Sunday, September 29, 2013

Caitlin's Thoughts On the Glacial Park Field Trip

          I only wanted to go on this field trip to be with my friends and not have to go to class that day honestly. Cutting down trees did not seem like my type of fun at all. Little did I know how glad I was that I went when it was all done.
         Upon arrival at Glacial Park, our group of all the AP Biology students at PHS were greeted by a man whose job was to restore the land in the park. He told us about how it took about one hundred years for Glacial Park to become destroyed and how it will take even longer to restore it. He mentioned that because of their hard work, many species have returned back to the area such as badgers. These animals had left when the park was on a decline, but have been able to return in the recent years because of the work put towards restoration.  The last thing he told us was what our tasks for the day were going to be. They did not seem exciting at all. 
        To reach our places of work for the day, our group took about a five minute hike through the park. It was gorgeous. We had to walk up one hill, and at the top you could see for miles and miles. All the plants were green and full of life. The weather was perfect, too. The sun was shining and there was a slight breeze in the air was we walked. My groupmates and I took many pictures on our IPads during the trek. 
        The first part of our work was cutting down evasive species and brush. Types of plants such as honeysuckle that are not native to the area had taken over the land. In an area where the brush had already been cleared, all the grasses were at about waist high level. In the area where we cleared, it started out crazy, overgrown, and very tall. There were random branches and plants all over the place. We had a lot of work ahead. Getting started was the worst part. We had no idea where to start. We soon realized that you just had to go at it with a saw and clippers. Everything was uprooted, cut, or sawed down to allow species native to the area to grow. All of the dead stuff we collected was put into a big stack which we called the 'burn pile'. This massive pile of branches and leaves was going to be burned to rid the area of it. Burning the area may seem like it would kill the stuff still living, but it actually helps it. The native species can actually survive the fires because they are immune to them from the open prairies back in the day. 
       The second part of our work took place in a very open part of the park. Little trees that had already started growing needed to be watered, so we did that. The little trees received a ridiculous amount of water compared to their size, but this would be their on drink of water for the next ten days. Next, we planted acorns similar to how squirrels would do it, but with little shovels. By planting these, we hoped that at least some of them would take root to grow even more trees. Lastly, a couple kids and I sprinkled seeds of prairie grass all over the area where the little trees were. We hoped that eventually the grass will grow and spread it's seeds all over even more of the land. 
View during the walk to our work spot
Watering a tree
        Overall, I thought it was a very fun day. Cutting down the trees was more entertaining and rewarding than planting acorns. I liked how you could instantly see the effect you had on the environment whereas I couldn't even see that day if my acorns took root. I had a great time outside, and am very glad we went.
Adding a branch to the burn pile 

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