I took a little walk over to Herbert Run this lovely afternoon to pick up a Geocache that is located in about the center of our forestry plots.  I noticed that some of our tree tags had been removed and soon found a group of college students playing guitar and picking at another tag on a tree.

I approached them and asked if they would not remove the tags, explaining that we use them for a long term mapping and inventory project.  I assured them that we were not planning on cutting down the trees, but was still confronted with the declaration that I had disrupted the beauty of the forest, to the tune of Grateful Dead chords strummed out on their acoustic guitar.  

What could I say to that? In some ways I agreed with the temporally displaced hippy children, but at the same time couldn't help to note the very non-natural settings within and around which this small patch of forests survives.  The ever-replenished pile of chip bags, beer bottles and cigarette packs as well as the cement-channeled Herbert Run creek nearby are a constant reminder to me of where I was within the urban matrix.   But at the same time those woods, barely 200 m wide, offer a small sanctuary from the hum of computers, deadlines, and busy life.  

The research must go on, but how can we work with the community?  Perhaps put up a small sign at the local rope swing, which by the way isn't natural either and leads to a good bit of erosion...

Ah, the joys of working where people are!

Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Treehugger.jpg

Views: 90

Comment by Andrew Daniel Jablonski on December 3, 2012 at 7:15pm

This is actually a pretty interesting, and tough question to address. I think part of the problem is we don't really have high visibility of our activities on campus. People walking through the Knoll or Herbert run see all these tags, but don't know why they are there, who put them there, what they are for, etc. There is no face/entity attached to the change. 

I'm tempted now to use the My-umbc discussion boards to make a PSA about not touching the tags. That also could be a useful way to create additional interest in our activities.

Comment by Jonathan Dandois on December 3, 2012 at 7:49pm

I don't know if we need to make a myUMBC PSA.  Maybe a small information/ interpretive sign at the site is enough.  These are common in forest management areas of parks where the forest cleared for some reason (e.g., pest control) to help people understand why it is sometimes OK to do something they think is not OK.

Comment by Erle Ellis on December 4, 2012 at 11:37am

Not too surprising- I was kind of expecting this.  Hopefully, we have a way of replacing the tags?

We should make signs and ask the relevant folks on campus to get permission to post this, along the lines of "ecological research site, please do not disturb"  and then with smaller text describing the reasons the trees are tagged, and that the purpose is to increase the value of the trees for future generations and should be treated with respect.  We should also have a web link to our site where we describe our forest ecology efforts...

Does that seem appropriate?

Comment by Jonathan Dandois on December 4, 2012 at 11:58am

We will get blank tags and set of dies for renumbering trees, map print outs will probably be necessary for figuring out what the numbers should be.  I can contact the groundskeeping office about a sign.

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