Project Leader: Adam C. Brown Project Dates: 4/12/10 - 8/27/10 E-mail: email@example.com
"This preserve was named in honor of the man who discovered the site's significance as a natural area. Raymond Athey, a self-taught botanist, freely gave of his extensive knowledge to help in the protection of Kentucky's unique natural areas. Initially, 63 acres of land in Logan County were acquired with the assistance of The Nature Conservancy and dedicated October 24, 1990. Additional tracts were dedicated February 20, 1991 and March 11, 1994. Today the 156-acre preserve supports several plant communities with a high diversity of associated species. The barrens are typified by open-grown post (Quercus stellata) and black jack (Quercus marlandica) oaks that dominate the woodland canopy. Glades occur as small openings within the woods. The soils are characteristically thin with bedrock at or near the surface. Several rare species are known from this preserve, including the prairie gentian (Gentiana puberulenta), a wildflower with vibrant deep blue petals. Access is by written permission only." (naturepreserves.ky.gov)
Unlike the National Park the Nature Preserves rarely see visitors and thus exotic invasives are much rarer. This created a much different management style for our team and sparked a lot of great discussions about what the term "invasive" really means.
We began working on Johnson Grass (Sorghum halepense) along the roadside. This grass has become an established invasive on almost every continent in the world. In this area it is very common on roadsides and field edges and so the crew strapped on their backpack sprayers to make some Kentucky "blue" grass of our own.
After knocking back the Johnson Grass we moved on to controlling re-sprouting hardwoods in an area treated this past spring with a prescribed fire. Prescribed fires had been used by the Native Americans in this area long before European’s arrived to provide better access, improve hunting, and to rid the land of undesirable species so they could farm. Today, it is used for many of the same reasons, and in this case is also a means of maintaining a glimpse of the biological history of this area as it was seen by the Native Americans years ago. There are several species that excel at colonizing disturbed areas and pushing forest boundaries into the grasslands. So while sumac, eastern red cedar, and other vigorous hardwoods are native and should not be eliminated altogether; these species are still considered invasive when considering the desired outcome of maintaining native grasslands. Our team assisted the KSNPC in this task by treating these undesired species before they became established.
In the first week of August the team was given a chance to spend two days working with a group from the National Speleological Society during their cave restoration camp here at Mammoth Cave National Park.
Earlier this spring flood waters damaged lights and electrical wires in the lower cave passages. While the lighting and wires had been replaced soon after the flood the old wires and light fixtures remained in place. One of our first tasks was to dig up the disconnected cables, cut them into managable lengths, and pile them for removal from the cave. Then we obscured the new wires and light fixtures from view by burying cables or stacking rocks and debris around them to preserve the natural feel of the cave for future visitors.
Our team also ventured to the lowest passage of the cave where water still flows and is actively carving out the future of Mammoth Cave. These passages were previously the site of underground boat tours until these programs were discontinued. Periodic floods and changes in the rivers course occasionally dislodge pieces of lumber that had formerly been part of the walkways, docks, or boats. We found serveral larger timbers and several bags of smaller wood fragments. We carried these heavy, water-logged pieces of timber through almost two miles of cave passages so they could be removed from the cave.
Working with NSS was a great experience and it gave us a chance to give back to the cave system for all the fun we've had there this summer!
“Dedicated in September 17, 1997, Eastview Barrens State Nature Preserve is 119 acres of grassland and open woodland co-owned by The Nature Conservancy and the Commission. The presence of globally rare species at Eastview Barrens makes protection a critical priority. Numerous rare species, including prairie gentian (Gentiana puberulenta), barrens silky aster (Aster pratensis), frostweed (Helianthemum bicknellii), long-haired hawkweed (Hieracium longipilum), and spikemoss (Selaginella apoda) continue to survive on the fire-maintained grasslands. Due to the sensitivity of the preserve, Eastview Barrens State Nature Preserve is only accessible through guided tours with the Commission of The Nature Conservancy.” (naturepreserves.ky.gov)
The next KSNPC site that we visited was Eastview Barrens SNP where we continued working in much the same fashion as Raymond Athey Barrens. Our focus here has been on controlling re-sprouts in prescribed burn units from this spring. The main priority here again is returning these sites to open woodland and native grasslands.
As a side project we did get to flex our chainsaw muscles for the first time since chainsaw training with the Eastern Plant Management Team. In this case there was a large hickory that had fallen across the access road to the southern prescribed burn unit. Our team took care of it in no time.
