Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Skyway Robbery Pt 6
Originally uploaded by Nikographer [Jon]
"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." ~Carol Sobieski and Thomas Meehan, Annie

Well it was a roller coaster summer, and I had fun. This is just a steping stone on in my path. Thanks everybody that made it great!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Surveying and such

Over the last few weeks I've been helping with the adaptive management program. So a recap of whats going on.
     So like most of the refuges in region 5 Blackwater is faced with sea rising and disappearing  wetlands.  One tool to help detour this is fire. When a fire comes through , it burns down vegetation , making  rhizomes and roots in most plants beef up and send out more runners. In turn the marsh is stabilized to an extent. Paired with sea level rise and other influences managing for this is tough. Refuges have placed SET (surface elevation tables) to monitor the changes. But these are single point references, to determine elevation changes across a larger range we are using real time kinetic geographic positioning systems.

the base

  So my day happens like this.
    In the morning we meet and set up a base (right) at a known SET point. these bench sites are our standards, years ago they were set up by super surveyors, so without a doubt we can say we know their position and most importantly their elevation. Once its set up, we have a window of 6 hours before the battery goes dead on us, and yes it has before.

 There are 2 teams of 2 biology staff.  A person to man the rover and someone to use the data recorder that goes with it (below).  Each team then goes to their point, which was picked previously in a big map for the summer, each transect at the point is 120 meters long, and a data point is taken every half meter. Which happens to measure out to be, one big step for me.
  Most of the points are a hike to get to, and we generally use a boat or sometimes the air boat to get close to it to walk in. Like most feild studies, weather and equipment problems sometimes beset us. If things run smoothly we can get four points ( 2 each) taken care of in one day before the battery dies. I think I sweat a mixture of sunscreen, bug spray, and Gatorade now.

Me  and my buddy, the Rover.

Friday, July 30, 2010

“Ok let’s get focused! We have alot of things to get done today!”

taking the notes. Susanne is in the background
Today I shadowed Susanne Baird, the refuge  manager. Talking with her was exciting! Until now I knew I  wanted to work in wildlife management or land conservation but I couldn’t really narrow that I wanted to do , to a specific program. Managers take everything into consideration and work with the big picture. I love this idea. I listened in on a conference call for the creation of a new historic paddle trail and also a meeting with contractors for a new wing in the visitor’s center on the refuge. I learned that partnership is critical in politics and support for any program you are pushing for. Just think of it. Me..your boss.. Muwahaha
west wing planning

Paperwork ahhh

hmmmm donuts...
I just finished proof reading ten years of waterfowl surveys for Blackwater. Now I’m not going to lie, it was not the most exciting project I have done, and I had to ask myself if what I was doing was actually relevant, but it was. The numbers were not checked since being added to the excel spread sheet so if you were to make any charts or models for things like grant writing or managing for tends just from the waterfowl excel numbers, you would run the risk of misinterpreting the actual data . To get a feel for how many numbers I checked, there was about 3 days in one month and each day there was about 75 points. Then consider that the survey went back ten years , so I checked roughly 27,000 points. Wheew!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Banding brown pelicans!

Ok so Sunday I got to go out with some people to band brown pelicans. I did not know that they were endangered until last year when they got unlisted. The major reasons they became endangered was from habitat loss and also from problems arising from the pesticide DDT . See, DDT made the eggs brittle and weaker, and pelicans incubate eggs with their feet. So eggs were getting crushed and other whatnot. Anyways, DDT was banned along time ago and efforts from private and federal have helped these birds come back. But they still need to be watched over. SSOOOooo.. I got to band them. neat huh!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Long Term Monitoring of Delmarva Fox Squirrels

( smile, your on hidden camera!)
(The traps have to be baited every 3 days, The traps have been ziptied close to stop bigfoot!! just kidding the traps help detour raccoons and other wildlife from eatting the corn. )
"The Delmarva fox squirrel was listed as federally endangered in 1967. The
remaining populations persist naturally in portions of 5 counties on the eastern
shore of Maryland: Kent, Queen Annes, Talbot and Dorchester counties. Current causes for their decline include loss and fragmentation of their habitat due to timber harvesting and converting forested land into farms, housing developments, roads and commercial property. biologists require up to date information about the squirrels and their habitat needs. To help biologists determine Delmarva fox squirrel population trends, seven sites were established for long term monitoring of Delmarva fox squirrels. Information collected includes abundance, population structure (by age and sex), reproductive activity, growth rates, and movements. Stability or expansion of these populations over a five-year period is one of the principal criteria for Delmarva fox squirrel recovery. Five-year monitoring data from these sites is currently being analyzed. The sites include: Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge; Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge; Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge (two separate tracts)"
siting up cameras, I got to do this, once.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Training to survey!

