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Capstone Projects

Challenges Associated with Conservation Easements In the Adirondack Park and Recommendations for Improving the Process

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 13:11
Abstract: With conservation easements only becoming popular in the past 40 years, they are at the developmental stage where weaknesses start to become apparent as land starts to change hands from one generation to the next. It is important to find and correct these barriers to ensure these same problems do not occur in the next 40 years. My focus was performing research within the Adirondack State Park of New York. I utilized Semi-Structured Interviews (SSI) along with SSI guides to collect my data while using a sampling technique referred to as a snowball sampling approach. I interviewed two different categories of conservation easement personal. 1. Land owner/manager with conservation easement on property 2.Agency Workers from The Nature Conservancy and the New York State Department of Environmental. I then used emergent themes to reveal the discrepancies or weaknesses in current conservation easements along with their common strengths. From there I used (S.W.O.T) Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analysis to provide recommendations for policy revising.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Capstone Final Draft.docx
Authors: Timothy Kempf

Python Scripting an ArcGIS Add-in for Wildlife Telemetry Data Processing

Mon, 04/28/2014 - 15:46
Abstract: There are currently no modern open source alternatives to commercial radio telemetry processing software. I developed a python add-in for ArcGIS which allows for interactive editing of telemetry data. The add-in was tested for functionality, accuracy and usability. Functionality was tested according to how closely it adhered to the original software requirements specification. Accuracy was tested by generating telemetry data from known animal locations and comparing the estimated locations to the actual locations. Usability was tested through speak aloud user tests. User data was collected on completion status, time of completion, and number usability issues found. The intended functionality goals were met and exceeded. Accuracy was less than expected with an average inaccuracy distance of 202 meters and approximately 10% of the bearing groups were unable to generate a centroid. During user testing, a total of 33 usability issues were discovered that hindered use of the software and on average it took a student 18 minutes to process one data set without prior exposure to the add-in. Qualitative observations from the user tests could be a launching point for GIS usability studies. In addition, the core modules could be modified and expanded into a separate application with dependency on Quantum-GIS or Geographic Analysis Support System (GRASS).
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2014
File Attachments: Kacir_2014.docx
Authors: Robert Kacir

Is Green Construction Economically Feasible

Fri, 05/09/2014 - 14:12
Abstract: Green construction is a valuable part of our developing world. Building green will help reduce the negative effects of pollution in our atmosphere. It will also help reduce electrical uses throughout the household and allow you to have a reduction in costs to paying electrical bills. Too many, this process is considered to be expensive to build this way. Products that green homes are made of are considered to be expensive. The materials for energy production are also considered expensive. Too address this, a survey was conducted to see the views of individuals and what they believe it costs to have a green home. The survey also asked if people would consider having a green home if they had the option. It is proven having a green home will reduce the costs of a home eventually leading to paying nothing for maintaining a house called a payback period. To build green will mean to pay less over time and maybe eventually lead to getting paid. There are also many government incentives for building green. The government can invest in this building so you may afford a green building. It is well advised to be educated in all aspects of building green such as the tax incentives, payback periods, environmental effects, and how to approach this.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2014
File Attachments: final Capstone Draft.docx
Authors: Daniel Hourihan, Zachary Mein

Soil and Vegetation Characteristics of High Elevation Wetlands in the Adirondack Park

Mon, 12/03/2012 - 17:14
Abstract: Wetland ecosystems are finally being understood for their true importance. Wetlands in the past were misunderstood and thought to be disease carrying burdens on our way of life; however this mentality changed during the mid-19thcentury. These ecosystems are important for biodiversity and act as natural water purification systems. This study was undertaken to help understand, the high elevation wetland characteristics. Our goals were to analyze the soils and describe the vegetation in high elevation wetlands. The soil and vegetative surveys helped define the characteristics of these ecosystems and create a better understanding of them. The combination of vegetation species that are wetland indicators were found in each site, the soil pH, and nutrients show that each site had signs of being a wetland community.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Sciences, Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: FINAL Capstone Report.doc
Authors: Brandon Ploss, Sean Ayotte

