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Capstone Projects

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

Developing a Bird Integrity Index (BII) for Use as an Indicator of Stream Condition in the Northern Adirondack Park

Mon, 04/27/2020 - 12:50
Abstract: The primary goal of this research was to create a Bird Integrity Index (BII) to be used for the ecological integrity analysis of streams and their related riparian zones in the northern Adirondack Park based on frameworks provided by previous research in Oregon. Fifty-eight metrics were tested from avian survey (point count) data along fifteen stream reaches of 0.5km in length. These metrics represented aspects of avian taxonomic richness, dietary preferences, foraging techniques, tolerance or intolerance to human disturbance, and nesting strategies. To evaluate the responsiveness of each metric, they were plotted against an index of stream condition based on sampling of benthic macroinvertebrates according to the outline provided by the stream biomonitoring research unit of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Five of the fifty-eight candidate metrics remained after removing metrics that had an R2 value of less than .2 or were highly correlated. Individual avian metric scores ranged from 0-10 and BII scores were set on a scale of 0-100. While the BII presented here was successful in responding to varying conditions based on disturbance levels (R2= .64), due to multiple unexpected relationships between avian metrics and stream condition, it is proposed that more in-depth and comparative research be completed before an Adirondack specific BII is presented for field usage.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Ecological Restoration
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Jesse Rock Capstone.pdf
Authors: Jesse Rock

Paul Smith's College VIC Concert Venue

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 17:38
Abstract: The addition of a concert venue and camping facility at The Paul Smith’s College VIC will add another layer of community enjoyment. The surrounding area does not have a premier concert venue to provide musical enjoyment for visitors and members of the local community. In the College’s Strategic plan, it specifically mentions wanting to “Improve student success and retention through co-curricular activities focused on mind, body and spirit” In the same section it mentions also wanting to “improve campus utilization and net revenues during January and summer terms”. Implementing a concert venue at the VIC would accomplish both of those goals. We believe that this model fits in the strategic goals that the VIC is aiming to accomplish. Supporting the arts at the VIC will achieve visitor connection to musical arts, and connect visitors to other types of outdoor recreation at the VIC. The Paul Smith’s College mission statement and strategic plan includes ensuring facilities that meet the current and future needs of people, implementing strategies to use campus to support community building, contributing regional economics, and to be recognized as important. Specifically, the VIC’s mission statement is, “To connect outdoor recreation, experiential education, and the arts, naturally”. We believe that the addition of a musical venue of proper scale for the region would satisfy the goals of the VIC and our institution by connecting people to nature in a new way but also giving them a concert venue in an amazing setting. Ideally, they could spend the whole day recreating and then finish the day with a concert or performance of some other type such as comedy. With help from the VIC’s Facility Manager Andy Testo, and the Alumni Campground Coordinator Heather Tuttle we have developed the framework of a feasibility plan for future use of the current facilities as a music venue with a supporting campground facility.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2020
Authors: James Rounds, Dan D'Apice

Addressing Overuse: A Hiker Shuttle in the Adirondacks

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 09:21
Abstract: The increase in visitors to the Adirondack State Park in New York State has led to overcrowding and overuse at many of the most popular hiking trails. A common complaint is that there is not enough parking for trailheads and so visitors park alongside the roads which lead to many safety issues. We propose a hiker shuttle for the Saranac Lake area that would not only alleviate the roadside parking issue but would also give more people a chance to explore trails that they might not have heard of before. A shuttle system will allow for better safety conditions for pedestrians and drivers on the roads as well as control trail traffic to prevent trail degradation.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2020
File Attachments: ~$nal draft.docx
Authors: John Kilgannon, Kaitlyn Dudash

Summer Camp at Osgood

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 07:15
Abstract: Camp Osgood is a look at the potential for an outdoor environmental summer camp to be developed in addition to the current property and function of Osgood farm. Looking at why people are drawn to camps both children and adults alike a summer camp at Osgood Farm could be both beneficial on an individual and community level. We found that a summer camp such as Osgood in the location surrounding Saranac Lake could be very beneficial and leave a lasting positive impact and provide opportunities.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2020
Authors: Sam Drake, James Pierpont

