12 Jul Ocmulgee 101: What I’ve learned
Invasive Plant Management holds a lot more to it than one would think when first hearing about the subject or even reading a project description about Plant Management and Natural Resources. Like most jobs, there is so much more than the description states that you must endure, and I have learned so much that Natural Resource teams go through when dealing with Plant Management. I would like to point out now, none of this is necessarily bad, just some things that I have learned that beforehand I would have not thought about.
For starters, there is a lot of maybes and possibilities and decision-making when it comes to natural resource management. There are many invasive species not only here at Ocmulgee but also in our own backyard, however, when it comes to plant management you can’t do everything or win every single battle – there simply are not enough hours in a day. So when it comes down to deciding what to do with all of the invasive plant species, we decide to deal with the most pressing and most nuisance species. The others, we simply let them be until they became a major issue or we have more time and hands to deal with the issue. But that also comes down to what is invasive and what is not, for example, this green wavy type leaf to the left. There are two species that look quite similar to each other, both being basket grasses, however, one is native and good for the ecosystem and the other is invasive and a troublesome plant. This is where we take our time and truly analyze and ask experts for their opinion and do research in order to establish species type and whether it is something we need to worry about, once again, decision making. The image to the right is a Macartney’s rose…or possibly? My supervisor had me take many pictures of the flower, leaves, stem, bugs around and on the plant, the veins of the leaf, the underside, etc, all for research purposes. This plant may be mistaken for another plant that may also be invasive. However, even if this is a case of mistaken identity for another invasive plant, this is still an issue that has to be solved, all plants are different and therefore their treatment measures are different. A lot of decisions on how to do things most effectively and efficiently are made every day and I have learned to adapt and be able to see more and ask more questions in order to get the thinking going.
When in Natural Resources there is a lot of fieldwork, however, there is also a lot of office/computer work along with meetings, whether in the field or in the office. In the image above, the Natural Resource team is guiding a tour for GDOT (Georgia Department of Transportation) showing our rivercane restoration efforts in order for GDOT to take notes, see what works and how to do it in order to implicate those same efforts on their own rivercane restoration. This, while not being too major of a hidden aspect, is a part of the job that does not get told upfront. However, it is a key aspect and something that is often implemented when in natural resources. Sharing the wealth of knowledge in order to achieve the same goal.
While I have learned a lot about plant management and natural resources within the National Park Service, I have also learned a bit about myself. This was my first ever time doing fieldwork, and while I am an Environmental Science major, I also do not like getting dirty, I do not like bugs, I do not like bearing the harsh weather conditions of degrees 250 Fahrenheit and above! However, I have learned that I am quite resilient and that I actually can do this type of work! While still not liking any of those things, I have learned to put that to the side when it comes to the environment. I have been able to open myself up to new possibilities and new experiences that I actually enjoy and would completely do again. I have realized how strong I am and that I am only getting stronger, I can not wait to see what the future has in store for me!