Monday, August 3, 2009

Week 9: Our last!

This week marked the last week of LANDS for the summer! And what did that mean? Time to wrap our projects up! With that said, the last week was certainly a busy week but an exciting and eye-opening week, as well, as we had a chance to see our work come to fruition.

On Monday, we worked primarily on preparing ourselves for the week ahead. The team made further revisions on the report for the Dorset Park Natural Area and worked in smaller team groups on our individual STP projects with our respective land trusts.

Tuesday morning, we jumped in Jazzelle and headed off to the Vermont Youth Conservation Corp’s (VYCC) barn in Richmond. We worked with the VYCC earlier in the summer, where members of their crew helped teach us LANDS crewterns some basics of trail building hands-on. This time, we reversed roles and we were able to demonstrate to the VYCC crew at Richmond some of the things we do as a college conservation crew. We gave a brief introductory presentation on the meaning of conservation and the importance of maintaining proper habitat for species, in our case, we used the black bear as an example. We surveyed for potential bear habitat by measuring red oak, white oak, and beech trees and looked for any signs of bear that may have been present. We taught the crew how to identify the three types of trees, measure the trees at diameter at breast height, identify beech bark disease and beech scale, and fill out inventory forms. We even showed them how to use the GPS units to take waypoints. It was a great experience to be a part of such an educational exchange. Coming from very different backgrounds, it was a fantastic way to learn from one another and have a great time while doing so.

Once back from Richmond, we indulged in a delicious potluck lunch and then continued work on the report for Dorset Park in South Burlington as well as work on our small team projects with our respective land trusts.

That evening at 8:30 pm (just as the sun was setting and the bugs were growing blood-thirsty), our interns set out to Dorset park to meet up with Barry Genzlinger, a bat expert in his free time. We walked out to the stream running through the property on the edge of the forest and waited with bat echolocation devices to search for bats. We determined (through the pattern of sounds at specific frequencies transmitted over the device) that there were large brown bats on the property, and possibly hoary and silver-haired bats, as well. We really appreciated Gary taking time to come out with us and share his expertise.

On to Wednesday. We met up at the Greenhouse slightly later than normal and proceeded to Dorset Park to meet with Mike Snyder, the Chittenden County forester. This gave the crew a chance to ask Mike any last minute questions about management options for the property. We received a great deal of helpful advice which will undoubtedly strengthen our report that we hand over to the City of South Burlington at the culmination of our 9 weeks.

Upon finishing at Dorset Park, it was back to the grind in the Greenhouse where we worked on the report some more and prepared for our presentation to South Burlington later that evening. After a dry run and some pizza from Leonardo’s on LANDS, we were off to present our findings and recommendations at the South Burlington town offices to roughly 20 South Burlington residents and users of the Dorset Park property. It was a great feeling to showcase what we have learned over the past weeks and to see such a great crowd of interested and involved citizens come together to see what we have done.

Thursday and Friday were days spent working hard in the office to finish the remainder of our reports. On Thursday, the team headed to the GIS lab in the Aiken Center to digitize our polygons that we created for the wetland delineation in the Green Mountain National Forest. Together, we managed to piece together our work and it was truly impressive to see it come together so well. Friday was more or less the same, with the morning spent to complete our small team projects for our work with tree different land trusts in the area. In the afternoon, we worked on creating our final presentation.

We, LANDS, have had a truly eventful and exciting summer and we look forward to presenting our work on Monday at 6:30 pm in the Aiken Center, Room 105 at the University of Vermont! We welcome anyone to join and we recommend you arrive at 6:00 for some heavy refreshments and hors d'oeuvres! We look forward to seeing you there!

Week 8

This was an office week, but we also focused in on our "small team projects" (STP's). STP field time provided our eyes and backs some much needed respite after hours spent hunched-over squinting at computer screens. Several interns also took a break from their usual work to show a class of k-12 science teachers how to use GPS. Above, Arthur takes a waypoint.

The Lake Champlain Land Trust (LCLT) team got intimate with Colchester's voracious insect population down at the Porter Natural Area. The Porter Natural Area is near the Colchester Bog and the delta of the Winooski River. There they are doing a rapid assessment that looks at a lot of different aspects. Non-native invasive species, native plant communities, and mapping the extent of beaver activity (above, beaver-girdled tree) are all part of the project which they are accomplishing all while trying not to sink waist-deep in "puddles".

The Jericho Underhill Land Trust (JULT) team got to explore the Gateway property, which is adjacent to the Wolf Run Natural Area in Bolton. They also had the unique honor of meeting with local tracker/naturalist-extraordinaire Susan Morse of Keeping Track (among other various projects and titles) to discuss a wildlife and timber inventory she conducted at the property. There they are mapping historically significant finds (old homesteads, stonewalls), trails and old skid roads, as well as vernal pools and seeps. They have also done a small amount of wetlands delineation on the southern half of the property. Above, Tim hard at work.

Last but not least, the team working with the Nature Conservancy (TNC) at Charlotte Nature Park and Wildlife Refuge walked and bush-whacked through honeysuckle/buckthorn hedges in the endless quest for insight and wisdom concerning--but not limited to--non-native invasive plant species. Initially a daunting NNIS project, the group explored the extent of the property and was pleasantly surprised to see Brown Thrashers, Eastern Towhees, and Red Fox sign. We also had the opportunity to chat with Mark Labarr, who works with Green Mountain Audubon, about some of the shrubland bird work he has done there in the past (and hopes to continue in the future). Above, a view of Lake Champlain at the property.

Finally, the team was hard at work wrapping up projects with GMNF and South Burlington.