Thursday, June 28, 2012

Glastenbury Wilderness Project Week 2

This week the LANDS crew finished up our data collecting for the Glastenbury Wilderness. We focused our efforts on the interior of the Wilderness area.  This required a week of backpacking, and leaving the comforts of our beloved van, Bianca, behind.  On Monday we set off from the Greenhouse to buy our food for the week, and then headed to Leah’s house to pack all our gear.  We drove south to Glastenbury Wilderness and set forth into the forest.  As soon as we left the van a thunderstorm started.  Lightning struck relatively close to us, but we pressed onward.  We hauled our heavy packs over beaver impoundments, up steep hills, and over trails that had seen better days.  Arriving at the Goddard shelter was quite a relief.  We set up camp, ate a delicious meal of hot vegetable soup, and watched the rain fall.  And fall it did.  One of our tents flooded, and everyone in the group was soaked from the earlier hike in.  We went to bed early and hoped for better weather.
Bianca filled with our backpacking gear
Beaver impoundment along the Long Trail
                  On Tuesday we woke to some chilly and damp weather.  We ate our breakfast and planned for the day.  Andrew and Leah planned to hike back to the van and drive it to a better location for pick up at the end of the week.  The rest of the crew split into teams and divvied up which trails to monitor for invasive species.  We focused our efforts on the West Ridge Trail and the various spur trails that connected to it.  One team found some multiflora rose, but the rest of the teams were glad to not find any invasives on the trails.  We all returned to the Goddard Shelter in time for dinner.  There were many Appalachian and Long Trail thru-hikers who passed by the shelter, disappointed to find that it was full because of our crew.  Some hiked on to the next shelter, but others set up tents near the shelter.  We met quite a few interesting characters, and decided that from now on we would sleep in our tents and leave the shelters to the exhausted thru-hikers. 
                  On Wednesday we woke up and packed up all of our gear.  The plan was to hike to the Kid Gore Shelter, 4 miles down the Long Trail.  Along the way we would monitor any side trails that branched off the Long Trail.  Less than a mile down the trail we came across a fire tower.  The view from the top was spectacular.  There was nothing but forest and lakes as far as the eye could see.  
We continued down the trail until we came across the first side trail.  We sent two teams to check out this trail, and the rest of us hiked to the Kid Gore Shelter.  
The view from the fire tower
We stopped there for lunch and updated our plans.  Because many of the side trails that were shown on the map did not actually exist, we were nearly finished with our work.  We decided to hike the 5 miles to the next shelter, and then hike the final 2 miles to the van and finish up a day early.  Andrew and Sam hiked ahead to monitor an additional 2 mile trail for invasive species.  We all met back to the van by 6 o’clock and started the long drive back to Burlington.  We stopped for some delicious pizza in Rutland and made it back to Burlington by 9:30.
Dylan at the Kid Gore Shelter

Digging into our pizza
                  On Thursday we reconvened to input our data, clean the van, sort out the gear, and finish up various other chores.  While we were sad to leave the Glastenbury Wilderness behind, we were happy to enjoy the comforts of home and to look forward to our upcoming projects.  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

LANDS Blog, Week 3
 The LANDS crew just finished up our third week of work, spending the past 4 days in Southern Vermont in the beautiful Glastenbury Wilderness, mapping invasives and finding trails for the Forest Service.
Monday was spent in Rochester with Mary Beth Deller and Melissa Reichert from the Forest Service. We reviewed our work from last week, revisiting some of our sites and checking our protocol for entering invasives data. It was extremely nice of them to spend the day with us and make sure we were on the right track. We headed further south and made a stop at the Rutland Forest Service to meet with Jen and begin planning our work in the Glastenbury Wilderness. On the way down, we had an exciting stop as we came across a MOOSE! We pulled over for a quick photo op and watched majestic creature in its habitat. Finally we got to our last stop, Mount Tabor Work station, where we would be staying for the next 3 days. We finished off the night with a tasty pasta, spinach and ricotta dish.
Getting trained by Mary Beth and Melissa on some invasives
Tuesday was an early morning as we got up and headed down to Glastenbury, and we all had our own adventures, from bushwhacking through hobblebush and climbing up a stream, to 12 mile walks. We learned that 15 years on a map can mean a lot of change in the wilderness, including non-existent trails and many new trails. Luckily as we hiked the trails in the wilderness we found that invasive species were limited to the trail heads and parking lots, but were not getting into the wilderness.  After a long day of work, we made it back to Mount Tabor, and had delicious sloppy joes.
Ally and Sam looking over the maps with Emily
Wednesday was another adventure, with 90 degree temperatures. We found more trails, mapped some invasives and enjoyed the woods. To cool off we spent a few hours after work at a great swimming hole near Mount Tabor, where natural water slides made for a great time. Back at the research station we and ate a wonderful Brinner (Breakfast for dinner!), and some homemade nutella brownies.

