Monday, June 29, 2015

SLBE Weeks 3 & 4

     The past two weeks I have had the privilege of shadowing the Maintenance and Natural Resource division of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
     In my week with Maintenance, I was introduced to a multitude of projects that Maintenance is working on in the park. I was also made aware that there is only one person who mows all of the grass in the park and only three people who clean all of the toilet facilities. I will never fail to be impressed with the jobs that these employees do-- a clean park and a clean toilet often can make or break a visitor's experience at the Lakeshore.
Barn made from Cedar bricks on S. Manitou Island
     I spent Tuesday and Wednesday on South Manitou Island where I was able to shadow the island maintenance crew who have the responsibility of powering the entire remote village via solar power and maintaining wells for the village and campground's potable water. The maintenance of their historical structures often has increased obstacles due to their distance from many resources. Still, with the help of volunteers, the historical structures are beautifully maintained regardless of the distance from the mainland.
     On Thursday, I was able to help the carpentry crew in replicating a rotting window frame from one of the historical houses. This was one of my favorite jobs-- it took me back to my years as an art major in the wood shop. I also helped in a barn restoration project in the Port Oneida rural historical district alongside the park's historical architect, where we stripped old window frames and re-glazed them to be put on the exterior of the barn. Inside, another crew replaced the barn's rotting floor boards. Friday, I was able to debrief with the head of Maintenance about budgeting, volunteers, and how projects are funded in the park.

Taking blood from a Piping Plover
     This past week, I shadowed crew leads in the Natural Resource division. On Tuesday, I worked with the Wildlife Crew and was able to GPS deer exclosure plots which were compared to other deer-accessible plots. These comparisons were used to examine what species of plants thrived inside the exclosures without grazing from deer. Wednesday, I was able to go into the field with the Piping Plover crew. The Piping Plover is an endangered shorebird, and 1/3 of the population nests within the boundaries of Sleeping Bear Dunes. I was able to watch researchers from the University of Minnesota take blood from one of the birds to do genetic testing on to determine what geographic area these Plovers had come from.
My first Baby's Breath
     On Thursday, I went out with the Vegetation crew. I shadowed the Baby's Breath crew which looks to control the invasive species. Baby's Breath stabilizes the dune with a very long taproot which creates an environment that many native plants cannot survive in. Native species, such as the threatened Pitcher's thistle, need shifting sands to cover their seeds to germinate new seedlings. The crew uses Integrated Pest Management methods to impact the dunes as little as possible, such as digging up plants, and only uses chemicals such as herbicides when absolutely necessary. It was great to work in a crew like this-- we used every team member to create a line so that we could cover as much ground as possible.
     Friday, I shadowed a campground rove, leaving reminders for campers about proper food storage, in order to ensure that the campers do not attract animals such as raccoon and bears.

These upcoming weeks, I will be shadowing Law Enforcement, and I am very excited
. Until next time!

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