A MULTI-SCALE EVALUATION OF THE EFFECTS OF FOREST HARVESTING FOR WOODY BIOFUELS ON MAMMALIAN COMMUNITIES IN A NORTHERN HARDWOOD FOREST

Fri, 02/01/2013 - 16:19
Abstract: Forest harvesting and subsequent effects on forest structure have been shown to influence mammalian community assemblages and the abundance of individual species, however less attention has been paid to the implications of how harvested timber is used. This is particularly relevant in the Northern Forest, where a considerable portion of the forest harvesting is used to produce biofuels. Biofuels harvesting typically involves the process of whole-tree chipping which may lead to a dramatic reduction in the amount of woody material in the form of slash and coarse woody debris (CWD) left in harvested stands. The goal of our study was to assess the effects of biofuels harvesting on forest structure and subsequent effects on mammalian community structure and abundance. To address this goal, we focused on a ~35 Ha area of partially-harvested northern hardwood forest in the northern Adirondacks, New York. To sample mammals we used a combination of Sherman traps and track plates established at two scales across stands within this area. Our results showed that the response of small mammals to changes in forest structure is both species and scale specific. At the individual trap scale, CWD, slash, and understory cover were important drivers of the occurrence of individual species of small mammals. At the larger “grid” scale, small mammal relative abundance was driven by canopy cover and the density of woody stems. Our results indicate that the current harvesting practices used for biofuel production in the Adirondacks are unlikely to result in declines in abundance of common small mammal species. However, the retention of some slash post-harvest may be beneficial to some species, thus foresters may want to include slash retention when developing silvicultural prescriptions.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Environmental Sciences, Fisheries and Wildlife Science, Natural Resources Management and Policy
Year: 2012
Authors: Cody Laxton, Alisha Benack, Danielle Ball, Scott Collins, Sam Forlenza, Richard Franke, Stephanie Korzec, Alec Judge, Connor Langevin, Jonathan Vimislik, Elena Zito

Vegetation colonization of a large sediment deposit from Tropical Storm Irene and the trajectory of the ecosystem

Sun, 12/02/2012 - 20:06
Abstract: Rivers, floodplains and riparian zones are important pieces of all landscapes. Humans have always had a close connection with these ecosystems but commonly that connection has led to anthropogenic disturbance of the natural system. There are very few undisturbed rivers, floodplains, and riparian zones left in the temperate biome. A better understanding of how disturbance, humans, and invasive plants are interacting with reference to rivers, floodplains and riparian zones may help with protection of these sensitive areas. This study analyzed the vegetation which was left and which colonized a large sediment deposit from Tropical Storm Irene, August 28, 2011. The understory vegetation was assessed in four 1 m2 plots based on stem count and percent foliar cover 319, 349 and 394 days after the tropical storm. Overstory trees were also inventoried in order to identify species and make connections between the overstory and new understory. Invasive species accounted for 16.1% of all stems found from day 319 to day 394. There were 5 invasive species found within the plots (garlic mustard, honeysuckle, Japanese knotweed, goutweed, chervil). Garlic mustard and Japanese knotweed increased in foliar cover from day 319 to 394 and may have retarded the growth of native plants and seedlings. Only 9.4% of all stems were found to be tree seedlings. The invasive plants which are colonizing fluvial deposits may be altering the structure and succession of floodplain forests and riparian zones. This invasive plant-covered deposit now provides a seed source for areas downstream as well as prevents native vegetation from growing on the site.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Capstone Paper.docx
Authors: Hannah Wahlstrom