Darren, Andrew and Teresa enjoying lunch at a beautiful stream

On Thursday, we packed up our bags, went down the Wilderness and mapped some more ground before we headed back to Burlington. We have covered a good chunk of Glastenbury, and are looking forward to heading back there next week to do some backpacking and cover more of the interior of the wilderness and along the Appalachian Trail.

LANDS 2012 Blog: Week 2

Monday, June 11

We started off our second week at LANDS by preparing for our first camping trip.  After we got all of the details nailed down, we headed off to Mount Philo State Park to do some invasive removal.

Evidence of all our hard work.
The plant we were removing, Wild Parsnip, has a chemical in its shoot that causes a condition called “phytophotodermatitis,” which results in large, blistering burns when the chemical gets on skin that’s exposed to sunlight.  Therefore, we were out in the heat in long sleeves and heavy work gloves for protection.  Thankfully, no one was burned and we managed to make a significant dent in the park’s infestation during the few hours that we were there.  After we piled (and then re-piled) the bags of parsnip, we drove up to the top of Mount Philo to change out of our now-contaminated clothes and enjoyed the beautiful view.

Tuesday, June 12

Tuesday was only a half-day to make up for some of the extra hours we’d be putting in while we were camping.  We met at the GreenHouse and then drove over to Oakledge Park, where we did some reflection exercises in the tree house and talked about some new duties we would have during our major projects.  Afterwards, we went on our first cooperative grocery shopping trip and managed to get everything (except the beans) in less than 20 minutes.  Then we all headed back home to prepare for the next day.

At the top of Mount Philo.
Wednesday, June 13

Today marked the beginning of both our first camping trip and our first project for LANDS.  We are working with Green Mountain National Forest through the White River Partnership to map invasives around the White River.  We spent the day learning about the invasives we’d be seeing with Forest Service botanist Mary-Beth Deller and then we explored Rochester to look for living examples.  At the end of the day, we went to Branbury State Park to set up camp and cook dinner.

Plotting out our routes for the day.
Thursday, June 14

We began Thursday by dividing up into teams of two or three and plotting out where each group was going to do their surveys.  We did the first half-mile of a road together to practice filling out our data sheets and then we split off to our respective roads, where we spent the rest of the day looking for invasives.  Some of the groups were on busier roads, while some ended up in areas that were more remote.


Friday, June 15

Friday was a bit more of an adventure than Thursday with some groups ending up on roads or trails that didn’t exist or that had been washed out.  Thankfully, no one was really lost and we even managed to get done and head back to Burlington a little early.
Dylan modeling our awesome hard hats.

See you next week!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Welcome to the LANDS 2012 Blog!

By Darren Schibler
June 8, 2012

            Meet the 2012 LANDS crew!  We’ll be posting our adventures on this blog throughout the summer, so check back weekly to get the scoop on the coolest conservation kids in the state!

From left to right: Andrew McDonagh, Leah Mital-Skiff, Stephanie Falzone, Kristie Warack, Ally Miller, Kelsey Peterson, Teresa DiTore, Darren Schibler, Sam Gersie, Emily Brodsky
            Our first week really flew by, even as our last member, Dylan Marcus, flew in from a semester studying abroad in Australia.  Unfortunately, he missed some general orientation sessions, as well as a seminar about land trusts and conservation easements on Tuesday with Steve Libby, co-director of the Vermont River Conservancy and a staff member of the GreenHouse Residential Learning Community, which will serve as our headquarters for the summer.

However, Dylan was able to join us on Wednesday for a walk at Gleason Brook in Camel’s Hump State Park with Liz Thompson, co-author of Wetland, Woodland, Wildland, the go-to guide on natural communities in Vermont.  Liz introduced us to some aspects of Vermont’s hardwood forest communities, including its geologic history, soil characteristics, and a few common plant species.

Doesn't Andrew look lovely with that Canada Violet? 
Before Liz and Dylan showed up, we had a bit of training navigating around the Gleason Brook area setting without GPS units, which we had also practiced using earlier in the week.  All of that came in handy on Thursday when we teamed up with Donia Prince and Molly Klepack (2011 LANDS crewmember!) from The Nature Conservancy to inventory invasive species like buckthorn and honeysuckle in the LaPlatte River Nature Preserve using iMap software, TNC’s user-friendly mapping program.

We wrapped up the week by returning to the U.S. Forest Service station on Spear St. to finish the landscape improvements we started on Tuesday, which involved clearing the experimental field and preparing the closed-system tubs for Prof. Deane Wang’s new research on the impacts of increased soil temperature due to global warming on plant growth.  It was some good, hard, dirty work, and we discovered Sam’s secret fetish for lawnmowing!

That’s all for now--we’ll be camping out in the Rochester, VT area later this week, so stay tuned for news on that adventure! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Welcome LANDS 2012

LANDS 2012 was launched Monday June 4th with a great new Corps.  Led by Emily Brodsky, Leah Mital-Skiff and Kelsey Peterson, this year's crew is ready to go to work!