Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Week 11: Mapping Invasives and Canoeing in Blizzards

After spending the first half of the week editing reports from our projects earlier this semester, the LANDS crew split up into five smaller groups of three to begin our Small Team Projects (STPs). From November 12th to the 18th, the LANDS interns worked with various community partners on small projects, where we were able to go out on our own and put our skills from the semester into use. Our projects varied from inventorying invasive species to identifying and assessing recreational river opportunities. Each group wrote a proposal for their focus project earlier in the semester. This week, the groups went out in the field to collect data and begin composing deliverables for associated community partners. Here's what everyone was been up to:

Lamoille Paddlers' Trail Inventory
Courtney, Chris and Michelle spent the beginning of the week working alongside Noah Pollock of the Vermont River Conservancy to identify and assess existing and potential access points, portage trails and campsites along the Lamoille River. The project was focused on the area of the Lamoille River east from Cambridge to its drainage point into Northern Lake Champlain. The project was working to identify locations for potential campsites along the Lamoille River with the goal of establishing a trail for paddlers with areas to camp along the way. The reconnaissance covered roughly 33 miles and was conducted over a three-day period, during which time the group paddled down the river in canoes. We encountered weather ranging from sunny skies to rain and snow! 

Courtney and Chris paddling in the snow.

Dog River Invasive Species Inventory
The Dog River Invasive Species STP group inventoried invasive species and mapped the their extent along the riparian area of Northfield, VT's town well field (the left bank in the picture). There was a lot of knotweed, some honeysuckle, and even some garlic mustard. The project is to help offer strategies for successfully implementing a healthy riparian buffer, and invasives are a major impediment to reaching that goal.

View of the Dog River

Lamoille River Invasive Species Mapping in Johnson, Vermont
Nick, Zoe and Grant worked in Johnson, Vermont along the Lamoille River documenting occurrences of invasive species, specifically Japanese knotweed and bush honeysuckle along the banks. We began Wednesday by paddling down the Lamoille in a canoe and kayak, using GPSs to take waypoints of where these invasive species were found.

We were the talk of the town with our hotrod Scion xB. 

On Thursday we went back to finish the section. However, we had a slight mishap with the canoe and a rock that didn't budge, and Nick and Grant took a tumble into the icy water resulting in 2 really cold people, a lost clipboard, and a short work day. Thankfully, nobody got hurt. So we returned Sunday to finish collecting data.

All in all, it was a great project, and we got to paddle on a beautiful part of the Lamoille River. 

Mad River Riparian Buffer Assessment
Bonnie, Jules and Sarah completed their STP with the Friends of the Mad River doing a riparian buffer assessment project. We started work early on Wednesday morning and continued field work on Thursday. Bonnie and Sarah took the bus to Richmond to meet Jules, and we all started off to Waitsfield to begin assessing riparian buffers. We travelled to eight different sites along the Mad River in Waitsfield, Warren, and Moretown. Six of the sites had been previously planted by the FMR and two were perspective planting areas. At each site, we evaluated the quality of the buffer and the survival of planted trees, if possible. We made recommendations for future tree plantings and maintenance at each site.

Our time on the Mad River provided us with amazing views, great weather, and the opportunity to brush up on our tree identification skills.

Northfield Natural Resource Inventory of the Dog River
Olivia, Flore, and Rachel spent the first day of the project in the library gathering resources, doing research, and creating maps of the area of study. On the second and third day, they set out into the field and met with their project sponsor, Christine Barnes of the Northfield Conservation Commission. In the field, the group walked along and through a three-mile stretch of the Dog River, from Northfield Falls to Norwich University. The natural resources that they inventoried along the river corridor to assess the river's health include soils, geology, hydrology, wildlife, and riparian buffers. The team had a lot of fun wading through the river and fighting their way through an upsetting amount of Japanese knotweed. This fun included Rachel giving Olivia a piggy back ride across the river in a section that was too deep for Olivia's boots. On the last day of the project, Olivia, Flore, and Rachel spent the full day summarizing their findings into an inventory report with recommendations, and creating maps of photo points they collected.

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