Today marks our last day of work for the summer as North Woods Stewards! While we are sad to leave our summer of days working in the woods and out in the Skidmore Community Garden, we are all pretty excited about what we have accomplished. From extensive work on managing invasive species (we, along with some awesome helpers, pulled 12,000 Garlic Mustard plants these last two months!); to trail signage work (the rest of the signs will be up early fall!); to the development of a Trail Management Plan; to numerous community events in the woods including Kids Nights, a Midnight Walk and a Mindfulness Walk; we have seen the woods remain the wonderful shared natural space that we are so lucky to have right here on campus. We have built awesome lasting partnerships in town like with the Saratoga Springs Farmers Market, and have a bunch of projects up in the works in the woods that will come into fruition in the coming weeks and months. We hope that you all continue to enjoy and respect the North Woods. See you all in the fall when we get back to campus!
We could not have asked for a better way to start our Saturday. Suzanne Rancourt led the community in a wonderful Mindfulness Workshop, where we were able to become more aware of our own presence, each others’ presences, and our connection with the natural world. With no words being spoken on the portion of the workshop where we walked down the Red Trail and Spirit Trail, it seemed to be a perfect atmosphere for all the attendees to use the time and space as they needed– whether to think, or to just be. We want to thank everyone who came out, and Suzanne for guiding us in the activity. It was so nice to see the mix of the Skidmore and surrounding Saratoga community members come together for this event. We hope to have more programs like this in the future, and that the North Woods can continue to be used as a space to foster the mind-body relationship, even if just on our own.
On Wednesday we had the incredible opportunity to go on a walk through the North Woods with Jackie Donnelly. Jackie was the former editor of Skidmore’s Scope Magazine, and has a vast knowledge on the variety of natural life in the North Woods– especially the wildflowers! We walked along the Red Trail and learned about the variety of plants found there, from milkweeds to geraniums to mayapples to ferns. Did you know that New York State has 60 species of orchids, which is more than Florida and Hawaii?? Well it’s true! The orchid we find right here in our limestone-abundant woods is Yellow Lady’s Slipper. Jackie also showed us a huge Boletus mushroom (shown in the picture below), which she knew was part of this genus due to its pores. We were particularly interested in the variety of plants found only in the area, such as Green Violet. Jackie thinks it is possible that this plant is only found right here in Skidmore’s North Woods!
After spending a large chunk of our summer so far as North Woods Stewards focusing on the variety of invasive species we have in the Woods (Garlic Mustard, Knotweed, Burning Bush, oh my!) it was great to take a step back and learn about (and appreciate!) all of the native wildflowers we have. It is this type of knowledge that keeps us inspired to continue our work to protect these native species, and also remembering the importance to resist the tempting urge to pick these beautiful flowers!
Hope you are now inspired to take a walk in the North Woods and check out the native plants!
See you out there!
Nick and Laura
This stringy organism is Dodder Weed. It is part of the Morning Glory family, and is parasitic to a wide variety of plants. Dodder needs to be parasitic because it does not contain chlorophyll (or has very low levels), and thus relies on the host plant for food. It does this by attaching itself to the host plant and wrapping itself around it. At this point, the dodder produces and inserts haustoria into the vascular system of the host and takes its nutrients.
Jackie and a Boletus Mushroom
This beautiful moss found in the North Woods is called Rose Moss (Rhodobryum roseum) and is known for its leaves that look like flowers. Rose moss is versatile in that it can grow in acidic or basic conditions, and is often found in large patches on limestone rocks– like we see here in the North Woods!
We just want to report on our first Kids Night in the North Woods of the summer! Since it was a rainy night and we were worried about puddles and mud we decided to stay inside and do some activities indoors. We learned about different ways to identify animal tracks by looking at the footprint itself and at where the tracks are placed.
After some fun animal imitations during introductions, we explored our own footprints by doing a rubbing of our shoes, and then did some detective work to identify who’s footprint belonged to which person.
