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Capstone Projects

Citizen Science: A Tool for Better Preserving Backcountry Infrastructure at Paul Smith’s College.

Mon, 05/02/2022 - 22:34
Abstract: The Adirondacks have been home to a many steward of its land. Paul Smith’s College prides itself in encouraging a culture which promotes this long-held ideology to preserve natural resources. It is a school which prides itself in its unique location as well as resources. One of these many resources is its extensive backcountry property and the plethora of structures located within it. Many of these structures are what’s known as lean-tos. Over the course of the 2022 Spring semester, the Parks and Recreation Capstone class surveyed and identified the conditions of 15/16 the school’s remaining lean-tos. A particularly outstanding issue with this however, was the resources and organization required of the school to collect this data. This research paper examines the positive values that the implementation of citizen science programs has had on a national level. Furthermore, my individual contribution to this class’s Capstone was the implementation of a volunteer fed databank exclusively used for the documenting of lean-tos in the Paul Smith’s College backcountry. The scope and intent of this project was to pass this resource on for further development and active use by Paul Smith’s College, related committees, and its backcountry maintenance initiatives.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism, Recreation, Adventure Education and Leisure Management, Parks, Recreation and Facilities Management, Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2022
Authors: Matthew T. Huffman

Forest Health Assessment: Kate Mountain Farm

Fri, 07/08/2022 - 11:17
Abstract: Disturbances that degrade forested ecosystems can have significant impacts on forest health. These impacts should be of great concern for forest landowners. Natural disturbances such as insect and disease agents, and human caused disturbances such as logging, soil compaction, and pollution can have substantial economic and environmental impacts. It is of great importance for landowners to be given the right knowledge and tools to deal with these disturbances in order to avoid any large-scale losses of timber productivity, degraded water yields, depleted nutrient cycling, and/or decreased biodiversity. Forestland can provide many harvestable natural resources and ecosystem services for very long periods of time if they are managed sustainably and responsibly. This of course entails a forest being composed of healthy thriving trees.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Biology, Environmental Sciences, Forestry
Year: 2021
Authors: Matthew R. Wedge, Erin Reilly

An Analysis of Invertebrate Richness with Designated Pollinator-Plots on Paul Smith's College Campus

Thu, 07/07/2022 - 15:35
Abstract: Anthropogenic grasslands, areas which have been manipulated by humanity to be species homogenous and are composed primarily of turf-grass species, have been a key fixture in the American landscape for over a hundred years, but little is known about the ecological impacts of these lawn-scapes. Paul Smith’s College has established meadow restoration zones, also referred to as “Pollinator Plots”, in areas that were previously anthropogenic grasslands to collect data regarding various components of meadow restoration and to document successional changes within the sites over several years. This study is the first assessment of invertebrate assemblages within these pollinator plots. Invertebrate assemblages were examined in two meadow restoration groups which include dry-slope plots and moist flat plots. Reference meadows, meadows that have been established for several years and have not been anthropogenically disturbed, were used as a baseline to which the other meadow groups were compared to. Specimens were collected using sweep nets and pitfall traps. Invertebrates were counted and identified to the lowest taxonomic level. Invertebrate richness was highest in reference sites, which are well-established meadows, and moist-flat locations whereas dry-slope locations had the least overall invertebrate richness. The restoration plots had lower invertebrate richness and abundance overall, however, the differences were not large enough to be statistically significant. The data obtained from this assessment is a baseline that can be compared to in future studies in these plots throughout time. Keywords Invertebrate - Pollinators - Grasslands - Lawns - Meadow – Restoration
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Ecological Restoration
Year: 2021
Authors: Savannah Hoy

Kate Mountain Farm Inventory Report and Prescription Recommendations

Mon, 07/11/2022 - 15:42
Abstract: This document outlines the results of the 2021 inventory of Kate Mountain Farm in Loon Lake, New York, and provides detailed prescription and recommendation based of the data collected.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2021
Authors: Jonathan Seiter, Timothy Sawitsky

Transitioning Forested Land Into Blueberry Fields at Kate Mountain Farm

Mon, 07/11/2022 - 15:47
Abstract: Historically the Adirondacks have had the reputation of being a poor site for most agricultural practices, with few crops taking well to the sandy soils and short growing season. One of the most well know exceptions to this trend are the fields of blueberries that can be found scattered throughout the region. Both naturally occurring and cultivated by man, blueberries are a great crop for landowners looking to grow fruit on otherwise unproductive soils. This report will outline the process to implement and manage blueberry fields at Kate Mountain Farm, as well as discuss important impacts and factors that come with managing a blueberry crop.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2021
Authors: Austin Quaile

Maple Sugaring at Kate Mountain Farm

Mon, 07/11/2022 - 16:22
Abstract: Kate Mountain Farm is a large property that capitalized on many non-timber forest products, and small-scale business opportunities. Maple sugaring was a natural addition to the property, growing the multi-use aspect of the farm. The goal at the end of this project is to hand off a small-scale demonstration sugarbush to the landowner. The first season was successful, and the future of the sugarbush is promising.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2021
Authors: Katharyn Snyder

Hayner Tree Farm Forest Management Plan

Mon, 07/11/2022 - 15:55
Abstract: There are four main benefits to having a property ATFS certified: tools and resources, public recognition, certification of forest products as sustainable, and a positive future for the forest. This Forestry capstone project developed by Jim Hayner and Jacob Craver consists of a Forest Management Plan written in line with the management plan template of the American Tree Farm System (ATFS).
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2021
Authors: James Hayner, Jacob Craver

A Study of Wood Processes and Yield at Kate Mountain Farm

Mon, 07/11/2022 - 16:02
Abstract: The production of lumber is being traced throughout the process, from standing timber, to logs to boards. This is to trace how much volume and board feet is gained or lost throughout the process. The goal of the woodlot owner is to identify how they can maximize production at the woodlot level. The tracing of numbers throughout this process will serve as a model and example of potential production losses or gains throughout the process.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Forestry
Year: 2021
Authors: Matthew Arena

The Lower St. Regis Lake Shoreline: Understanding the Past, Analyzing the Present, and Recommendations for the Future

Sat, 05/09/2020 - 11:54
Abstract: Continuing shoreline research and restoration planning will help Paul Smith’s College adhere to their own missions and visions including experiential learning, improving students' lives, and maintaining an ecological conscience as a community.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Ecological Restoration, Environmental Sciences
Year: 2020
Authors: Zoe Plant, Thomas Firkins, Julie Capito, and Benjamin Marshall

The Influence of Microtopography on the Spatial Distribution of Peatland Plants

Mon, 04/27/2020 - 13:01
Abstract: Microtopography in peatlands creates structural patterns within the environment that, if understood, could allow for more comprehensive wetland management and restoration plans to be constructed. The objectives of this study are to determine: 1) the spatial scale at which microtopography occurs on in Adirondack peatlands; 2) if hummock size changes in relation to the distance from the forested wetland edge; and 3) if individual plant species respond to, or vary, in relation to microtopography and abiotic factors. To determine the influence of microtopography on peatland plants, data were collected on the surface area and height distributions of hummocks, the distance between hummocks and the abiotic soil characteristics. Plant species richness, and percent cover data were collected on hummocks only. The spatial scale of microtopography was determined to be regularly distributed across the sampling area. There was no significant correlation between the distance from the coniferous-edge and the relative size of hummocks. Plant species richness was found to be higher on hummocks as opposed to hollows. Using a combination of correlation and multiple regression analysis we determined that leather leaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), and common cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpa) were correlated to individual abiotic variables. The variability of the percent cover of leather leaf was explained by increasing surface area, lower soil temperatures, and lower pH; the variability of the percent cover of lowbush blueberry was explained by increasing oxidation-reduction potential (ORP) and lower pH; and the variability of the percent cover of common cranberry was explained by lower hummock height alone. Only three of the common plants identified were correlated with the abiotic variables measured. Further research should be done to continue to determine the primary influence of the elevational gradients on the plant species composition and to determine the resilience of these systems to changing climate.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Ecological Restoration
Year: 2020
Authors: Joshua T. Young