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.