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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

RAELM and PACM Program Analysis: Does the Online Presence Match the Experience?

Thu, 05/14/2020 - 10:52
Abstract: This is a research-based project that analyzes the Recreation, Adventure Education, and Leisure Management (RAELM) and Parks and Conservation Management (PACM) programs at Paul Smith’s College. The purpose of this research is to determine if there is a gap between the current advertised representation of the RAELM and PACM programs on the official Paul Smith’s College website and social media, and the experiences that current students within these programs have. The research includes an analysis of the programs’ current representation on the Paul Smith’s College website and social media, data collected from interviewing faculty involved in the program and surveying current students, and a literature synthesis of similar research projects and academic curriculums.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism, Recreation, Adventure Education and Leisure Management
Year: 2020
File Attachments: Final Draft.edited.docx
Authors: Rowan McBurney, Will Lord

A Comparison of Winter Wildlife Use of Minimally, Moderately and Highly Impacted Shorelines on Lower St. Regis Lake and Black Pond in the Adirondack Park, NY

Wed, 05/09/2018 - 10:51
Abstract: Continued development and human interference with freshwater shorelines creates a degraded environment and can negatively affect native wildlife along impacted areas. Throughout the Adirondack Park, shorelines have experienced substantial degradation with the development of lakeside summer homes. There tends to be a strong preference for the aesthetics that lakes offer, as well as the numerous recreational opportunities they provide. The increased human use of shorelines and the development of anthropogenic structures has directly resulted in the degradation of shorelines in the Adirondack Park. Likewise, the Paul Smith’s College shoreline along Lower St. Regis Lake has been subjected to degradation throughout the history of the campus. This highly impacted site was selected, alongside minimally and moderately impacted sites in the surrounding areas as representatives for different impact levels. Shoreline degradation includes a decline in the health and presence of natural vegetation, creating a decrease in available food source for native wildlife. The removal of natural vegetation creates a decline in shoreline stability with the removal of root systems, allowing for greater amounts of erosion to occur. Additionally, degradation decreases available canopy cover and increases exposure of wildlife to predation. The objective of this study was to determine the difference in wildlife activity and diversity between three levels of shoreline impacts: minimal, moderate, and high. It was expected that the minimally and moderately impacted shoreline sites would show a greater diversity and abundance of wildlife than highly impacted shorelines. Trail camera data was analyzed at three sites for each treatment on Paul Smith’s College property, along both the Lower St. Regis Lake and Black Pond. Although we detected no significant differences in either activity or diversity across the treatments, there was higher relative activity and diversity in moderately impacted shorelines than minimally or highly impacted. However, wildlife species that are more rare and/or area-sensitive, such as the fisher (Martes pennanti) and American marten (Martes americana), were only detected in the minimally impacted shorelines of Black Pond. A restoration of the highly impacted shoreline to reflect minimally and non-impacted shorelines of the surrounding region would allow for opportunities to improve habitat for native wildlife species.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Biology, Ecological Restoration, Environmental Sciences
Year: 2018
File Attachments: Shoreline Restoration
Authors: Tessa White, Caroline Matuck, Kasey Lane, Rosemary Bloodnick, Kyle Pasanen, Annalee Kraai

Looking Forward at Outdoor Recreational Opportunities at the Paul Smith’s Visitor Interpretive Center

Wed, 05/06/2015 - 10:57
Abstract: The Paul Smiths College Visitor Interpretation Center (VIC) has been a major contributor to the lives of locals and tourists of the Adirondacks. The VIC provides recreational and educational programs for the surrounding area to enjoy and learn from. It is located about a mile down Route 30 from Paul Smith’s College. The purpose of this research is to look deeper into the VIC viewing is past, present and possible future programing with regards to the art, invasive species, climate change, digital media and recreation. Using surveys, interviews, on site visits, previous related capstones and online resources a study has been done looking into the present and past to what the VIC could possibly unfold for future programing. The purpose of this capstone is to do an analysis of the Visitor Interpretation Center (VIC) in regards to recreation. To begin, we looked into the history of recreation in the Adirondacks as a whole to get some background information. We then did research on what recreational pursuits were offered in the past at the VIC, up to present day. Surveys were conducted and personal observations and interviews were done to get information on the current status of outdoor recreation at the VIC. Using information from the past and present, alongside of a needs assessment of the VIC, our project shows what is most desired for future recreational programing at the VIC. This information will be presented to stakeholders of the VIC for past reflections as well as ideas to move forward.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2015
File Attachments: Full Paper.docx
Authors: Nathanial Casaregola, Steven Farrell

Impacts of Maple Syrup Production Programming at the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center

