today was the last day of field work for Burlington Parks and Rec. It was a perfect June day in one of the most interesting parks we’ve visited yet. The Arms Grant Property abuts Rock Point, the Burlington Bike Path, and Burlington High School. It is a Rich Northern Hardwoods with limestone outcrops and a wide diversity of flora and fauna. The forest is minimally infested with invasive species and it was a pleasure to wander around the woods, listening to the birds, and finding wildflowers. We found common buckthorn growing throughout the forest, with multiflora rose, Norway maple, goutweed, and honeysuckle growing along the edges. Hopefully Burlington Parks and Rec will find the funding and time to get a crew into the forest to cut down the invasives and save this beautiful community resource!

Tuesday June 14th

Ah, our first office day writing the Burlington Parks and Rec report. Fortunately the weather was cold and rainy so we didn’t mind staying inside. We divided the report into sections; parks overview, natural communities, maps, recommendations, etc and all plugged away at different parts. At lunch we had the glazed eyes of those who have been staring hard into a computer, but spirits were high and creativity flowing. The GIS mapping ended up taking longer than expected, so the report was not quite finished by the end of the day, but it will be easy to finish up when we come back to it in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday June 15th

Today was a historic day! The first ever Whole Farm Assessment report started by LANDS. A Whole Farm Assessment is a way to quantify the entire value of a farming operation by looking at the ecosystem, community, and conservation services the farm produces. These services could be anything from carbon sequestration, to building a local economy, to soil conservation. They are critical to the well being of any farming operation but are not reflected in the economic profit of the farm and are easily over looked. Our job in this new project is to evaluate all the non-economic services the farm is providing and make recommendations about how they can be increased.

We are working with the Rockville Market Farm, in Starksboro Vermont. It is 108 acres, 25 of which are cultivated, in a beautiful agrarian valley. It is a mixed vegetable CSA farm with chickens, pigs, sheep, and goats. We got a tour of the farm this afternoon from Eric and Keenann Rozendaal who own the farm. We were all excited to see their chicken tractor, which we nick-named the chicken spaceship, filled with beautiful, clucking chickens.

We learned all about the terrible flooding which has put the farm two months behind schedule, the role of greenhouses in a diversified farm, and how the Amish make the most innovative farming equipment available. We happened upon the strawberry patch half way through our tour, and we all reveled in fresh-off-the-plant berries in the warm June sun. Life doesn’t get any better than that.

Thursday June 16th

`Today was our day for field work at the Rockville Community Farm. We divided the team into three groups to work on the natural, community and cultivated capital of the farm. The natural capital group looked at the forests, streams, and hedge rows around the farm to investigate what services the ecosystem was providing. The community capital group looked at the relationships the farm has with it consumers and neighbors and how it could be a center for learning and innovation. The cultivated capital group looked at the production side of farming, what infrastructure they used and how they could improve their farming practices.

It was another beautiful June day and we all enjoyed exploring around the farm, checking out the pigs, chillin by the stream, and interviewing the farmers. A particular treat for the community group was a visit by Reese, a UVM PhD student who studies story mapping. He showed us all sorts of different types of story maps and gave the group a lot of great ideas about how to make theirs of the farm.

All the groups were able to finish their field work today and are set to start writing the report!

Friday June 17th

Today we went out to the Rockville Market Farm for the last time, to do some service work. We spent two hours weeding salad mix to give back to the farm that has been so generous to us. It was a cool, cloudy day, perfect for doing field work! We all enjoyed the peaceful, methodical job, and an opportunity to chat and joke around with each other. At noon we drove back to the office, sad to say goodbye to the beautiful farm and the friendly dogs.

