By Amanda Cugno, Stewardship Network Extension Fellow, Summer 2016. Amanda will be a senior at the University of New Hampshire working on a degree in Wildlife and Conservation Biology.
I had the opportunity to work on a brand new project for UNH Cooperative Extension this summer! Emma Tutein, who works in natural resources and land conservation for Cooperative Extension in Rockingham County, is helping to launch a trail mapping program for New Hampshire! After hearing again and again how little known trails are to to public, Emma decided to try mapping trails onto an online database called TrailFinder. She hopes to work with volunteers to use an application for mobile phones called Track Kit to map the trails on the ground and then upload them to the website along with pictures and information about usage. This will bring all of the trail information people look for to their fingertips.
To test run the mobile app, Emma took myself and the Cooperative Extension Community Development intern, Maddie DiIonno, out to map trails in Durham. The app uses GPS to track the user's path and marks data points along to trail so that the track can be converted to a GIS (geographic information system) or web-based format. We found the app easy to use and the whole process took a lot less time than we expected! Emma was pleased with the results, as she hopes to open this program to volunteers and have them map their local trails with the app. Cooperative Extension hopes to help bring many New Hampshire trails onto the TrailFinder website.
Finishing the Durham trail project early in the week left Emma and I time to help Phil Auger at Southeast Land Trust with some land management work on their Burley Farm property. As I mentioned in a previous post, the Burley Farm is one of my favorite properties, so it was great to go back there to help out! We put up flagging to mark the edges of a planned timber cut and worked on invasive plant control.
Following my week with Emma, I was back with BearPaw Regional Greenways for some more boundary work on their properties. I walked some properties with Phil again to put up flagging and signs to mark the boundary line and take pictures to document the property. Dan Kern, the Executive Director of the land trust, sent me out to do some properties on my own. I was surprised that he trusted me to find my way back, but after a dip in a stream, a bee sting, and climbing up a rock face, I managed to get back to my starting point! I wrote up reports of the properties for BearPaw's records.
For the last week of my internship, I worked with Brett Ferry at NH Fish & Game again to help with the New England Cottontail project and the Tern project on the Isles of Shoals. We took the rabbit traps we had previously put together and moved them to a different location with the shrubby New England cottontail habitat. We baited the traps with apples and left them open overnight. We set out the following morning to check them, but unfortunately we were unsuccessful. Brett will try to trap some in the coming weeks in order to to take tissue samples and tag the rabbits with radio collars in order to track their movement.
We also set out to the Isles of Shoals for an overnight stay at the lighthouse house on White Island...what a treat! The Shoals Marine Lab staff staying on the island gave up a warm welcome. Their seasonal staff monitors the tern colony throughout the summer. Part of White Island is the rocky tern nesting area. We arrived by boat in the morning and got to the nesting area as quickly as we could before high tide hit. The terns require open rocky areas for their nests, so the Fish & Game department manages the area by clipping back shrubs and spraying herbicide on the grass and plants to create more open space. They are also planning for a controlled burn on the island in the fall to remove as much vegetation as they can for the terns.
We got done spraying just in time to make it back to the house before high tide rolled in to block us off. The island dog, Sunny, followed us around and played with us after our work was done. She was hired for the summer to prevent the terns from nesting next to the house. Though the plan is to create space for them, they can be extremely aggressive when they have eggs and chicks at the peak of the season, so it's smart to keep them a safe distance away. The staff also let us up into the lighthouse so we could climb to the top for the ultimate view of the islands and the ocean.
This entire internship has been a rewarding experience, with such a variety of projects. From land management to forest inventory, to trails and endangered species, I have learned far more than I expected and had so much fun doing it! I have great respect for the Stewardship Network and their dedication to their work, and thank them immensely for this unqiue opportunity. I am excited to start this type of work to continue giving back to our beautiful land!