Thursday, May 26, 2011

ProRanger Blog Week 2-Amber Hagan and Charles Papacostas-Prince William Forest Park

Our second week at Prince William Forest Park has been very informational and exciting. Charles and I were with Resource Management this week. We started off the week with introductions to the SCA interns and we got a second tour of the park with them. We heard from the Superintendent and all of the division chiefs. We discussed safety protocols, SOP's, JHA's, and job duties. We got an introduction from Paul the chief of resource management, and Colette, the cultural resources manager.

Our second day was very educational. We learned how to use a GPS unit as well as input this into a GIS program on the computer. Paul walked us through each step. GIS and GPS are very useful for parks and other organizations. They contain a tremendous amount of information and store it into an easily read file/map.

Wednesday we received training in how to drive the electrically powered vehicles that the park recently purchased with the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. These vehicles are powered entirely by an electric battery and have a very different feel from a car. The only way you know that the vehicle is on when you put the key into the ignition is by looking for a little glowing green light, as the engine makes no sound. Its top speed is about 25 miles per hour, and the battery lasts for a total of 30 miles before it has to be recharged. As part of the training we each had the chance to drive the vehicle as well. After breaking for lunch, Colette gave a talk on introduction to cultural resources. She told us the basics of cultural resources and its importance to the park and in the National Park Service in general. We got a tour of the collections building where they keep all artifacts found in the park. Later that afternoon, we went on a scavenger hunt with maps and had to find clues hidden throughout the park. The scavenger hunt was not only informative, but also served to help us to better navigate our way through the park.

Today we did more work in cultural resources, but we spent most of the day indoors. We scanned slides onto the computer and logged them in an excel file, we entered books from the library into the computer archive, and we sorted through files and put them in their correct location. Surprisingly, this activity was a lot of fun. After lunch we learned about water quality and chemistry. We took macroinvertebrate samples and E. coli samples from stream sites. The entire group really enjoyed this and learned a lot about stream insects and how they can indicate stream health.

Our second week at the park was completely different from the first, but equally educational and eventful. We are both looking forward to week three; we will be with law enforcement again. Next week we have defensive driving and firefighting training as well. We are excited to see what the rest of the summer internship experience entails.

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