During week 4 we went south to the cute little Town of Grafton, as described by our fellow intern Katherine. Our task was to do a post-hurricane Irene assessment of the Saxtons River, and re-visit some sites assessed by Evan Fitzgerald before the storm. Most of us didn't have much experience in this area so Evan gave us some guidelines on how to conduct a rapid stream assessment and features to look for such as erosion, mass failures, point bars, woody debris, invasive species and other interesting stuff along the river.
We arrived at Grafton on Tuesday and we stayed at Palmer House, a very nice house, lots of rooms and I got to sleep on a real bed! (by the way, I've been camping at Jericho Research Forest since this program started, so I was very excited about it!). We headed down to the river, which is across the street from the house and started walking upstream to get a sense of the landscape, river dynamics, structure and geo-morphology. In the afternoon we divided into groups to go to different sections of the main stem and the southern branch, and collect data on our first cross sections. We had some minor issues regarding how to collect the data, however after a thorough discussion about the terminology and methods, everybody was on the same page. We became familiar with terms like bankfull, thalweg, buffer, floodplain and floodprone areas, incision ratio, entrenchment ratio and width to depth ratio. We were experts at identifying important features such as erosion and we got super excited every time there was a mass failure on the river banks. Tuesday afternoon we met with Beth, the nature center director, and she talked about the stream restoration projects that the kids from the school were working on, and their efforts to eradicate knotweed. It was everywhere!
Besides working, we planned some awesome themed dinners, fiesta night, italian night and asian sensation night, we also had chocolate cake and ice cream. The food was really good! To entertain ourselves we played frisbee, had a campfire the first night, ate smores and made-up scary stories about the town and our house. On Wednesday, groups went out to finish assessing sections of the river and collecting data. It was challenging because it was raining, the water level had increased and thunders told us to get out of the water, so we did! Thursday morning was our last day, and we finished data collection and got ready for our presentation in the afternoon at the Grafton Inn.
It was our last night at Palmer House, and it was the ideal place to play a game of sardines. We had lots of fun, at least I did! It was a great experience, but it was time to say goodbye to Grafton, goodbye Palmer house, what a lovely place!
Questions, comments, concerns, donations???
Gabo and the LANDS Crew