Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Week Four!

Monday we returned to the Mt. Tabor workstation for another week of invasives surveying and mapping. Most of the longer trails were assessed last week, but a good amount of roads and spur trails remained. Throughout the week most of the crew headed out in Jazelle (our lovely van) to survey, while a few people stayed back to work in the office. With all the invasives data forms and GPS points coming in, some GIS and organizing work was in order, not to mention the drafting of our final reports for GMNF and South Burlington. We were successful in finishing up what roads/trails the GMNF wanted us to cover, and then moved on to other areas we thought were important to check out.

On Tuesday Kate Walker stopped by to drop off more NNIS forms and talk about how things were going. Then we headed out to look at more roads running through the GMNF. On the way back we stopped by the Manchester Ranger Station to say hi. Alex Sienkiewicz, the district Ranger, gave us a tour of the facility, introduced us to the people who worked there, and even gave us some tips on how to secure a job with the Forest Service. Thanks Alex!

On Wednesday in addition to more surveying and report work, we picked a large patch of garlic mustard at a trailhead off of Tower Rd in Dorset.

On the way back we stopped at the local cafe´ to congratulate ourselves on some hard work done...

mmmmm..... just like old times...

Later in the day we had a meeting with Melissa Reichert to go over what we had accomplished in the past week and a half. In addition to the NNIS data we collected, Melissa was interested in any bear and moose signs we had encountered that would indicate high quality habitat and corridors that were being used.

Thursday was dedicated to invasives pulling along Rt. 259, one of the most infested roads.

It was a very productive week. In addition to all the field work and making a lot of headway on our reports, we decided on what will be our final LANDS projects! These “small team projects” (STPs), are all affiliated with various land trusts, and will be undertaken by groups of three interns each. The land trusts we are working with are: The Lake Champlain Land Trust (LCLT), Jericho Underhill Land Trust (JULT), and the Nature Conservancy (TNC). Unlike our two previous projects, where the objectives had been determined at an earlier time, for the STPs the interns will be more involved in the planning process. During the week of the 29th LANDS groups will be meeting with our respective organizations to draft an official proposal and determine a work plan.

-The team working with the JULT will focus on a 125 acre parcel JULT has recently acquired that adjoins the Wolfrun property.

- The team working with the Nature Conservancy will focus on the Charlotte Wilderness and Recreation Park in Charlotte, VT.

-The team working with the LCLT group will be focused on the 57 acre Porter Natural Area in Colchester.

For more information on each of these organizations:

-LCLT: http://www.lclt.org/index.htm

-JULT: http://www.jult.org/

-TNC: http://www.nature.org/

We are all very exited about what great opportunities these projects hold. More info to follow...

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Week 3

Here at LANDS we’ve completed the first of four weeks working with the Green Mountain National Forest. This week, we’ve already been able to rack up some impressive mileage on the trails and roads while surveying for non-native invasive species (NNIS). Please read on for more details about our work this week!

(Andrea L. hard at work filling out a data sheet on invasive species)

Monday began with a long and early ride down to the beautiful Mt. Tabor Work Center where we would be working and living for the next 4 days. I don’t think any of us could have imagined better accommodations, and are very grateful to the US Forest Service for letting us stay at Mt. Tabor this summer.

(Mt. Tabor Work Center)

Once we arrived at the work house, we met with Melissa Reichert, the Forest Manager and Planner. Melissa gave us an overview of the Dorset-Peru Landscape Assessment, an integrated resource project that will look at a wide range of resources in the area including recreation and vegetation. For these first two weeks at the GMNF, our job will be to provide information about non-native invasive species for the landscape assessment. Invasive species can severely alter ecosystems, so early detection of these threats (i.e. pinpointing small, recently established populations) as well as the subsequent rapid response to them can be a very effective method in attempting to control NNIS.

(Andrea B. removing common buckthorn)

Next, Kate Walker, the Wilderness and Trails coordinator, guided the LANDS team through the important list of NNIS’s we would be looking for in our surveys. We also met Kim Hoffman (UVM Master’s student), and Teresa Corliss (a visiting research fellow), who were able to offer helpful advice from their experiences working with the Forest Service and conducting graduate research in the field. In the afternoon, we attempted put our new NNIS knowledge and identification skills to work, but our time was cut short due to uncooperative weather. However, we were able to remove a sizable stand of garlic mustard at a trailhead before the downpour forced us back inside.

(The LANDS team working at Mt. Tabor)

After discussing our approach to the project and creating a work plan Monday evening, we attacked the trails bright and early on Tuesday morning. It was a great day to be outside, and the LANDS team scoured the trails and roads looking for non-native invasive species such as common buckthorn and garlic mustard. The road crew gets a special mention for their amazing work in logging over 60 occurrences of NNIS in one day.

The trails crews were able to catch some beautiful vistas and many were able to stop by Griffith Lake. Lydia and Andrea L. were even lucky enough to discover an historical mound of mulch dating back to the 1940s from an old logging operation!