Back at the office we had time to work on our projects, typing up notes, consolidating ideas, and tying up the pieces until we are able to write the report, a week and half from now.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Week 2

Monday, June 6thWe kickedthe day off with an activity to get everybody on the same page before we embarked on our assignment for the day. Today we stood in a circle on the campus lawn and played predator-prey; a game that involves each person identifying one other person as prey and one person aspredator. The game is to make sure that you are positioned between them. As you can imagine it turned into a huddle of sorts.
We spent our day at the Richmond Library and at a property that the Nature Conservancy owns and manages. We were received by Donia Prince; a volunteer outreach coordinator at The Nature Conservancy. She talked us through a fabulous and informative presentation on invasive plants and how they have affected natural communities in various ecosystems. This was followed by a presentation that encompassed the new iMapInvasive software that is used to map invasive species.She noted that we would be the first in the country to use the new iMapInvasive software. A true honor indeed. We will be using this software as we embark on mapping invasive plants for various landmanagement institutions throughout the summer. Our day did not end there. We were then handed the task of cutting down an invasive plant named Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum).We did this armed with machetes (even make shift ones) and clippers. The Silver Maple-Ostrich Fern Riverine Floodplain Forest in which we worked on was one to behold. The understory of the forest was dominated by beautiful ostrich ferns - some of which were up to 6ft tall.We ended the day with a yoga session led by our very ownyoga extraordinaire, Story Wiggins. We headed into the evening to polish up our presentations on non-native invasive species, which we will give to the rest of the group tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 7th,
We kicked off the day with our usual routine of getting everyone on the same page; today’s activity was an energy wave game. This was followed by an interactive presentation by Steve Libby who is the executive director of the Vermont River Conservancy. The presentation focused on key elements of what it means to conserve land, terms used in land management, and how our work this summer will integrate these different elements. It was a very informative talk in which we as interns also took the initiative by asking questions on different scenarios that may arise during the issuing of conservation easements and what it means to have land conserved.
Our afternoon was dedicated to Liz Thompson who isa field ecologist and a Graduate Professor here at UVM. She led us on a quiet walk through a sectionof the Long Trail and then introduced us to the concept of natural communities in terms of plants species and soil makeup. She was very helpful in explaining how to identify natural communities; for example using tree species and digging into the ground to explore the different soil layers. We also got to test our plant identification skills by using Newcomb’s Wildflower Field Guide to key out plants that Liz picked out for us.
We head into tomorrow looking at our first real day of fieldwork where will be orienting ourselves with the GPS units and mapping out areas with invasive plants.Wednesday, June 8th,
We kicked off the day today with a yogic “Breath of Joy” that was led by our team leader, Zac. Today we got the opportunity to start our official summer work;mapping invasive plants and then recommending management strategies that the landowners could employ. We were scheduled to be at Leddy Park for the duration of the day.
Once we got to the site, we were split into groups of two and each was given the task to identify and map out all invasive plants using skills we hadacquired both through our team leaders and various avenues such as The Nature Conservancy training
. All in all, we had a fabulous day recording data and it seems that each one of us was one step closer to becoming masters of identifying invasive plants and forming observations that explain their abundance and richness in natural areas.
We head in to tomorrow with another field day; we will be based at Ethan Allen and Mount Calvary wetland.

Thursday, June 9th,
We started our day with a yoga session that was led by Story Wiggins. The yoga felt so relaxing and definitely gave us a kick start to the day. In addition to this Isabel fed the group with zucchini bread that she had baked at home. The flavor was so good it simply can’t be described.
Zac, our team leader, gave us a run through of the day’s assignment and Leah, our wonderful co-leader, handed us our “guidebooks for the day” (maps). We were scheduled to be at Ethan Allen for the morning, mapping invasive plants and checking up on their distribution, based on a report that was published by the LANDS crew of 2008. We spent our time referring to the maps and comparing the abundance of species and their location. Despite a serious mosquito problem, we managed to stay on task and stay positive. After lunch we headed back into the woods to finish up any parts of the park we had not completed. Our afternoon went smoothly until hail started falling from the sky, and most of us had to take shelter under the tree canopies to prevent injury and data loss. The hail and rain brought on a cool feeling that soon turned into muggy heat after it stopped raining.
From Ethan Allen, we headed to a swamp that was heavily, I repeat, heavily, infested with mosquitoes that thought it was Christmas as soon as we arrived. The property was ironically placed in the middle of a suburban neighborhood which was unique in itself compared to the other areas we had been that were secluded from the man made environment. In this property; known as Mount Calvary, we were also checking for invasive plants which to my surprise were not as abundant as in the other parks we had visited before. This greatly reduced our time collecting data and also the mosquitoes’ dinner.
We head into tomorrow with a brief orienteering session that will be led by Leah. We will also spend our time at the McKenzie property and finish up on some work that we had not completed on Tuesday at Leddy park.

