New Adventures by Samantha Loutzenhiser

Monday, July 23 2012
Today Mike S. from the Idaho office began his site visit starting with team 1. We began our day with the planting of S. validus, C. stricta, and Iris. Near the time that we finished planting, our NPS contact came to visit and showed our project leader where he would like us to begin spraying herbicide. We were quickly coming to realize exactly how hot it was going to be that day; the morning had been pleasant and cool as it had rained early in the morning. While our leader continued to explore the depths of The Great Marsh with our NPS contact, we returned to the station to gather our equipment for herbicide and refill our water cooler. Upon returning to the work site, we broke for lunch. Our desperate attempts to avoid roasting in the sun soon became an attempt to not roast in the shade of the truck. After lunch we hiked the trail along an area bordering our section and a section known as ‘Little Venice.’ This trail took us deep into the marsh where an ATV had delivered 20 jugs of herbicide for us. One member went with the NPS folk to spray cattail with the aid of the ATV and a ladder. We filled our packs under the shade of a willow tree and began the trek out to the beginning of the area needing spraying. By this time the heat index was well over 100 degrees and the tall cattail and brush blocked the breeze and trapped the heat. We began taking very frequent water breaks, but despite our efforts we quickly felt the heat’s wrath. We began spraying cattail. Our leader joined us a little bit later and when the team needed to refill the packs we attempted to trek back to the willow tree. Three members went first in an attempt to find the jugs, I followed shortly by myself. I soon lost my way in an attempt to find the Little Venice trail- I must have crossed right across it and not have noticed because it is a new footpath trail and in my heat-weary state, didn’t notice it. I turned around and attempted to find my way back to where we had begun spraying, hoping to find our trail. Failing at this too, I attempted to find the Little Venice trail again, this time I found the others, also lost. Within a few minutes of finding them, we found our herbicide jugs and most importantly our water cooler. We took a much needed rest to cool down and get our sense of direction back. We flagged and GPS marked the willow tree hoping that it will help lead us ‘home’ in the future. Once we refilled our packs, we followed the trail we had made out to the area needing spraying to rejoin our leader. This trek was especially hot. As we proceeded, it soon became evident that the heat was going to get the best of us, but soon it was time for the day to end. Never have we been so grateful to cram in to the cab of our now very stinky truck, to blast the AC. We ended our day with a cool and refreshing trip into the AC at the grocery store for team food.

Tuesday- July 24
Today was our day for Mike and Ted’s visit with us. When we arrived at the station we loaded buckets of forbes, since they prefer the area closer to road. We did this because of an impending storm that was yielding 70mph winds in nearby Chicago, IL. No sooner than we had finished loading the plants, the winds really began to pick up and it soon began to lighting, thunder, and pour down rain. We sought shelter in the greenhouses and began transplanting plants into the trays of 38 cells that will eventually be planted. When the storm ended, we returned to The Great Marsh for another day of planting. Keeping close to the roadside, we planted our forbes (which hopefully with the rain will help them thrive). We efficiently planted all that we had brought with us so part of the team returned to the station to refill our plants while a few remained to finish a few buckets of plants. It was quickly becoming hotter and sunnier, we all feared that we would soon have a repeat of Monday and began stressing more water breaks. The day proceeded well and uneventfully.

Wednesday- July 25
This morning was cool and cloudy as it had rained in the morning which had delayed our start to the field. Today we planted Scirpus acutus in a new area where we were ankle to past our knees in standing swamp water. This change in scenery was greatly appreciated and we enjoyed the uniqueness of the marsh. Following our planting we began to spray herbicide in our normal section. This day quickly became very hot. We took ample water breaks, but still the heat was very oppressive. We ended our day with a swim in Lake Michigan to cool down before going home.

Thursday- July 26
This morning we planted Scirpus validus and a few Carex species. The afternoon yields a new adventure for us. We finally got to chainsaw! Mike and our project leader reviewed our chainsaw training and we began to clear brush to make visible the fen (a type of wetland) from the Cowle’s Bog Trail. We worked in teams, one with our leader and one with Mike. We alternated chain sawing and swamping (pulling the cut brush out and putting it in piles). We all enjoyed this work day very much because of its change of pace.