Tom's Blog

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spring 2011 finally coming

Today was the first day in months that I have been able to get to the top of the ridge. The last week of sunny (although cold) weather was responsible for a lot of snow melt, and although we still aren't completely snow-free, our south-facing slope and ridge-top savannas are now bare. Both the pickup truck and the Kawasaki Mule started, even though they had been sitting completely idle since early December.

Although our woods road was still mostly ice, and not accessible, the trail up through the White Oak Savanna was open. Once on top, I went to the Far Overlook to check on the beavers. Darn! They were still there.

The photo here is a little distant, but you should be able to see two beaver dams blocking Pleasant Valley Creek. I'm not sure what the long-term effect on the wetland will be, but it's giving the ducks and geese paddling water. Also, there was a cluster of perhaps six sandhill cranes that were creating quite a noise.

The main work today was clearing fire breaks at both ends of the south-facing slope. By now, we have this down to a routine. The photo shows Susan, Marci, and Amanda clearing the break up the east end of the south slope. Two brush cutters and a leaf blower make fairly short work of the job. They go up to the top, and then widen further on the way back down.

Another job using the same equipment is clearing the bases of standing dead snags. This saves a lot of potential problems during mop-up after the burn.

I have always been interested in microclimate effects, and the photo below shows in dramatic fashion the difference between a north- and south-facing slope. The ecologist or forester uses the term "aspect" to refer to the direction a slope is facing. The area on the right (Unit 20) has a north aspect and is fairly closed woods (hickory, basswood, birch, a few maples), whereas the area to the left (Unit 12A) has a south aspect and is white oak savanna. The ravine between these two units is narrower than it seems on the photo, and the steep sides enhance the aspect effect. Not surprisingly, the vegetation on these two slopes is quite different. Also, they burn differently.


Blogger Jake Lloyd said...

I love this website, it is so informative. The 'aspect' topic is extremely interesting and just adds to the complexity and diversity of a site. Have you ever considered making your management map interactive, so that you could click on a unit and see pictures and flora information? Might be difficult to do, but would explain a lot in terms of the effect that 'aspect' has on the plants that grow there (including trees). Thanks for your blog!

March 18, 2011 at 8:01 AM  

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