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Capstone Projects

The Potential Distribution of Invasive Species Parallel to Climate Change at the Paul Smiths College Visitor Interpretive Center

Wed, 05/06/2015 - 13:17
Abstract: Human civilizations have been contributing to global climate change for as long as they have been altering the landscape. Whether it be from deforestation, to the release of carbon dioxide, we have been continually causing a greenhouse effect in the atmosphere. Due to warming temperatures, climate conditions have become more variable in the recent decades. A change of variability in the climate, also means a change in species distribution. As temperatures fluctuate in the Adirondack Park we may begin to see an increase in invasive plant species. Many invasive plant species have the ability to outperform native plants in regards to changing climates and eventually take over an area. The purpose of this study is to determine which plant species are most likely to make their way into the Paul Smiths College Visitor Interpretive Center, parallel to climate change, and what may be done to prevent or mitigate this new, potential alteration to the landscape.
Access: No
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Studies
Year: 2015
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Heather Reilly

Predicting the amount of usable lumber contained in American beech (Fagus grandifolia) logs infected with beech bark disease based on exterior defects.

Wed, 12/02/2015 - 10:09
Abstract: Beech Bark disease has had many effects on the hardwood forests of the northeastern United States. Many studies have been done in regards to the changes caused by the disease affecting the ecology, species composition of the forest, abundance of American beech (Fagus grandifolia), and physiology of individual trees. However, American beech is a dense, strong species that machines and bends well, and has uses in the form of flooring, handles, and some furniture. This study examines how the severity of beech bark disease affects the amount of usable lumber that can be recovered from American beech sawlogs. To do this, American beech sawlogs with varying degrees of beech bark disease infection were harvested, bucked and scaled. These logs were rated according to their degree of beech bark disease infection based on exterior defects such as raised or sunken cankers, fissures and evidence of scale insect. These logs were then sawn into lumber form and rescaled to find a percentage of usable lumber that resulted from the gross scale taken prior to sawing. There was not a definitive relationship between degree of infection, and lumber yield. This study will be useful to the stakeholders of the lumber industry to aid in predicting whether or not a log infected with beech bark disease can be economically used for lumber.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2015
Authors: Alex Cote, Zachary Smith

Vermont Maple Forest Products LLC. Forest Management and Business Plan

Wed, 12/02/2015 - 17:52
Abstract: Maple syrup production is an extremely important aspect of the American economy in the northeast, generating around 132 million dollars in revenue annually across its U.S production range (United States Department of Agriculture, 2014). At the current rate of production U.S producers are presently only tapping 0.4% of the maples which may be available (Farrell & Chabot, 2012). Vermont has the greatest number of its trees tapped, with 2.94% of available trees currently in production. The low percentage of tappable maple trees in production has been seen as a short coming in the industry. However, this does create the possibility for entry into the industry. Vermont Maple Forest Products LLC is in current maple production and desires to produce on an industrial scale. Simon Boulet and Claude Deschenes (2005) found that the highest degrees of profit are generated when a producer is considered a medium(5,000-19,000 taps)-large (>19,000 taps) supplier. At this point costs per tap are reduced and sap yeilds increase. Vermont Maple Forest Products currently has the land available for potentially over 28,000 taps. To achieve this goal a business plan and forest management plan was developed and will be implemented across the tract with the goal of maple syrup production.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2015
Authors: Adam D Allen

Investigating Amount of Sample Points Necessary for Accurate Topographic Representation of the Ground Truth

