So it’s monitoring season, a time when we spend many nice fall days out in the field, checking in on our preserves and collecting data that will help us with management decisions in the future. Not a bad gig at all! There are three types of monitoring happening this fall: community monitoring, easement monitoring and photomonitoring.
Community monitoring is done yearly but rotated throughout our different preserves so that one community is monitored a year. Community monitoring is done on preserves that are being restored and it keeps track of how the landscape is responding to the restoration by looking at longleaf growth and wiregrass abundance. All of our community monitoring is contracted out to a field botanist who has been collecting data for ten years in our preserves.
Easement monitoring is a yearly process done in-house by Angie Carl and a UNCW intern. This year we have AJ “Amanda” Smithson, a senior who is studying environmental science. The monitoring consists of field visits to all of our easements to make sure there has not been any activity that violates the terms of the easement, like timber thinning or building construction. We have 15 easements in the southeast coastal plain.
Photomonitoring is done every two years and monitors understory growth in relation to controlled burning. There are a series of photopoints in all of our preserves that we burn and each point is marked with a pole and blue paint. A photo is taken from the pole in each of the cardinal directions and filed with photos from the same point from previous years. This makes it easy to go back and see how controlled burning is affecting the understory of the preserve over time. Photomonitoring is done in-house by me and an intern from UNCW. This year I am working with Natasha Whetzel, a senior studying environmental science.
Below is an example of the 4 photos from a photopoint in our Angola Creek preserve. And here is a quick video of a point in our Boiling Spring Lakes preserve featuring Natasha!