Forces at Work: An Interpretive Management Plan for Fernow Forest Nature Trail

Mon, 12/03/2012 - 12:23
Abstract: Fernow Forest Nature Trail in the town of Tupper Lake, Franklin County, New York, is a recreation facility with great educational value to tourists and the local community. The cultural and natural resources of the site have been underutilized by the outdated Self-Guided Nature Trail brochure and insufficient signage. A survey was conducted at the trail to obtain pertinent data on visitor preferences regarding popular landmarks along the trail and types of interpretive programming. Recognizing that a greater impact on visitors could be made if interpretation at the site was improved, a thematic interpretive management plan for the Self-guided Nature Trail was developed. The new program, “Forces at Work,” consisted of a revised brochure, a complete map of the trail and amenities, and recommendations for the successful implementation of the new program including the utilization of an on-site interpreter. Future care of the trail was entrusted to Paul Smith’s College’s Forestry Club under the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Adopt-A-Natural Resource program.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2012
Authors: Lawrence Montague

Influence of Stand Density and Species Proportion on the Productivity of Planted Forests

Mon, 12/03/2012 - 13:24
Abstract: This study examines the influence of stand density and species proportion in mixed species forest plantations through the Forest Vegetation Simulator (FVS), forest growth modeling software. It is hypothesized that a mixed-species stand will be more productive than any monoculture of the same density due to some compatibility between the two chosen species. Trees were “planted” in 5 different densities; 460, 540, 660, 860, and 1100 trees per acre. The ratios of eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) and eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) were then altered using substitutive plot designs and grown for 100 years. The most productive stand was established as a mixed-species plantation with a white pine:eastern hemlock ratio of 60:40. This stand was established with 1100 trees per acre; 660 white pine and 440 eastern hemlock. This translates to 39.6 square feet per tree, or a grid size of about 6.29’x6.29’. This stand, after 100 years of simulated growth, was 1.0038 times more productive than highest producing monoculture of the same density. Although the hypothesis was accepted, the most productive mixed-species stand developed into a white pine monoculture after 100 years of simulation.
Access: No
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: The Author has selected not to publish this complete work.
Authors: Tyler J. Dallas

A stewardship plan for the Temple, New Hampshire Town Forest property based on multiple-use values derived from focus group research

Tue, 12/04/2012 - 12:37
Abstract: Open space and un-fragmented land constitutes a valuable community asset. In the town of Temple, New Hampshire, residents enjoy a sense of community and a rich agricultural history. Outdoor recreation is a popular activity for many residents. A hidden gem, the Temple Town Forest property, is open to the public for recreational foot traffic use, but it is not being actively utilized. The property is managed by the Temple Conservation Commission. To aid the Commission, a stewardship plan was created from focus group research with three overarching goals of forest health, increased recreational opportunities and ways the public can participate in forest management. The end result is the promotion of a managed working forest the public can appreciate. The plan provides a forest health inventory, examines recreational usage and a timber cruise identified potential trees that could be harvested. Suggestions were stated on how the public can assist in management for the Town Forest like, forming a specialized town forest committee and supporting local maple sugaring.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Final Draft Capstone.docx
Authors: Eric W. Foley

Silviculture Prescription and Regeneration Analysis: An Investigation of the Creighton Compartment of the Paul Smith’s College Forest Management Plan

Wed, 12/05/2012 - 10:31
Abstract: Paul Smith’s College, being an environmental college, has a unique opportunity to explore the newest research to find the best methods of silviculture treatments to meet regeneration goals while sustaining forest structure. This study investigated the Creighton Compartment of the PSC forest management plan specifically examining the silviculture prescriptions and regeneration. Seedling and sapling regeneration data was compared with the management plan to determine whether regeneration goals were met. Overall, the hardwood stands were regenerating in vast amounts of undesired American beech (Fagus grandifolia) and not meeting the preferred goal of red maple (Acer rubrum), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), black cherry (Prunus serotina) and yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis). The softwood stands were regenerating in vast amounts of undesired balsam fir (Abies balsamea) and not meeting the preferred goal of eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) and red spruce (Picea rubens). Based on extensive research, it has been determined that a variable sized group selection harvest was the best solution to regenerate the preferred hardwoods and a two-cut shelterwood system with at least 40 percent light scarification should be conducted to favor regeneration of preferred softwoods.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2012
File Attachments: Day_Final_Capstone.pdf
Authors: Nicholas Day