Tue, 04/29/2014 - 12:37
Abstract: Education and interpretation provides strategies and techniques to successfully communicate natural resource and environmental concerns. This research addresses the effectiveness of a community education project at the Paul Smith’s College (PSC) Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) in the Adirondacks of New York State. Educational programs regarding maple syrup production were designed and evaluated to determine their impact on the local community. The objectives were to offer skills education, raise awareness on a local resource, foster a connection to the land, and offer involvement in the VIC’s community maple project. The goal of maple education at the VIC is to educate the community in an attempt to encourage the growth of an underutilized sustainable local resource that community members can become involved in without degradation of Adirondack forests. Determinations were made using a survey questionnaire provided before and after the programs were performed. Based on the data collected the determination made is that the majority of participants that attended ultimately were interested in becoming involved in maple sugaring using to VIC as a gateway for maple sugaring, primarily as a hobby and outdoor activity. This research has aided in the determination that effective programming at the VIC results in encouraging the community to be involved in maple syrup production. With this determination the VIC will continue to perform the designed educational programs as a service to the community.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Integrative Studies, Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2014
Authors: Thomas Manitta

Green Roof Technologies in Adirondack Wilderness Areas

Fri, 04/26/2013 - 11:01
Abstract: Wilderness is qualified by two main characteristics: naturalness and solitude. To enhance these characteristics, many things are excluded from wilderness areas including roads, motorized vehicles and human-made structures of any kind. However some argue there needs to be greater consideration to structures that are a regional legacy and hold considerable historical significance. The Adirondack lean-to is a well-known entity associated with the Adirondack Park but much debate exists over whether or not such structures should be allowed in wilderness areas. The addition of green roofs to lean-tos can possibly mediate the humanness of these structures and produce a three-fold benefit. First, green roofs increase the naturalness of the lean-to. Second, they provide a model for naturalness and sustainability. Third, green roofs on lean-tos provide an additional benefit by lowering, however modestly, the impact of these structures on the natural environment. This qualitative study conducted a series of interviews to examine the feasibility and gauge the receptivity of stakeholders to this idea. Identified themes included the maintenance required to keep up the roofs, the cost and labor of installation and their longevity. Additional themes included the perceived lack of benefits, cultural and historical significance as well as the possibility of green-roofed lean-tos to provide an educational benefit. The data suggest that the benefits associated with green roofs on lean-tos may outweigh the cost of their installation. The naturalness of the green roof on the lean-t may thus offset the “unnaturalness” of the structures themselves to the degree that lean-tos may be perceived as more conforming to wilderness areas. This study concludes that further research is needed into the technical aspects of green roof construction including the amount of maintenance required and the use of wilderness compliant materials. The interest in green-roofed lean-tos appears to exist and with additional technical data it may be possible to take the next step.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2013
Authors: Alison Liedkie

A Study of Adaptive Skiing and Snowboarding Accomodations

Mon, 04/22/2013 - 20:05
Abstract: The purpose of this study was to observe, analyze and numerically evaluate a total of six ski resorts based on their degree of facilitation for people with both physical and cognitive disabilities that wish to participate in adaptive skiing and snowboarding. The outcome of this study was to discover themes that are common among different resorts. This study had a focus on ski resorts located in the Northeast, specifically New York and Vermont. The Adaptive Sports Center (ASC) located at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Colorado is a nationally recognized organization, and was held as the standard for this study. The operational techniques and strategies being used at the ASC at Crested Butte were evaluated alongside those in New York and Vermont to further understand the degree of facilitation currently provided for this user group. The resorts located in New York State that were observed are Whiteface Mountain and Gore Mountain. The resort locations in the State of Vermont were the Smuggler’s Notch Adaptive Program at Smuggler’s Notch Resort, Killington Resort at Pico Mountain, and Sugarbush Resort, which both operate under Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports. The outcome of this study can be used by program directors at ski resorts that offer adaptive program in order to better accommodate for adaptive skiers and snowboarders.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: On
Major: Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2013
File Attachments: final capstone.doc
Authors: Daniel Lewis

The Redevelopment of the Hiking Treks of BSA Camp Russell of the Revolutionary Trails Council

Mon, 04/22/2013 - 09:48
Abstract: High Adventure Programs are extremely important for Boy Scouts of America Councils. These programs do everything from hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and rock climbing. Each council has their own unique programs specifically made for their area. For Camp Russell of White Lake, NY, redevelopment for part of their High Adventure Program is needed due to the being out of date: The Hiking Treks. New treks will be created with the help of trail mapping with a GPS unit, the ArcMap program, and online research. When all the data is collected, Camp Russell will be supplied with a map that shows many hiking trails within a reasonable driving distance. With this map, a manual will be created that zooms in to each hiking area that has the statistics of each hike. This map can be used by the Camp Russell staff for years to come.
Access: Yes
Literary Rights: Off
Major: Recreations, Adventure Travel and Ecotourism
Year: 2013
File Attachments: Final_Withey.docx
Authors: Richard J. Withey