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October 8th, 2012 by Cynthia Alonso

The End of Summer

Seeing as the leaves are now turning different colors and falling off the trees, it’s certainly hit me that summer has been over for more than just a little while, which also means that I’m no longer spending my days seeking out invasive plants or collecting macroinvertebrates in 80 – 90 degree weather for Mount Grace. As I look over my last post, not only do I yearn to be back at a stream under the hot sun, but I also realize that I’ve neglected my poor blog for quite a while.

Hopefully I can make up for it by summarizing what’s happened ever since the wood duck boxes.

Let’s see… Well, July was mostly spent doing invasive plant surveys at six different properties protected by Mount Grace. Doing invasive plant surveys is kind of similar to doing CR monitoring in that it entails walking through the woods without following trails. However, unlike CR monitoring, the surveys we conducted were done by walking several north-south and east-west transects of the properties (basically drawing a grid on a map and walking the lines of the grid), which can be quite a difficult task, as you never really know what you will encounter. Thinking back though, I realize that this is a very effective way of getting to know a property. Luckily, we did not find invasive plants in the majority of the properties, and hopefully the data we collected on the invasive plants we did find will aid Mt. Grace in approaching the issue on these properties.

That month we also had the opportunity to help Tom and Meghan with some  conifer swamp delineation at the Arthur Iverson Conservation Area. Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures of this place, but I remember feeling as if I was in the setting of a fairy tale story. When we were there, the ground was entirely covered by moss (mostly sphagnum if I remember correctly). Had it not been so moist, it would have been perfect for a nap! There were also several other types of mosses growing everywhere along with many ferns and small flowering plants, and of course, conifers. The delineation involved looking at several aspects of the swamp, such as percent ground cover of different types of vegetation and percent canopy cover.  I hope I get to do that again!

August was a bit hectic. Before our internship ended in the second week, we had to do our last round of macroinvertebrate sampling at the four streams we were working on, identify our samples and do the metrics for the month, as well as finish up our invasive species surveys and then write up the reports for both of these projects. On the last day of our internship, Tom, Davis, and Meghan took Doug and me kayaking at Tully Lake. Needless to say, this was a perfect way to end our internship (well, we still had reports to finish up…). We spent several hours at this gorgeous lake; first exploring around, then had lunch in our kayaks (with an amazing view of course), relaxed for a while (still in the kayaks), and explored some more before finally deciding that we were too numb to keep going.

A couple days later, I headed back to Austin, TX to spend some time at home with my parents and dogs before the start of classes a couple of weeks later. During the first few days, Doug and I finished up what was left to write up of the reports. I then got to enjoy the wonderful dry Texas heat and explore the trails and streams around my house, which differ largely in vegetation from those in MA of course.

My dog Fabio

 

Now that I’m back at Clark,  I get to continue learning about CR monitoring in my Small-Scale Land Conservation class, which involves going to conserved areas in Petersham once a week. It’s almost as if my summer has been extended, except for without all of the mosquitoes! In a couple of weeks, Doug and I will be presenting our LEEP projects for Mt. Grace at Fall Fest. Our presentation will involve  our results from our water quality monitoring at the Otter River watershed as well as our invasive plant surveys. We’ll start preparing for that quite soon!

I think that about sums up the last couple of months.

 

Read more from Cynthia Alonso, Sciences

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