Sunday, June 22, 2008

..and the projects begin

So at the end of week 2 our fearless leader, James, claimed that week three would be much more intense than the first two weeks. Well, he wasn't kidding. The week contained the same elements of education and service as we had experience before but this week marked the first of many longer projects we will be completing this summer. It was an action packed week in which we met with some really important players in this game of land conservation.


Let's preface this day with the fact that it was over a 12 hour day...but nobody seemed to mind. In the morning we met with the owners of a property in Orwell which they had recently obtained an easement on with the Lake Champlain Land Trust. While visiting the property we were able to observe the interaction between the land owners and the Land Trust employee. We also helped establish the easement boundary by marking it on the ground using the skills we had aquired in the prior weeks.
The afternoon was spent with Nancy Bell, an extremely influencial and powerfully inspiring woman. She is currently an employee of a national organization known as the Conservation Fund. She has been fighting for land conservation for years and has been extremely successful. Her success lies in her ability to help others realize how they are personally connected to the land. She not only shared her time but also made us an awesome dinner.


We began our first 'real' project. We are doing a natural resource assessment for Ethan Allen Park which is owned and managed by Burlington Parks and Rec. Our assignment is to complete the management plan which was started about ten years ago and never finished. The crew went out to Ethan Allen Park and met with Lisa, an employee of Burlington Parks and Rec. who introduced us to the park. The morning consisted of exploring the property and getting a feel for the area we would be working in.

The afternoon was spent planning. We discussed how best to split up the work and how to best use our time for the rest of the week. We decided on four main categories: vegetation, soils, trails, and cultural aspects of the park. In teams of two, using GPS and GIS we would create useful maps for Burlington Parks and Rec and the completion of their management plan.


The morning was spent in the field at Ethan Allen Park. In our teams of two we spread out and began mapping various aspects of the park. The afternoon consisted of a a fabulous potluck lunch and GIS analysis.


We put our project on hold because we were blessed with the opportunity to spend a day with the Chittenden County Forester, Mike Schnieder. We went out to the PresCo property which is a 1,700 acre parcel of land that is under the current use program and an easement. The crew gained a lot of knowledge about the responsibilities of a county forester, the current use program and forest management.


In the morning we were accompanied by the talented and brilliant Liz Thompson on a search for rare and endangered plants at Ethan Allen Park. With her expertise we were able to find eight different types of rare and endangered plant species. I think we can all agree that it was a pleasure being able to work with her again. The afternoon was spent doing more GPS work at Ethan Allen Park. Afterwards we had our weekly reflection and began planning for next weeks project in Tumbridge.
Although the work has begun to pile up it has simply ment more excitement and personal responsibility. I think everyone can agree that the people we met with this week are unbelievably inspiring but also seem to be very greatful for our interest which makes the whole experience much more rewarding.

No comments: