In order to determine the success of tree thinnings and treatments, forest monitoring is conducted to quantify the changes of the forest health.
The best part about forest monitoring is using all of the different gadgets to measure the growth of the forest. We use a laser rangefinder for distance and angle, forest densiometer, angle correction sheet, CWD decay class sheet, DBH tape, a measuring tape, elevation, stakes, orange and red flagging tape, hammer, nails, compass, clinometer, map, chalk, and tree tags. The plots are preexisting areas within the forest in the park that have last been monitored five years ago. The plots are measured for herbaceous plant cover, forest canopy cover, and decaying logs. Every tree is also measured and recorded for its diameter, height, canopy height, bearing and distance from the boundary of the plot. There is a systematic way to monitor the forest in order to have comparable results. The hardest part of the procedure may be getting to the plots and finding the stakes that outline the boundary. There can be a lot of blowdown that can collapse once stepped on. The forest can become very steep in some areas that may make it hard to find proper footing. My favorite part of forest monitoring is the plant identification. I have learned many new species and variations within species that change my perspective on plants and trees I encounter. The temperate rainforest is vibrant, even on decaying logs there is life.The forest is like a mosaic with different working parts that come together to create a viable habitat for animals. This week, I was blessed with the rare sight of a mountain beaver!
“Today, across our land, the National Park System represents America at its best. Each park contributes to a deeper understanding of the history of the United States and our way of life; of the natural processes which have given form to our land, and to the enrichment of the environment in which we live.” George B. Hartzog, Jr., NPS Director, 1964-1972
The last few weeks here have been busy with field preparations and field work. Because we are working with insects, there are many details that go into preparing transects and in making sure we pack enough of what we need before going out. Aside from work, I went on my first hike in the park the second week I got here and got to do some exploring with a friend who lives in the area. On this first hike I encountered my first grizzly bear on the trail. I didn’t think bear encounters happened frequently, making this encounter feel as if it was just a figment of my imagination. Of course, till it started walking towards us. Luckily we followed procedure raising our arms in the air and backing away slowly and being a curious rather than aggressive bear, it simply continued eating, foraging for food while occasionally making eye contact with us. This bear was 25ft. away in front of us. Rather than taking a photo of the instance (which would have been a pretty terrible idea), I later decided to sketch the encounter from memory. My first drawing of the summer. It’s a little rough looking but I had to put it down on paper to con
vince myself that it truly did happen.
Anyway, my favorite plant here is the cotton grass which is only found in certain small sections of the park. They remind me of the truffula trees from the Lorax and are simply just comforting little plants to touch and admire. Aside from just enjoying the surroundings, I will be honest and admit that field work has been a little rough. Not the actual work and measurements, but simply the hiking that is required. I’m way slower that I thought I was compared to my coworkers and i’m always falling behind not because i’m stopping but because i’m slow and fall short of breath. It’s made me feel pretty weak as a team-mate and because of it I enjoy the microscope work way better.
Listening to the sound of water running through streams or rivers soothes me. I enjoy feeling the fresh current run through my hands. Who knew this is what a day in my internship would be like?!
I had the joy of joining the person who monitor’s Valley Forge and Hopewell Furnace’s water quality. After calibrating the probe, we set out to the various streams we were going to inspect.
In Valley Forge, the stream was a short walk away. During this walk, there was a little section that was muddy and laying there fully displaying its yellow and blue wings was a gorgeous Eastern tiger swallowtail!
In all my excitement, I didn’t get the chance to take a picture but just so you all get the idea of how beautiful this species is here is an image from google:
This is a species of butterfly native to this area. I knew that it has been previously seen at the park however, I had not encountered it while walking the transects for my project so I was so happy to finally see it!
Being in Hopewell Furnace was also amazing. This park has a very peaceful feeling to it and walking through forest under-story to get to the stream was great! This is one of the streams we checked for
quality. To do so, the air temperature barometric pressure were taken. Then the probe would be placed into the water and the sensors would measure the pH, dissolved oxygen available, conductivity, and water temperature. Then the stream width and depth were measured using a transect. This description may sound a little dull but I really enjoyed being out in the field and monitoring the water quality for three streams!