Thursday, November 6, 2014

Week 10: Walking in a River Wonderland


We quickly hopped in the vans and headed over to Jericho Research Forest to meet with Ralph Tursini, Jericho's caretaker and forester.  We sat down next to the heated wood stove, and discussed the land use history of the research forest. 

Laura through the eyes of a ham sandwich.
Wetland explanation from our fearless leader.
The goal of this week's project was to assess the wetland and stream ecosystems surrounding Mill Brook on the northeast border of the research forest land.  Emily and Laura then discussed the definition of a wetland and what we may or may not see when we reach the project site.  We learned the wetland 3-H's Rule!  Hydrology! Hydrophytes! And Hydric Soils! Woohoo!  We were excited to get outside and get muddy so we hopped in the vans again and headed towards Mill Brook.  After a super short hike down to the brook edge, we worked on determining where the floodplain began and ended.  We spent the rest of the examining soils and plant species in certain areas throughout the floodplain to determine if it was in fact a wetland.


Tuesday we headed back to Mill Brook to continue our study of the brook and surrounding ecosystems.  Our goal for the day was to better understand the stream geomorphology through a stream geomorphic assessment and general observation.  Two groups split up and headed in opposite direction, sloshing through the brook to get to a specific area to conduct some research. 
Chris forgot his muck-boots.  He made it work anyways.
Lunch break on the sand (cobble) bar.

Suns came out for a second to make for a glorious moment!

Each section sampled was vastly different; one was in a steep, rocky canyon while the other was in a flat, wooded and grassy floodplain.  After measuring the width of the bank-full, and depths at certain intervals, we determined a cross-section of the river corridor.  We also took a samples of stream sediment to determine composition and comparative percentages of certain sizes of various sediment, giving us an idea on the stability of the stream.  After a day of wet feet and tired legs, we headed back to Burlington. 


Wednesday morning started with finishing GIS maps and other report deliverables from last week's work with the Vermont River Conservancy.  After lunch, we headed to the 40th anniversary of the UVM Natural Areas program at the Davis Center.  The day was filled with presentations from the programs partners, research scientists, middle school/ graduate students, and us!

Rubenstein Dean speaks to everyone.  LANDS is up soon!

 LANDS presented about who are and what we do, and how we play a part in the UVM Natural Areas.  We also got to show some of our work we conducted at the Carse Property. 


Shannon summoning her inner beaver.
Walking across beaver dams.
Today we started with compiling data from the stream geomorphic assessments and compared data between the two groups.   We then got to do some independent exploring and observation on the ecosystem connectivity, wildlife habitat, river geomorphology, invasive species, natural communities, and plantations around Mill Brook.  The day was spent trooping around through the river and looking for clues all around the stream. 

Next Monday, the findings of each group will be presented to the entire team. 

LANDS 4eva... Until next week, James and Nick

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