The day started with a visit to a managed forest. We compared the managed forest to the new growth and old growth stands we saw in the national park yesterday. Kevin, the forester, explained how he selectively cuts young trees to allow more desirable trees to thrive. He has to think about many factors when he chooses: species, how much sunlight it will need, how close it is to other trees, etc. In most areas he cuts out 20% every 10 years. In other areas, he clear cuts once in about 20 years.
Often when he cuts down some trees, he leaves them in the forest. Can you guess why?
Often he leaves standing dead wood uncut. Can you guess what standing dead wood offers the ecosystem that cut trees lying on the forest floor do not?
Here is a picture of some balsam fir trees he is growing in an area that was clear cut. The little one next to my camera case is 4 years old. It is spindly and tiny - you need to look for a thin bit of green a few inches to the right of my camera case. The bigger one behind it, but still in the center of the picture, is the same species. First grade: can you guess how old the bigger one is?
We also saw a tree stump that had been ripped to shreds by a bear looking for grubs.
After lunch we headed back out to our regular field site to begin a new round of trapping. First we had to prepare the 100 traps with bedding and food. Can you see the weather we had while preparing the traps? Look closely at those white spots in the air - it is not a problem with my camera lens. Come on, Mother Nature, it's April!
Tomorrow I'll be indoors so I can skype with the 7th grade. The rest of the team will head out to check traps, build habitat piles, and count deer droppings. I hope our scientists can come up with something I can do back at our house for the day that will be useful for their research. If I get lucky, I'll have something to report about how the information from the field is used if I can do some of that work for our scientists.
See you tomorrow, 7th grade!