Then we learned about the way that footprints will make a different pattern depending on whether the creature is walking or hopping down the trail.
Lastly, we read through Whose Tracks are These? by Jim Nail, which taught us about the different animals we might see in the forest–everyone was really good at guessing which animal’s tracks were which! We’ll have to come up with some harder ones next times…
Thank you to all who came out! Our next Kid’s Night will be in July–we’ll be announcing an exact schedule of events soon!
Last Saturday, we had the opportunity to take a walk in the North Woods with a group of alumni who shared their experiences with us. These alumni ranged from Class of 1974 to Class of 1999, and had many different stories about the woods.
Some of the ’74 alumni remembered that there used to be a ski slope in the woods, which has since been reforested–they confessed to stealing trays from the dining hall and going traying down the slopes! However, they were excited to learn about the trails, which weren’t accessible while they were on campus. Other alumni remembered taking walks in the woods and a few had visited with geology and biology classes.
We shared that the woods are now used for over 30 classes and many research labs. Our network of trails is available for everyone at Skidmore and in the Saratoga (and larger) community. On our walk we got to show some examples our work in the North Woods, as well as discuss our future plans, but mostly listened to the many stories they shared with us! Thank you!
We’d be excited to hear your own memories of the North Woods in the comments below. Also, I know there were a few alumni taking pictures, which we’d love to see! As always, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Hey everyone! We wanted to introduce ourselves as the new North Woods Stewards for Summer 2014. We are just finishing up our first official week as Stewards and are excited about all that we have in store for this summer. Some of our plans include leading a variety of tours and workshops for the Skidmore and local community, cleaning up the trails and making them easier to navigate, and getting rid of this invasive species problem! Garlic Mustard, Japanese Barberry, Burning Bush, Japanese Knotweed… get ready for us! We will also be spending time helping out with Skidmore’s Community Garden which is now located right on campus on the Wiecking Green! (See their blog here: http://skidmoregarden.tumblr.com/) We are looking forward to all that this summer has in store, and hope to see you out on the trails!
This week marks the beginning of a new conservation project in the North Woods! Skidmore Facilities, Sustainable Skidmore, the Skidmore Student Conservation Corps, students from an Environmental Sociology class, and this semester’s North Woods Steward are teaming up to build a new boardwalk on the Red Trail right behind the North Woods Apartments.
This is a photo of a boardwalk at Wilton Wildlife, the North Woods Boardwalk will be very similar.
The boardwalk will be 250 feet long and four feet wide, and will replace the old boardwalks that are currently falling apart back there. The new boardwalk will help prevent erosion and damaging trail use, as well as make the trail a safer space to be.
We hope to have it built in by the end of the fall semester. If you have any questions or want to get involved, please email North Woods Steward Eliza Hollister at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is my last post as a North Woods Steward! We have accomplished a lot this summer, from putting up signs and dealing with invasive plant species to making videos, leading tours, and learning about the diversity and unique-ness of the North Woods. I will be sad to leave, but know that I am leaving the woods in Eliza’s capable caring hands, and later in those of new stewards. Yay for evolution, change and progress!
Here are the two videos that I made using footage taken by the past North Woods Stewards, Maranda Duval, Charles Glassberg, Adam Schmelkin, Jennifer Garvin, and Sondra Lipshutz to help people connect with the woods.
I hope that you all get a chance to get out into the North Woods and explore! There really is so much there to know, understand and experience.
Some cool things are happening this week. We finished putting up the Red Trail signs this morning, and are beginning on the Blue. Today we also finished an interactive map called a storymap of the invasive species on Skidmore Campus with the help of Alex Chaucer. It shows the locations of landscaped invasive species on campus. Check it out in the link below!
This week we led a tour for a group of international students who will begin their Skidmore career this fall, as well as a couple pre-college RAs with the Johns Hopkins CTY program. We had a wonderful time!
More exciting news this week, we are beginning to put up the Red Trail signs! They will all be up by the end of next week, so keep an eye out!