Thursday, August 3, 2017

My First Week in Resource Management

On my second day with Resource Management I worked with the park biologist. While Gettysburg is best known as a battlefield, the park does have plenty of plants and animals that require protection, preservation, and management. We spent the day completing water quality tests in the streams and creeks that run through the park. Water quality testing is important from a conservation perspective since water quality is extremely important for the local ecosystem. We used a digital probe to test the stream for dissolved oxygen, turbidity, PH, temperature, and we measured each streams width and depth. Before we could begin testing, however, we needed to calibrate the probe to ensure its readings were accurate. I helped calibrate the probe by testing its accuracy against chemicals with standardized PH values and comparing its temperature against a second thermometer. While this sounds straightforward, the process was actually somewhat complex, with the probe being triple rinsed between each test. 
Calibrating the probe's sensors

Once the probe was properly calibrated, we drove and hiked to several different streams and collected our measurements.While I was out, I also learned about some of the local plants and animals, and how they were cataloged and managed.
Measuring and recording water quality in the Park

On my third day, I worked with the park's forester and resource manager. We talked about the ongoing and past forestry projects within the park, including reforesting and controlled burns. We also investigated damage to the park’s apple orchards by Japanese beetles, an invasive beetle that defoliates the trees. I finished the day with some training on proper pesticide and herbicide handling in preparation for the following week.
One of several orchards in the park
On Thursday, I worked with the Cultural Resource manager. I learned a little bit about the preservation of the historic landscape and what threatens it, including overuse, development, and construction projects. 
Investigating damage to the landscape on Little Round Top. In this case, excessive foot traffic has eroded the soil on the hillside. 
Above all, however, I learned about what it takes to protect these resources to ensure their preservation for future generations. I finished my week with the Chief of Resource Management, and I got to hear more about the managerial and administrative side of resource management. Resource management covers a wide range of fields, and it was interesting to learn how all of that work was coordinated. This week was very important to me, because as a Ranger, I can’t properly protect the park’s resources if I don’t understand their value. 

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