Students in Science Department Chair Laurie Doss’s classes are working with the Eversource Land Trust to study clear cut wood preserves and their impact on forest and habitat health. Eversource Land Trust owns four properties in Connecticut; the largest one, Skiff Mountain Wildlife Management Area, is almost 800 acres and less than a mile from the Marvelwood campus. The goal for these properties is to enhance wildlife habitat, protect endangered plants and animals, ensure forest health, and allow for public recreation. Forester Eric Hansen is working with the Connecticut Department of Environmental and Protection (CT DEEP) to manage the Skiff Mountain Wildlife Management Area.
On a recent visit with Marvelwood students, Eric pointed out patches of mugwort (right) and Japanese stiltgrass, invasive species which they have been working to contain and eradicate. A gate to the property was installed to help protect and preserve the water quality of the wetlands, which were being destroyed by recreational vehicles.
Within the 800 acres is a 24-acre ‘clear cut preserve’, a management plan to enhance the percentage of young forest, increase structural complexity and biodiversity, and diversify forest age. The clear cut was created last winter, when hundreds of trees and other growth was cut and much of it removed from the area. Select high-quality and optimal regrowth species were left standing, including a variety of oaks and hickory. The chestnut oak is particularly important in protecting and rebuilding cerulean warbler populations.
Marvelwood science students are designed independent projects to help Eric and the CT DEEP monitor changes in avian populations over time, as well as plant growth and reforestation. Students will be using a variety of technology and techniques to gather data, including drones, macro and micro photography, GPS, and plant sampling. The collaboration between Marvelwood and Eversource’s Skiff Mountain Wildlife Management Area will continue for the next three to five years