Monday, July 27, 2015

Days 10 & 11: Happy Birthday, Ashley!

Day 10 - Northern New Hampshire/Maine

Hello!

Today was a very eventful day. We met our new supervisor, Jon, and his intern, Julia. We had a very fast car ride to Maine for our new job, where we hiked up Mount Tom with our tools to build a water bar. Water bars are made so that when water runs down the mountain, the bar prevents it from ruining the trails for hikers.

We were able to finish a good portion of the work and were super tired. We came home to eat very yummy burgers made by Ashley and Andrea. We fell asleep right away from how exhausted we were from all the hard work!

Your 2015 LEAF Crew

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Day 11 - Northern New Hampshire/Maine

Hello!

Today was another great day. We woke up and drove to Maine for work. We hiked up Mount Tom again and were able to completely finish our whole water bar.

Mmmmm... cake!

After work we headed for the beach with Wink to celebrate Ashley's birthday. Deanna made a wonderful cake and the girls (and Wink!) sang Happy Birthday. Then we all got in the water until it was time for dinner, where we were treated to the FOOD. It was delicious.

We then headed home and fell asleep, excited to sleep in the next morning.

Your 2015 LEAF Crew

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Day 9: College Visits & Corn on the Cob

Day 9 - Northern New Hampshire

Welcome back!

Today was a great day for all the girls. Sadly we had to move out of The Pines Guest House. We are all going to miss the lovely people we met there, such as: guests staying there like Rita and her husband; the owners, Mary Margaret and her husband; the amazing people we worked for like Joanne and Michael.

However, today marks a new adventure. Today we went to a college tour at the University of New Hampshire. There we got to learn all about the school, and even got a special tour from Tom Lee, a professor there (and NH chapter trustee!) He was able to take us around the science department and talked to us about not only college, but different aspects of college that you won't get on a normal tour. He invited us to his lab and even joined us for a delicious lunch at UNH.

After an informative morning, we drove up to Conway. We were able to see our new home for the next couple of days. We quickly found out that we all had bunk beds that we had to share. But we do hope to learn from this experience. However, we do love the fact that there is a dog at this location:

Deanna clearly loves the dog.

After checking into our rooms, we headed out to buy groceries. Once we got home, we unpacked and Claudia and Nadia made a splendid grilled cheese with tomato soup with corn on the cob. Wink joined us for dinner too!

Afterwards, some of the girls played a board game called Apples to Apples, which Andrea dominated in. We quickly got tired from an exciting day, and headed to bed. Hope you all enjoy!

Ashley & Your 2015 LEAF Crew

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Day 8: Goodbye, Southern New Hampshire!

Day 8 - Southern New Hampshire

Friends!
Today was our last day working in southern New Hampshire. But it was a good last day. We got to work with both Joanne and Mike today! We spent the morning installing bog bridges, but on the Sweet Trail this time. A tree had fallen on a couple and some were just breaking and needed replacement. With our super muscles from Friday, we installed all four before breaking for lunch. To be fair, they were only 2x8's that were two years old instead of 2x12's, brand new. We also only had a carrying distance of a few hundred feet... but still, we did all three in like two hours.

The most difficult part was not installing the new pieces, but removing the old ones. They were not as demolished as in Manchester, so they required some serious manpower and tools: sledgehammers, grub hoes, crowbars, we had it all! We finished so early before lunch, we even did some trail clearing with loppers and did a bit of invasive species removal.

Dedication stone at the end of the Sweet Trail.

Lunch was a fantastic experience. To Joanne and Mike, thanks so much. It was a great spot. We grabbed our lunches and walked out to the end of the Sweet Trail, where there were some benches and an opening to the salt marsh, which we were looking out on. We also used lunch as a photo op. We explored and learned about the ecosystems on the salt marsh, and took some group shots.

After lunch, we cleared out the area we ate in, to make it more welcoming to visitors. We just did the basic lopping and pulling where necessary. We worked our way up the trail, and then decided to wander off to go see the osprey's nest (we also heard its call!)

Check out that view!

When we returned it started to rain, and the storm looked menacing. But we waited it out and it was totally fine. As a result, we moved on to Plan B, which was putting up signage. As a result of the installation of the Sweet Trail, a bunch of the old little loops had confusing signs. What we did was put up a main sign for one loop, and then replaced the yellow signs with blue ones on the trail in order to clear up confusion. We also added a sign telling hikers that the Sweet Trail is not a loop trail.

We headed back in, and rushed home to shower and get ready for our 6 o'clock dinner at La Festa. We had the whole southern New Hampshire gang there: Len, Joanne, Mike, Megan and all of us. We ordered five pizzas, the highlight being the pepperoni with a garlic knot crust. We had lots of leftovers... which will not go to waste! We also had dessert (there's ALWAYS room for dessert) of cinnamon knots with icing. It was a great night out, thanks to Len and all who planned it!

It's kind of sad to leave The Pines and Socks and Whiskers (their cats), and all of southern New Hampshire, which we all loved. We really enjoyed our time here, and will keep you updated while we're up north!

See you soon,
Your 2015 TNC LEAF Crew

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Day 7: Cable Gates

Day 7 - Southern New Hampshire

Lovely Readers,

Hey guys! Today was our last day down in Manchester. We spent the morning installing two cable gates along a newly acquired parcel of land. These gates are put up to prevent ATV usage along the trails, as consistent usage of ATVs leads to problems like erosion. We used a cable wire which we attached to two trees running perpendicular to the path. In the middle there was a piece of PVC we slid on, which we then covered with reflective tape and spray paint to make more visible. We also put up caution signs on the area near the gate.