Friday, June 10th
Our day started off with a quick session of “keepers and obtainers” that called for each of us to make observations of what we want to keep doing in terms of protocol for data collection and also what we would want to do better or learn. This was a very positive time of the day since members of the team gave feedback on these issues.
Leah gave a short lecture on magnetic declination and finding the bearing between two different points on a map using a good, old fashioned compass. We were then scheduled to be at McKenzie Park for some more invasive plant mapping. Little did we know that this would be another mosquito haven where we would have to be strategic in how we evaded their attacks. All in all data collection went smoothly and all groups worked together to complete their work in due time.We spent our afternoon finishing up on collecting
data at Leddy Park. This took no more than an hour a
nd we were soon on our way back to the Greenhouse (our home base) to start entering data that we had collected into the new iMap software. The day was both relaxing and very productive in terms of how efficient all groups were in collecting data.
We went into our weekend grateful for the collective positivity of our group, and excited about the possibilities and adventures the summer holds in store. Until next week, keep it locked!!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

LANDS 2011 Blog: Week 1

Welcome to the LANDS 2011 blog! We have a great crew this year; we are composed of 9 students, many from Vermont but one hailing from South Carolina and one international student coming from Kenya.

We are all excited for what lies ahead.

Wednesday, June 1st 2011

We had our first day of the LANDS program on Wednesday. Most of the day was spent doing orientation activities (figuring out our pacing), playing ice breaker games, and getting to know the natural areas of Burlington. We took a walk to Centennial Woods where we had an introduction to GPS, a lesson in navigation, and began to identify some non-native invasive plant species. We all participated in a challenge that put these skills to the test. We started at a specific location in the forest then had to navigate through Centennial Woods back to our starting point using a compass, our GPS unit and our logic. It was a fun and exciting premiere of a great summer to come.

Thursday, June 2nd 2011
Thursday was a very exciting day for everyone as we trucked out to Jeffersonville to visit John Hayden at The Farm Between. The LANDS program is interested in incorporating sustainable agriculture into the cons-

ervation curriculum, as managing our working landscape will be just as important as conserving our wild spaces in the future. Hopefully, sustainable agriculture will become a permanent part of the LANDS program for years to come.

We spent the morning getting to know John and his mission then went on a thorough tour of his sustainable agriculture operation. He spoke to us about his philosophy and we were able to ask

him questions about his farming practices. He runs an inspiring farm built on the idea that small is beautiful, the notion that diversity is critical, and a passion for the natural world and the living organism that is a farm. John and his wife Nancy have been working their farm for 20 years, working towards local food sustainability in and around his community. He has created many innovative and cutting edge practices that help him to fertilize soil without synthetic chemicals and maintain his farm as a cyclical community in which the animals benefit the soil, which benefits the food, which benefits the people. His farm is an outstanding example of what human creativity and innovation can achieve, and how much food we can produce in a small area with minimal technology.

After a great introduction to his farming plots--and many animal friends--, we sat down for lunch before getting to work. After lunch we helped weed the greenhouses and vegetable plots, stabilize tomato plants, put down cardboard mulch, and crimped cover crop on next year’s vegetable plots. It was an informative, fun and engaging day at the farm.

Friday, June 3rd 2011

This was the most labor intensive day during our first few days here at LANDS. We spent our day at the Forest Service property in Burlington. Our work encompassed a wide variety of tasks: hand weeding, tearing down fences, pruning, and basically sprucing up the property. We were also joined by Prof. Dean Wang who was there to lend a helping hand and instruction of protocol. By 11am I could tell from the faces of most of us that hunger and thirst were creeping in and much needed. Leah, one of our LANDS le-

aders, signaled a break with a high pitched whistle and we did not hesitate to heed her call. We spent our lunch time eating out in the sun and getting to know one another. Work progressed onward after lunch until about 3pm. We headed back to the GreenHouse (our summer headquarters) where weekly jobs were assigned.

We head into the weekend with a 10-minute presentation that each of us has to prepare. The presentation will be focused on informing the rest of the group on non-native invasive species. Till next week; keep it locked!!