Being new to this forestry project, I came on board in August 2012 with few expectations and much anticipation. I was introduced to the methods used for this type of environmental mapping and was shown the two locations we were expected to cover, the Knoll and Herbert Run. (The Knoll is covered by a mixed-age forest, which included beech (Fagus grandifolia), oak (Quercus spp.), and hickory (Carya spp.), as well as white ash (Fraxinus americana). The Knoll was a good starting point for a novice, as we covered the proper procedures for marking plots in 25m sections and learned about the proper tagging of trees which met DBH requirements. The terrain was reasonably flat, with some modest sloping, and was populated with neatly spread-out trees. Once I had my center points and corner points sorted out, I, along with my fellow RAs, were "good to go". We moved across this landscape at a modest speed at first, but with each day, there was improvement.
Herbert Run was another story. The forest was more removed, and it had a sense of "other-worldliness" about it. I felt more “in touch” with nature there, but the euphoria was short-lived as a wasp - whose nest I had unknowingly disturbed - let me know quickly that I was on its territory. OUCH. The message was clear.
Another challenge was the abundance of poison ivy and sticker bushes. In the summer heat, I learned that being covered from head to toe in long-sleeves and sweat is preferable to rashes and unexpected piercings. Also, the slopes of the hillsides were demanding – standing upright was not always an option. I must say, though, there was one particular portion of the slope that I truly welcomed on said sunny day. That part was at the riparian border, where a gurgling stream made its way through the “Run.” Between the damsels and dragonflies, we set up lines to map out this patch, and with cool stream-bed underfoot, this brought back to mind how truly enjoyable this important work was.
Each day, I learned more about forestry techniques and environmental mapping, and each day, I understood just a little bit more about how this all fits into the bigger picture. There is much work left to be done, but I suspect this will never get dull. This project will always pose a new challenge, but in the same vein, it will always give us an opportunity to come up with a new and novel solution. Onward we go...