Stories From the Field: Daniel Boone National Forest


The Times They Are a’ Changin

Dear Readers,
With our work completed in the Red River Gorge, we moved south to our new location in the heart of the Beaver Creek wilderness area, one of two wilderness areas in Kentucky! After three months of living in tents (which was intense—excuse the camping pun), we were rewarded with a much needed reprieve from the woods and rain as we moved into a quaint little brick home. This house is like a dream come true for us after having slept on the ground for roughly 90 days—the beds are so comfortable, and we are spoiled with air conditioning. Perfect for the hot and dry Kentucky summer! We are happily settled into our own rooms, and with the full kitchen, we all feel like Emeril Degrassi when it’s time to cook dinner.
 Along with a change of scenery, we have also had a change of invasive plant species: Elaeagnus umbellata, known to the layman as “Autumn Olive.” Due to the expansive nature of this species, its overwhelming population has grown to excessive heights and as a result, this plant is our primary focus.  This deciduous shrub has crimped leaves and is laden with delicious sweet berries, which must be picked off in order to prevent propagation. If we were to simply leave the berries or distribute them back into the forest they would quickly repopulate and newly infest the area. With all of the bags of berries we collected, we made a tasty Autumn Olive pie and tart with the help of our visiting fellow SCA project leader Gabby Andrews! Despite the positive (and delectable) aspects of this tree, it is still a nuisance in its non-native environment. It competes with indigenous plants for light and space thus the need for its removal.  This tree certainly will keep us busy throughout these next few weeks! Bring it on, Autumn Olive. 
Regarding the wildlife in Beaver Creek, we have had a couple of exciting encounters so far. The first creature we stumbled upon (literally) was a King Snake. This non-venomous black snake was nonchalantly gliding along the trail when one of us nearly tripped over it. It quickly slithered away, unscathed, besides its bruised dignity. Our next encounter was a bit more precarious. While uprooting a particularly stubborn Autumn Olive, we disturbed a Copperhead snake that was resting next to the tree. Luckily Mason’s lady screams alerted us to the danger!!! We were able to quickly skirt around the confused snake and give it plenty of space. After a few minutes of glaring at us, it listlessly went on its way. 
One group of creatures we are lucky to not have come across yet are ticks. We were warned about the abundance of these little buggers impending our transition down, and boy the warnings were not pleasant! To our relief, the run-ins with these pests have been very few (knock on wood). 
Recently we were also graced with the presence of a new member, Paige Triola, who is a great addition to our already awesome crew! Below Paige will tell you all about herself!
Hailing from Chalfont, Pennsylvania, I am the most recent addition to the Daniel Boone Trail Crew. I am 22 years old and recently earned my degree in biology from Lafayette College this past May. Some of my interests include mixed martial arts, traveling, reading and writing, drawing, and painting. I love to learn new languages–Spanish and Italian in particular. Spending time in nature is one of my favorite things to do.