Risk Management in the Front Country Setting

Tue, 05/12/2020 - 09:34
Abstract: This paper is a proposal for a risk management plan for the Adirondack Watershed Institute's Front-Country Steward Program that was created in the summer of 2019. Research as well as interviews, surveys, and personal experiences were used in order to create a baseline for this plan.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2020
Authors: Stephanie Tyski

A Resource Development Plan for incoming REALM and PACM students during Welcome Week at Alumni Campground through the PSC Guide Service

Fri, 05/15/2020 - 18:51
Abstract: For our Capstone, we are focusing on a feasibility and implementation plan regarding the Welcome Week Treks. We are proposing a four day, three night expedition utilizing the Alumni Campground located on Paul Smith’s Campus. The expedition will be called, “An Intro to the Adirondacks”. The Welcome Week treks will be open to the Recreation, Adventure Education, and Leisure Management (REALM) and Parks and Conservation Management (PACM) students and the expeditions will be run by the Paul Smith’s College Guide Service. During this expedition, students will be hiking, paddling, rock climbing, and utilizing the campus challenge course. The Paul Smith's College experience has been the turning point for many when deciding to attend this institution. From the beginning until the end, Paul Smith’s College strives to give the best experiential learning to their students, and give them the best possible learning experience to give their students the brightest future.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Recreation, Adventure Education and Leisure Management, Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2020
Authors: Jessica Heroux, Emily Biccum, Sean Malloy

The influence of a common parent on sap sweetness among open pollinated sugar maple (Acer saccharum Marsh.) offspring

Wed, 05/08/2019 - 15:08
Abstract: Beginning in the 1950s, the United States Forest Service began to look into the ability to predict and control the heritability of sap sweetness in sugar maples (Acer saccharum Marsh.). A search for genetically superior (sweeter) trees was conducted across 6 states, testing 21,000 trees. Only 53 trees were chosen to be parental stock for the “Super Sweet” sugar maple improvement program. These trees, cloned through rooted cuttings and scion wood grafting, were planted in the Grand Isle, VT clonal bank. One of the five progeny tests of open pollinated offspring from the clonal bank was established in Lake Placid, New York. These trees had their first evaluation at age ten. Each tree had its diameter and height measured, as well as its sap sweetness tested. Now, 35 years after planting, the trees were evaluated again. An inventory was conducted with diameter at breast height, tree height, and live crown ratio measurements. Of the 725 trees planted, only 396 trees remain. Only 258 trees were of size and quality to handle a 5/16” tap. Their sap sweetness was measured at multiple times though out the season. Knowing one of the two parents of each tree allowed for the comparison of the sap sweetness of the different common-parent groups. The data collected did not support that the knowledge of only one parent could be used to predicts a tree’s sweetness relative to any other parent’s offspring. The bigger picture progeny evaluations will continue the “Super Sweet” sugar maple improvement program.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Forestry
Year: 2019
Authors: Eric Mance

Proposal for Improvements to Alumni Campground Waterfront

Sat, 12/14/2019 - 15:42
Abstract: The Alumni Campground is full of potential. A front country campground in close proximity to many great wilderness experiences. Some of those experiences can be best reached by water and yet the Alumni Campground waterfront is not much more than a single “No Swimming” sign nailed to a tree. This lack of infrastructure has caused degradation of the shoreline as the user base for water craft does use the campground as a starting point for excursions onto the St. Regis waterways but due to a lack of durable launching sites they have created several eroded and denuded spots along the lakes bank. In order to accommodate the amount of use this asset receives and prevent further degradation this proposal is designed to give the Alumni Campground Committee a sensible set of options for structural improvements designed to suit the user bases needs and protect the valuable waterfront resources.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Parks and Conservation Management
Year: 2019
Authors: Tobias Calzarette