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  1. Vernal Pools

    Feb 25, 2009

    A little something new. For the blog and for me personally. I've not paid all that much attention to the natural world in my life. But since becoming more active in outdoor pursuits I've started making efforts toward learning about my surroundings. The first shock to my system was an experience in North Yarmouth in July of last year. It was impossible to overlook the sheer quantity of wild mushrooms along the trail, and with a little research I found out more about the peak mushroom season, foraging, and the mushroom 'guru' the trail was named after, Sam Ristich.

    An opportunity to continue my growth as a naturalist presented itself midweek last week when my company posted a volunteering opportunity to it's internal web page. It was somewhat vague, mentioning that it was a study on vernal pools, and that the volunteers should be good with a map and comfortable in the woods. What could this possibly lead to? I had to check it out. Turns out several towns in Maine are working with some University of Maine professors and Maine Audubon to research potential vernal pools, either confirming them as such by cataloging the presence of indicator species, or de-listing them so the landowner may use that space for development without stepping on a local habitat. The indicator species are the wood frog (pictured), blue spotted and spotted salamanders, and the very rare fairy shrimp.

    I learned all this at my first training Monday night. The talk was extremely thorough and I feel energized about going into this project. One of the towns participating in the research is only a few miles from home so that's a big plus. I think I will mostly be counting egg sacs. (Really when they pitched it they made it sound more interesting then when I say it.) I'll be required to provide digital photo documentation. Also, one of the organizers said these towns really love GPS data so my Vista HCx should come in handy.

    The next training session is a little ways off but I'll keep you updated as I hear more. I'm just really excited for the opportunity to get out there, get a little dirty, and learn from some of the most qualified people I can learn from. I don't know how often opportunities like this come up, but I would like to work on more projects like this in the future. If you ever have the chance to do so, I highly recommend it. More to come.

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