My name is Matt Giljahn and I'm addicted. I'm hooked. I need my fix and the SCA's giving it to me this summer. I'm an outdoors-aholic. The outdoors have taken me on countless adventures all over the states from lonely backcountry trails to wild festivals and events. I'm currently double majoring in Environmental Science and Communications at Miami University (Ohio) where I'll graduate in May 2011. I'm excited for this summer in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky to rough up some non-native and invasive species. No prisoners. No exceptions. By the end of the summer I hope to come out with new skills, friendships, stories, and a couple home-style Kentucky recipes!
Sloan's Pond is a popular wayside attraction along the main road running through Mammoth Cave National Park. It is encircled by a boardwalk with several small piers overlooking the pond. Unfortunately, the site's popularity has also brought quite a few invasive exotics into the area. Thus far the crew has removed Multiflora Rose from the areas surrounding the boardwalk. There are still several other invasive species in the area including Japonese Honeysuckle, Non-native Wisteria, and Chinese Yam. Thanks to our team, the Chinese Yam (Dioscorea oppositifolia) found at Sloan's pond became the first documented infestation of its type found within park boundaries. As such we will be returning to treat these populations to prevent further spread.
Rosa multiflora, Dioscorea oppositifolia, Lonicera japonica, Wisteria spp.
Hand tools were used to cut back the Multiflora rose bushes and the stems were then treated with herbicide from hand sprayers. Extra care was taken to avoid using herbicide in close proximity to the pond or wet marshy areas. In some cases the rose bushes were cut without applying herbicide because of their proximity to the water. In other cases our team was unable to reach the rose bushes without trampling very sensitive wet environments and these ares were left alone entirely. The other invasive species were left untreated but the locations of the Chinese Yam populations was documented and reported to the Park Service. We will be working with them closely to develop a control plan for these populations that minimizes environmental impacts to the aquatics communities nearby.
The first project the crew tackled at Mammoth Cave National Park was a daunting 5 acre plot of Ailanthus altissima (Tree-of-Heaven). The site had been treated in previous years but a dense population of Ailanthus had resprouted since then. As seen in the photos below, the Ailanthus had crowded out almost all other tree species from the area and as if that weren't bad enough a dense carpet of Microstegium vimineum (Nepalese Browntop) had formed on the forest floor! We cleared 3.7 acres of Ailanthus before moving on to our next project site. This plot will continue to see attention from the Park Service and volunteer groups to ensure that these species do not continue to spread.
Ailanthus altissima & Microstegium vimineum
Hand tools were used to cut the small Ailanthus trees as close to the ground as possible. Hand sprayers were then used to apply herbicide to the cut stumps to effectively kill the root and prevent further resprouting. The Microstegium was left untreated but large populations were reported to the Park Service for future control.
I grew up on a small farm in New Jersey and spent the majority of my childhood playing in the forest that encircled our house. This is more or less where my love of the outdoors began. I moved to Virginia in 2001 to attend James Madison University. I entered as a declared psychology major and quickly switched my major to geology. In 2004 I left JMU to figure out what I really wanted to do with my life and decided to pursue my passions. I work in a variety of jobs that nurtured my love of the outdoors and in 2006 enrolled at Eastern Mennonite University. Two years later I graduated with a B.A. in Environmental Science. My favorite courses were focused on advanced ecological principles studying the delicate balance of species interacting with one another and their habitat. This, in part, also led to my involvement in several special university projects focused on sustainable design and the ways in which we interact with our own built and manufactured environment.
During my time at EMU I spent one summer working as a SCA Conservation Intern at the Shenandoah National Park. I worked as part of a Botany Crew focused on long-term ecological monitoring and the control of invasive exotics. I had an amazing experience working with the SCA and I'm thrilled for the chance to take on a new project here in Kentucky!
My name is Sarah Huber, daughter of Patricia and Henry Huber, and sister of Craig and Clay Huber. I am a student at the University of Central Florida in Orlando. My major is Environmental Studies and I intend to graduate in the spring of 2011 with a Bachelor of Science. I am originally from the city of Lake Worth in Palm Beach County in South Florida. In Orlando, I work in the Environmental Protection Division of Orange County doing water quality testing in the many lakes in the region. This is my first time being an intern with the SCA and I would definitely come back and do it again. It is a great way to see parts of the country that I am not familiar with and meet many new, really amazing people with goals similar to my own. After I graduate I would like to work for a national park with the NPS, but I do not have a specific job title in mind yet. I would love to still be able to do research within a park, or possibly be a park ranger. I also have another career path in mind of being an animal keeper in a zoo, or going to school for longer and becoming a doctor or a veterinarian. So I joined the SCA partially to figure out if working for the NPS is what I would really like to do, and so far I am really enjoying it. I play intramural indoor and beach volleyball for UCF, and I also participate in the annual mud volleyball tournament on campus. I enjoy art, ceramics, cooking, sports, and the outdoors.
