I’m not sure were where the fall went, but an eventful one it was indeed. With the lifting of the previous Covid-related restrictions, we were able to get back to a full slate of research, teaching and public events after two years mired in a touch-and-go operational mode. Classes such as Ecology (Allison Gill) and Conservation Biology (Joan Edwards) spent many afternoons out in the forest — whether to tag grasshoppers, collect aquatic insects, count goldenrod stems or survey invasive species. And on October weekends, teams of student researches could be seen in the field helping Prof. Edwards sample the myriad plots of fall wildflowers, which comprise her study of the effects of different mowing regimes on meadow biodiversity and pollinators.
The educators were busy as well. With the support of the Center for Learning in Action, seven students were employed as “educators” — helping to plan and lead eight field trips for elementary school classes from our region. The oft-postponed final trip was met with little blast of winter but, by-and-large, the kids managed to keep warm and engaged.
Caretaking remained popular; after some rather tedious drainage work in early autumn, student workers were able to venture farther afield to the New York parcel for some boundary posting. Evidently, the ridge-top views and adventure made hauling the ladder and packs of signs through the beech coppice all the more worthwhile.
The caretakers, were instrumental in hosting a highly successful fall festival this year. The pleasant mid-October conditions and the whiff of fresh cider in the air attracted an unprecedented crowd (exceeding 600) from the campus and greater community. Among the most popular activities were the cross cut saw, shake splitting and “hammerschlagen” and, of course, Cat’s fresh brewed apple butter spread on baguettes from A-Frame. I think the shuttle driver summed it up best when he said: “I never got a break.”
Late in the season, we waged a race against winter in order to install a Motus (radio telemetry) tower near the Meteorology tower atop the Taconic Crest. Dan Shustack of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts provided the funds and planning that ultimately added the Forest to Motus’ continental network of stations. We did deploy specialists to conduct the installation, which took place on a raw/snowy day in mid-November. Now we will be able to receive real-time data downloads every time a Motus radio-tagged bird, bat or large mammal passes within range (approximately 15 km.) of our tower. This will allow for more comprehensive long term monitoring of these wide ranging animals and their populations.
The season ended with the annual deer hunt, during which 85 registered hunters took 10 whitetail deer from the property. Though the total was high by recent years’ standards, it appears to only partially reflect the robustness of our local deer herd.
Thanks to everyone who helped to make it real. See you in 2023.