Sept. 19, 2023
My last week at Starker Forests was a great one! We started the week off right with more stream surveying.
I got paired with Anthony and we drove to Snow Canyon Rehab to check to see if the streams
flowed into the unit. Sure enough, there was flowing water, and so we surveyed up the non-fish stream. It was very brushy, making it slow-going, but I still had a lot of fun. Stream surveying is kind of like a scavenger hunt. As you walk along the stream, you’re looking for places where it branches off. Sometimes, you lose sight of the stream, but if you keep walking you might find it pop up again, after it flowed underground.
Tuesday was a very different day, as all of us interns joined Starker forester Jennifer to see what a day as a forest engineer looks like. We drove to see where a bridge had fallen on Starker property. Unfortunately, the road hadn’t been cleared yet by the contractor, but Jennifer still got to show us the plans for the new bridge. It was amazing to see all the details that go into such a project. An important part of designing a bridge is assessing the problems with the previous bridge, which involved erosion of the soil around the bridge and the material (logs), which wasn’t quite as sturdy. Both of these, along with much more, went into play when constructing the design for this new bridge.
Afterwards, we picked up some hay bales and drove out to multiple culverts to mulch the bare soil around the stream. The process of mulching involves spraying
grass seed from seed bags over the soil and then covering the area with straw. This is to ensure that erosion does not take place and grass/other vegetation starts to grow again around the culvert and the stream.
Tuesday was Anthony and Joseph’s last day, so we had to take our long-awaited “shelfy” (selfie with a shelf, as Joseph calls it).
On Wednesday and Thursday, Kathy and I cruised timber on the coast with Lys. Starker was looking at some new property and wanted to know what type of timber was in this stand. The common species we ran into included Douglas-fir, western hemlock and Sitka spruce. We noted that there was a lot of evidence of Swiss needle cast, which is a foliage disease affecting Douglas-fir. There were multiple plots with dead or nearly dead Douglas-fir trees due to this fungal pathogen.
We finished cruising earlier on Thursday, so we had time for lunch with a nice view. When we got back to the office, Lys input our data into a computer and then she let me take over and, step by step, explained the process she goes through of grouping the data and then getting the program to run so that it outputs average height, average diameter and much more. This is helpful for multiple reasons, but one of them is making sure that the data that comes through matches the stand we just cruised. If the heights and diameters don’t make sense, then something in the program went wrong. When working with the data on computers, there is often a lot of troubleshooting involved, but when it works and the programs run smoothly, it is very beneficial, as it presents an overview of the timber that we just cruised.
Friday was my last day working for Starker this summer. Kathy and I went cruising in a very steep unit that had
very different plots throughout the stand. The first plot was all alder trees and in our second plot there was no trees. The third plot was a bit better, with two Douglas-fir trees, but this was still not ideal, as you want to have a plot between four and eight trees, six being the best. At our fifth plot, we decided to change the BAF (Basal Area Factor) from 35 to 25. This made it so our fifth plot had six trees instead of three. We continued on using this BAF for the rest of the stand, getting better numbers of trees. Kathy and I headed back a bit early for our exit interviews and packed up our gear, cleaned out our totes, and wiped down our D-tapes, which will be used by next year’s summer crew.
Working for Starker this summer has been an amazing adventure. I have learned so much from just three months of working in the woods, and I know that this hands-on experience will greatly impact my career path in the field of forestry. This internship was challenging and helped me learn to think for myself and be confident in my decision-making. You’re not always going to have someone else with you when you’re out in the woods, so it’s important to know how to solve problems and think quickly when making decisions.
I felt very welcomed at Starker and enjoyed getting to know everyone who worked there. Working at Starker feels like working within a big family, everyone is watching out for each other, but also pushing each other to do better and excel in their work. I know that this summer at Starker was time well spent and I hope to work again for Starker in the future. Thank you to everyone who made this experience such a great one!
– Sabrina Giulietti