A fern at Manchester Cedar Swamp. Pretty! Photo by Eric Aldrich.

We broke for lunch, learning how to identify blueberries on the way back (and picking some to snack on). For our afternoon, we toured Southern New Hampshire University with Mike, who graduated this spring. We talked to the Dean of Arts and Sciences, and all loved it!

Tomorrow we're installing bog bridges. We'll update you then.

Sincerely,

Your TNC LEAF Team

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Day 6: Some Time Off

Day 6 - Southern New Hampshire

Hello TNC Readers,

Today was our lovely Sunday off. We ventured out to Hampton Beach, but it was absolutely packed (and parking was exuberant... $30 a day!), so we ended up at Rye State Park, which was just as beautiful. It has this nice grassy area and a beach with a sandbar that goes out for what seems like forever. We waded, tanned, read, ate, slept, talked, and had a great day. We were joined by our mentor Deanna's friend, Kristen, who drove three hours from Vermont to visit.


Rye Beach. This nice photo is by Flickr user Chris Luczkow via Creative Commons.

We came home and did grocery shopping, then had dinner and some one-on-one check-ins with Deanna about work and life. The highlight of our night was a group movie, quite the chick-flick, Twilight: New Moon.

We're off to Manchester tomorrow. We'll keep you updated!

Sincerely, Your 2015 LEAF Crew

Day 4: The Great Bog Bridge Build

Day 4 - Southern New Hampshire

Today was the day we really had to pull the guns out. Today we fixed bog bridges down at Manchester Cedar Swamp. Bog bridges are those awesome two-plank wide bridges which exist in watery areas to help keep hikers' feet nice and warm (and not covered in mud). What I didn't realize before today is that these bridges are all made manually. People carry in the lumber, remove the broken pieces, and nail in the new pieces. In hindsight this makes sense, I just never thought about it when crossing the bridges.

Anyway, today these people who made the bog bridges were us!



We started our morning carrying in the heaviest piece of wood, a nice 2x12 (actually, we got kind of ambitious and tried carrying both a 2x12 and a 2x10, but it didn't go too well - these pieces of lumber weighed at least 300 pounds a piece). The 2x12 which was broken was also the hardest to remove because it was the least dilapidated, and the previous group had installed two 2x6's.

After that job was done (we also had to haul in the tools that round), we headed back to the trailhead to pick up another 2x10. We were joined by our good friend Len, whose lifting skills put ours to shame. We installed the 2x10 much easier than the 2x12, and split for lunch.

Our lunch furthered our discussion on the native plants in the area. Before we installed the 2x12, we took a tour around the swamp and learned about some of the plants. The American white cedar was the crown jewel of the swamp. It's a slightly endangered species due to the fact that it's super water resistant wood. We also saw a black gum tree. Unlike the cedar, it has no practical use besides making buttons (thanks to Len for that tidbit). So all the black gums are around 400 years old, while the cedars are less than 100--generally speaking--because the black gums were never logged.

We also learned that blueberry plants and rhododendron plants are in the same family, which is pretty neat. Our lunches also tasted great after all that hauling (plus Len brought cherries again!)



After lunch, we repeated the process with the remaining 2x10, and then got both of the 2x8's in a single trip! By the end, we all knew we'd wake up sore in the morning. But the hikes were super beautiful. We probably hiked 3 or 4 miles total, and it was quite scenic. We definitely earned our weekend. Our weekend should be super interesting. Saturday we're spending the day in Boston, visiting Harvard and the science museum. Sunday's still undecided... then Monday we're back at Manchester Cedar Swamp installing fences. More on that in a few days.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!

Sincerely, your 2015 LEAF Crew

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Day 3: Facing Invasives

Day 3 - Southern New Hampshire

Hello, lovely readers!

Today was another day out in the field. We took a bunch of transects around a preserve (17 in total, I do believe). We split into teams of three people to do this (after doing the first few together) and delegated the following tasks:



Many of our transects followed a randomized procedure, to ensure unbiased results. These transects are done in these areas about once a year to analyze trends in the invasive species concentrations, and how effective certain management strategies for these invasives have been.



For example, at our third site, the invasive levels were rather low, under 40% or 30%. However, the previous year, it was somewhere around 90% in the same area, completely infested with bittersweets. After the herbicide application, our results were very successful, which is awesome. But basically, here's how you would record a few points:


We spent almost the entire day collecting data on these transect points. We did some invasive species removal after collecting our data, as to not disturb it. After the day was over, we all felt significantly more comfortable with species identification (native and non-native!) We also made an effort before lunch to clean out an area covered with bittersweet and autumn olive, in hopes it will become a turtle nesting site.

We ate our lunch in our cleared area, all of us super hungry from our hard work. In the afternoon, at the end of the day, some of us went to pull some garlic mustard. Disappointingly, we couldn't get the roots out of the first-year plants, but found a good chunk/patch of second-year garlic mustard which we picked and threw out. The reason this is kind of upsetting is because it's a biennial plant. The first year has no seeds, so pulling it that year would be incredible, and not being able to do so was kind of sad.

But anyway, we did do a ton of invasives today. Our dinner got devoured almost as quickly as lunch (quesadillas, beans, corn and chicken!!) We're off to Manchester tomorrow, which should be super fun. More on that tomorrow.

Thanks for reading!

Over and out,
Your 2015 LEAF Crew