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 18:18
Abstract: Topographic or elevation data has many uses and applications especially when it is converted into a Digital Elevation Model (DEM). Such uses are erosion modeling, surface hydrology, watershed modelling geomorphology, land-sliding, agriculture and ecosystem modeling to list a few examples. This project intends to determine the amount of topographic data points that need to be collected in order to create an accurate model of the ground topography. To accomplish the objective, a topographic survey was conducted on a grid pattern, with a spacing of 7.5 feet between points regularly spaced over one acre. After the data were collected, varying percentages of the total amount of points collected were removed and the resulting digital elevation model (DEM) was compared to the ground truth DEM. When comparing accuracy of interpolated elevation across the entire DEM with a RMSE (root mean square error) it was found that using a subset of 25-30% of the entire data set were needed to create a model that did not significantly differ from the Ground Truth. The change in volume of the elevation surface compared to the Ground Truth results in a linear relationship, as more points are added the closed the change in volume is to zero. The P value derived from the T-test of the mean elevations of the trial DEM’s and the Ground truth, reflect the results from the change in volume, as more points are added the closer to the truth the DEM becomes.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Final_Report_RGM.docx
Authors: Ryan McGowan

Implementing an Educational Demonstration Forest with Working Elements of Silviculture, Wildlife, Recreation, and Water in Harrietstown, Adirondack, NY

Tue, 05/05/2015 - 11:15
Abstract: The project being conducted will provide rationale about the importance of working forestry, all while maintaining positive public sentiment within the forest products industry. The project will focus on public education and maintain water quality, wildlife habitat, and recreational opportunities. The public will see developed interpretive areas with signage at points of interest. The designated area is located near the Adirondack Regional Airport, Hunt Road and NYS Route 30, and is comprised of 226 acres. There are varying stands in the tract that range from pure softwood, hardwood and mixed wood stands. After the designated area was selected, a timber cruise was conducted along with note taking and visual analysis of how the area could entice public use and education. Once all the data was gathered, the conclusion drawn was throughout all different forests types in the tract, there were multiple educational opportunities pertaining to water quality and wildlife habitat through use of sustainable forestry methods. The significance of this project is to facilitate public education on how forestry can be sustainable and beneficial. This will be shown through workshops, kiosks, interpretive walks and a menagerie of other proposed ideas.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Capstone_LIB_Upload.docx
Authors: Jeffrey Bigelow, Raymond Desilva, William Lehning, Llewellyn Palmer, Bennett Lohmeyer, Corey Bulson

Downtown Saranac Lake Urban Forest Management Plan

Thu, 05/07/2015 - 16:47
Abstract: Trees and green spaces are important resources to any community. They are public spaces which provide havens of relaxation, play, and mental and physical stimulation. Trees and green spaces have been proven to have a positive impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of area residents. However, the care of these trees and green spaces is often overlooked or not planned for, leading to human/nature conflicts at a fine scale (local level). This is where arborists enter; arborists are individuals trained in the art of caring for trees, and are often involved in every stage of a tree’s life cycle, from planting to removal. But arborists are also teachers, acting as the intermediary between urban trees and the public and providing education to the people. The village of Saranac Lake, New York, is no different. The results of the data collected on Saranac Lake’s downtown street trees and parks were analyzed and compiled into a comprehensive urban tree management plan. A total of 236 trees and shrubs were inventoried and assessed for their health, overall condition, and pruning needs. Also included in the urban tree management plan are observations on the current state of the urban forest, recommendations for the mitigation and correction of any observable problems, and prevention and treatment courses of action for any future insect pests.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry, Parks, Recreation and Facilities Management
Year: 2015
Authors: Michael O'Sullivan, Danielle Rageotte

Environmental Values Represented in Successful Green Building; LEED vs. Passive House

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 12:02
Abstract: In a society struggling to synchronize human development with environmental quality, the construction sector is often the target of sustainability initiatives. The purpose of this research is to investigate the environmental values and themes that influenced the design process of two successful green building projects. The two buildings at the focus of the study are new residential construction in the state of Maine; one with LEED Platinum certification and one with Passive House certification. Both buildings were found to exemplify themes of energy performance, practicality, and bioregionalism and included a collaborative design effort. A better understanding of these themes and values that guided these project teams to construct paradigm-shifting structures can help form a model for mainstream applications of a sustainable built environment.
Access: No
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Studies
Year: 2014
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Heather Coleates

