Friday, July 24, 2009

Week 7

This week was our last in the Green Mountain National Forest (GMNF). We spent it working on the wetland inventory we started the week before…

…as well as all the office work that entails.

Kathy Donna originally outlined 15 areas for us to inventory, areas that have potential to contain wetlands. Between the two weeks we finished the 13 areas that were in main focus. It was really good work, hard but fun. With all of the beaver-downed trees to climb over, some of us realized just how short our legs really are. We got to see some really unique and beautiful wetland areas. There is so much more diversity that I ever realized.

Monday morning we met with Kathy Donna just to check in. We were very pleased to see her as she was leaving for a new job in a new state that very same day. Then it was out to the field!

Wednesday was packed full of activity. On top of a full day of wetland work, we had some fun adventures.

Before work on Wednesday we tested new safety goggles for Melissa Reichert. Safety is fun, and super-cool!

Later we got a mid-day break, during which a group found a natural waterslide right near the workhouse! Trust us to find it right before we leave.

That evening we met with Melissa Reichert to show her what we had accomplished. After that we got dressed in our least muddy clothes and enjoyed a dinner out in Manchester. James’ wife Audrey joined us.

Thursday was a half-day of work. Then we packed up and said bye to the GMNF workhouse (and our co-residents). As we left, we were talking about how grateful we were to stay there (especially instead of camping for 4 weeks). Communally cooking dinner in the well-supplied kitchen was one of my personal favorite parts.

And then all that was left was one final long drive back to Burlington.

Stay tuned in the next two weeks for the thrilling conclusion!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Week 6

The rain caught up with us...but did not dampen our spirits! We started our third week in the Green Mountain National Forest to work on wetland delineation. Monday we started our work day meeting up with Kathy Donna from the USFS at the field house for some in depth training on how to identify wetlands. Essentially wetlands have three main characteristics; they are inundated by or saturated with water, they contain wet or hydric soils, and they are dominated by plant species that are adapted to life in wet soils. We were given our topo map for the week on the areas that we would be working on and went outside for a brief look at a local wet area identifying plant species. One of the main reasons the USFS is having us identify these wetlands is for future tree sales and where it would be appropriate to cut. Some of these areas include class 2 wetlands which are identified on the Vermont significant wetlands inventory maps.

On Tuesday, we were back in the field with Kathy and Melissa from the USFS this time at our first wetland complex that consisted of a series of beaver dams. We did some delineation and GPS work using the knowledge we gained from the previous day. Thunderstorms threatened from above and as soon as we stopped for lunch, the rain unleashed itself! The second half of the day did turned itself around weather wise and we were back in the field to take some more GPS tracks and points. Later that night, we had a very enjoyable and enlightened dinner with Nancy Bell who is the Vermont Represenative of the Conservation Fund (a national organization that helps government agencies, non profits, and other partners acquire and protect landscapes used for wildlife habitat, recreation, history, and more).

The remainder of the week had us working hard on our designated areas, tracking streams, identifying wetland plants, and bushwacking through some hardcore hobblebush! Much was accomplished by all the teams by Thursday and we felt we had a great start on this new and exciting project.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Week Five

Coming from two weeks of hiking in the Green Mountain National Forest, this was a strange week for the LANDS interns. We spent most of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in the office, working on our final Calkins Property report for the city of South Burlington and the smaller report on invasive species infestations for the Green Mountain National Forest. The Calkins report is still in the planning stages, as teams begin to organize their data. The invasive species report involved a ton of data organization, GIS work and map labeling, but it is now nearly finished!

More work on the horizon: interns picked their STPs (Small Team Projects), and have begun to meet with project partners. The three STPs focus on land management, a topic that interns are beginning to feel very familiar with.

On Thursday, we spent the afternoon with the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps Richmond Community Crew. The crew was working on trail maintenance at the VYCC’s Monitor Barn, so we joined in and helped to build a rock water bar, found and moved boulders from the woods closer to the trail, and broke larger boulders into gravel for a drainage ditch. It was a physically difficult afternoon, and gave us huge respect for what the VYCC does on a daily basis. We’re also looking forward to another work day in the not-too-distant future, when we get to show the Richmond Community Crew what the LANDS program does!

We are more than halfway through our nine-week program! Where does the time go? Next week, we head back into the Green Mountain National Forest to begin a two-week project sponsored by the Forest Service, delineating wetlands. Thanks for reading!