Hello to all, I am Melissa Whistleman, daughter of Margaret Stewart and sister of Jeremy Whistleman. I am currently studying Biochemistry at Radford University in Virginia. Ever since I can remember I have felt a strong connection to the outdoors; camping, hiking, planting, and just wandering through nature. I feel as though the mission of my life is to help; whether that is restoring a national park, repopulating the earth with vegetation, or by learning from and helping others with the daily issues that face us all. I believe that by joining the SCA I will be able to proceed further with helping, learning, and educating individuals as well as the world about conservation and the act of restoring the earth’s natural wonders through hard work and dedication.
My name is Tomoya Paul Lamberson. I was born and raised in Yorktown, Virginia and am currently a senior at the University of Mary Washington majoring in Sociology. I originally joined the SCA to further my experiences in different fields of work outdoors along with opening myself up to different career opportunities. After my experience last summer as a trail maintenance intern I knew I would continue my service with the SCA. This summer, as a native plant corps member I plan on expanding my knowledge on the local invasive and non-invasive plant species along with invasive removal techniques. Other than that I am positive I will have a great experience and form many new friendships.
As a child of the Earth, I feel a sense of belonging to the natural world. Everything that sustains all the diverse species is graciously given to us from the land beneath our feet. Knowing that I wanted nothing more than to be a steward to the Earth, I attend SUNY ESF (State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry), which exposed me to this altruistic organization known as the SCA. This summer, I hope to become immersed in the beauty of this sacred land, through working in the field and by learning from the different agencies involved. I consider myself to be lucky to be working in the wilderness that is Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. Growing up in New York City allowed for a great but extremely refreshing contrast for me this season. My name is Jane Zhu and I hope to improve our world.
The Kentucky Native Plant Corps will be working in the Mammoth Cave National Park and several surrounding state parks and nature preserves. Mammoth Cave National Park is located in the heart of Kentucky’s South-Central karst, an extensive system of subterranean drainage basins covering more than 400 square miles. Atop this labyrinth, lies a biologically diverse ecosystem inextricably interlinked with the ecosystems underground. A unique set of physiographic influences and diverse habitat types led to the area being designated as an International Biosphere Reserve in 1990. The park was also named as a World Heritage Site in 1981.
Mammoth Cave was established as a national park in 1941 but evidence suggests that the earliest human exploration of the cave occurred more than 4000 years ago! These aboriginal explorers probed the depths of the cave for salt and mineral deposits. The true exploration of the caves began in earnest with their rediscovered in the late 18th century. In 1926 only 40 miles of passageway had been mapped. As survey techniques improved many caves, believed to be separate, were found to be connected and today Mammoth Cave is recognized internationally as the longest cave system in the entire world. The cave system, measuring over 350 miles long, is three times longer than any other known cave. Even if the second and third longest caves were connected together Mammoth would still be longer with over a hundred miles to spare!
Aside from this staggering feature, the botanical diversity alone is deserving of international attention. The park, encompassing merely 53,000 surface acres, contains more than 1,300 flowering species; rivaling that of the Great Smoky Mountains in one tenth the acreage. The South-Central region of Kentucky is located in multiple transitional zones. To the west lie open grasslands and drier oak-hickory forests and to the east lie moist mixed mesophytic forests. The climate is also influenced jointly by the warmer sub-tropical regions to the south and the colder climates to the north. Many species found within the park, and its surrounding areas, are at the northern, southern, eastern, and western limits of their natural range. A wide variety of habitats further support differing plant communities. These include: dry upland flats and sandstone-capped ridges, limestone exposed slopes, ravines and karst valleys, broad alluvial bottoms along the Green River, gorge-like hemlock ravines, deep sinks with exposed subterranean streams, old-growth timber, successional growth forests, barrens and savannah habitats, and wetlands, including ponds, forest swamps, springs, seasonal wet woodlands, and cobble bars and banks along the Green River.
Botanical surveys in the park have found 25 species listed as endangered, threatened, or of special concern by Kentucky State Nature Preserves Commission. Mammoth Cave National Park is a vital refuge for the protection of plant communities and individual species in danger. This mosaic of habitats and diversity of forests types and grasslands is, unfortunately, just as attractive to a wide variety of introduced plants. The Student Conservation Association, in close cooperation with the National Park Service and the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, will be working diligently to help monitor and control the spread of these invasive exotic plants. These plants include Japanese honeysuckle, garlic mustard, kudzu, Nepalese browntop, tree-of-heaven, oriental bittersweet, non-native wisterias, and paulownia. These species out-compete native species and, behind habitat destruction, are the single greatest threats to biodiversity.