Forest Succession's Effect on Soil Physical and Chemical Properties after Agriculture Abandonment

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 11:00
Abstract: Landscapes have been significantly altered by humans and replacing forests with agricultural crops is a major alteration humans have made. This landscape change has affected soils significantly. Agriculture practices can potentially have detrimental effects on soils. However, through the 20th century forest cover drastically increased in the United States through the recruitment of second growth forests as a result of agriculture abandonment. Forests reclaiming farm lands through forest succession can have a significant effect on recoveries in soil physical and chemical properties such as bulk density, soil strength, porosity and fertility. Therefore, the goal of this study was to investigate forest successions effect on soil physical and chemical properties after agriculture abandonment. Three specific hypotheses were tested: 1) Bulk density and soil strength will decrease while micro and macro porosity will increase as forests reclaim farm lands. 2) Soil carbon and available nitrogen will increase over time. 3) Soil pH will decrease and electrical conductivity will increase over time. These hypotheses were explored on abandoned agriculture fields in a chronosequence study on coarse loamy Inceptisols in upstate New York across a 60 year temporal scale. Data showed that total porosity, total carbon and available nitrogen increase while soil pH, bulk density, soil strength and electrical conductivity decline over time. These results support all three hypotheses except for the latter half of hypothesis number three. The findings of this study suggest that although agriculture may disturb soil properties, time coupled with forest succession can result in significant recoveries.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Final Report.docx
Authors: Nathan Piché

Alpine Ecosystems on Ski Area Summits in the Northeast: A Best Management Practices Manual

Mon, 12/01/2014 - 15:19
Abstract: Over the past half a century, anthropogenic climate change has triggered temperatures in the northeastern United States to rise. This increase has led to decreased winter precipitation and a longer annual growing season. Species found in upland/montane habitats on the southern edge of their range limits are particularly threatened by these changes. Warmer temperatures have allowed larger woody plants to advance up mountain slopes, entering the habitat of these fragile species. In the next decade, we will witness a complete disappearance of alpine flora from several locations across the northeast including Whiteface in New York, Sugarloaf in Maine and Mount Mansfield in Vermont. Managers of ski resorts can therefore play an important role in promoting the continued persistence of high-altitude flora and fauna through carefully considered management decisions can also serve to promote the reputation of the ski industry as stewards of mountaintop ecosystems. Doing so will allow for continued study of the species that exist within these communities, the protection of biodiversity, and increased revenue for the resort itself through elevated public image and mountain-top tourism. To help begin these conservation efforts, we have created a best management practice (BMP) manual to guide ski area managers in making these developments. It includes techniques for sustainable slope, soil, vegetation and wildlife management, erosion control, artificial snow production, and ski slope construction and design. Also included are marketing techniques and an overview of the economic viability of the practices outlined in this manual.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2014
Authors: Pali Gelsomini, Dylan Randall

A Forest Management Plan For Lynn Woods Reservation

Sun, 04/27/2014 - 18:49
Abstract: Lynn Woods Reservation located in Lynn, MA (42°29' N, 70°59’ W) is a 2,200 acre municipal park under the joint management of the Lynn Parks Department and the Lynn Water and Sewer Department. Since 1881, there has been little management on the lands of the reservation. This project developed a forest management plan for the Reservation. A forest inventory took place in January 2014 utilizing SilviaTerra’s Plothound data collection app. Data was then processed in NED-2 and ArcGIS to create final data used in the creation of this plan. The tract was divided into three compartments based on location and access. Multiple stands are inaccessible or do not contain merchantable timber but most of this tract is harvestable. Based on the data collected, suggested silvicultural prescriptions were developed along with other management suggestions for the tract. This plan was submitted to the park ranger, Dan Smalls, for review and final implementation.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2014
File Attachments: St_John_Final_Draft.pdf
Authors: M. Dalton St. John