Wednesday we continued our surveys down near Bromley Mountain. Again, it was a great day for fieldwork and we covered a lot of territory with great views from the top of the ski mountain. It also turned out to be a great day to see some wildlife, including ruffed grouse and a glimpse of a juvenile moose!

Sadly our last day, Thursday, turned out to be a rainy one. Six interns set off in the morning to work on our road surveys, while three interns remained in the office to begin prepping for the report that LANDS will submit to the GMNF at the end of our work. In the afternoon we packed up, piled in the car, and headed home for the long weekend, looking to rest and rejuvenate before our next week at GMNF.

Stay tuned for more information on our second week of work at the GMNF!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Week 2

This week was all about exploring the Calkins property in South Burlington and getting a feel for what kind of information we wanted to provide the town. On Monday we started out bright and early birding on the Calkins property with Noah Perlut, an associate professor at the University of New England. Having Noah listening and watching birds with us was a huge help in gaining some birding skills and assessing the wildlife on the property.

That afternoon we had Bradley Materick, Land Stewardship Specialist from the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC), walk the trails at Calkins with us. Bradley gave us all some great recommendations on managing the trails at Calkins and making them more accessible to its users.

As an added bonus to the day, we discovered a small Milk Snake on the trail who was very cooperative while we took turns holding him. The rest of the day we split into small teams put together to asses different components of the property including trails, wildlife, wetlands and rare and invasive plants.
Tuesday morning was for the plants. We met at Calkins with Bob Zaino, assistant ecologist with the Natural Heritage program. Bob enlightened us to some new herbaceous species on the forest floor and took us through some flower and sedge identification. We also looked at some of the natural communities present on our site from wetland to woodland. We spent the rest of the day in our small teams doing inventory and mapping at Calkins with our newly acquired knowledge and recommendations from our guests in mind.

Wendnesday was jam packed with Calkins work in our small teams. We really began to dive into the project and began making connections with our data and the city of South Burlington's needs. Steve Libby, professor at UVM's Rubenstien School, talked with us about his work with non-profit organizations and land conservation on Thursday morning and more Calkins work was done in the field and in the office in the afternoon.

Friday was our most physically challenging but most exciting day at LANDS. We got an early start and went to the Green Mountain National Forest in Goshen, Vermont to work on a restoration project with a vareity of professors and researchers focused on restoring the American Chestnut population to its native range. For anyone who unfamilar with Chestnut blight, the fungus was first introduced in 1904 and spread quickly though its host population, the American Chestnut killing off much of the species. It was a pleasure to work with such enthusiatic people and we wish them the best.

We are all excited to continue our work in Land Conservation next week in the Green Mountian National Forest and hope you will continue to follow our work!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Welcome to the LANDS 2009 Crew blog

We are excited to include you in our work this summer!

The first week has come to a close, and it went by faster than any of us could have predicted. Here is a brief synopsis of our week.

Monday was filled with introductions to the LANDS program, each other, and our work in the context of environmental conservation on a state, national, and global level led by UVM professor Deane Wang. In the afternoon we began discussing and exploring the natural area we will be working primarily in: The Champlain Valley.

(The interns left to right: Charlotte, Lauren, Lisa, Tim, Andrea B., Gavin, Andrea L., Arthur, and Ellen)

Tuesday morning we practiced compass work, GPS, and other skills important to working in the field. The afternoon was a hands on project in Williston VT with Jessica Andreoletti an environmental town planner. Jessica included us in a buffer zone restoration project and non-native invasive plant removal that had been just begun and needed continued attention.

(James instructing on GPS)

Wednesday morning we were introduced to the Calkins property in South Burlington. We will be spending a lot of time there in the weeks to come, and it will be an exciting property to work on with the town of South Burlington. At Calkins we practiced using GPS, and then in the afternoon we took our GPS points back to Campus for experience with GPS and computers.

(A glimpse of our home base)

Thursday morning was an intensive introduction to non-native invasive plants in our area through a presentation lead by Sharon Plumb of The Nature Conservancy (TNC).

Sharon also joined us in the field in the afternoon with Emily Seifert also from The Nature Conservancy as she directed us with hands on control methods of invasives management. We then got to practice the management by helping clear out some Japanese Knotweed which had gotten far out of hand in a floodplain forest on one of the TNC's properties in Richmond.

(Emily Seifert discussing invasive plants with the LANDS team)

(hands on practice with Japanese Knotweed.)

Friday was back at the Calkins property with our guest teacher Liz Thompson the author of "Wetland, Woodland, Wildland A guide to the Natural Communities of Vermont". It was a real pleasure to have her join us in the field and she was a wealth of knowledge and experience for all of us to learn from. We were also joined on the property in the afternoon by Cathyann LaRose an assistant planner for South Burlington and Craig Lambert the South Burlington Arborist to help give us some perspective on our work on the Calkins property.

(Liz Thompson discussing soils with us)

Thank you for your interest in our work!