There is this idea that fire on marshes is good, to a point. Until now fire has been used as a management tool, but if you think about it, fire is also the natural reset for many ecosystems. It prevents some ecosystems from falling to the forests and maintains a praire system. However, little is still known about how fire really effects estuaries and the trophic cycles that are present there. There is a team at Blackwater that is spearheading survey to find out if fire has an actual effect, not new growth or nutrient loading, but to see fire effects vertical accretion, and other stuff stuff.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

"Barren" Island no more! Last years SCA's service project

There is only a few remaining islands in the Chesapeake Bay, In addition to providing storm buffers they also provide habitat for local shellfish, waterfowl and nesting colonial waterbirds. Barren Island is one of these. There is a long term planting project there. The cordgrass helps keep the sediments from eroding away.

The program that I'm in actually came to Blackwater last year for their orientation week , as a part of it they have to complete one service project together. They replanted a portion of Barren Island, Today I checked up on how things looked from a planting that took place last May and last year.
Last years SCA's, image~ Lamar Gore

last years sca planting , image~ Lamar Gore

Last years SCA's at Barren Island, image~ Lamar Gore


So Here I am going to check if the replanted grasses became established . "This multi-agency partnership addresses the issues of dredge material placement, island erosion, resource protection, and innovative shoreline protection in one tidal marsh/island restoration project. The island was severely eroded from a combination of high wave energy, rising sea levels, land submersion, ship wakes, and the natural ebb and fl ow of barrier islands. In fact, it was eroding at the rate of 15 feet per year. Without the island, it’s likely that waves would eventually destroy the underwater vegetation and erode the shoreline of Southern Dorchester County, especially during storms"- read more here.

"There be land!"

look at all that spartina

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hail Cove Planting

Today I planted spartina alterniflora on the beach of hail cove in Eastern Neck. The Cove is slowing being washed away. The restoration of the Cove aquatic vegetation would help restore the marsh habitat , strengthen the beach from washing away with the currents, and maintain a barrier from the currents that would increase the turbidity on the other side of it. There is a nice video of it can you spot me? try around 2:10.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


In most all cases invasives out compete desirable plants that may play vital roles in maintaining the health and balance of the ecosystem. The refuge has a large number of both floral and faunal invasive  species. Methods of control vary between the  specific species. 

Thistle is a noxious weed , the refuge controls these plants with spot treatment  of herbicides. Staff monitor for thistle and spot spray in affected areas , today I helped spot spray for thistle at Moneystump.  

in ghostbuster get-up spraying for thistle
hard to see, but its thistle
looking back at letica spraying

Monday, June 7, 2010

First, an introduction.

Hi! my name is Cristina and I'm excited to be a Fish and Wildlife senior at Northeastern State University in beautiful Tahlequah Oklahoma! I am working towards graduate school in resource management where I hope to work in Indian Country to help give back to my people and help preserve our natural resources.
This summer I am a intern at the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge Maryland. I work for the U.S. Fish Wildlife Service though a partnership with the Student Conservation Association .
I plan to document all the my awesome exiperiences and cool things I see in this blog, So read on!!........

cutting up a moose mn 09
there be bears in these parts!!!! mn 09

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A little backstory, Blackwater NWR

I'm stationed at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge this summer, It is a wonderful place to be! Blackwater was established in 1931 for a migratory bird refuge. What makes the refuge unique is that it weaves marshes, croplands, and moist soil impoundments into a system that provides an extremely productive habitat for migrating and wintering birds! It also is home to the Delmarva Fox Squirrel.

Monday, May 31, 2010

CIP-FWS Orientation Week

Orientation was held at the lovely Rachael Carson Nation Wildlife Refuge in Wells Maine. breath taking for sure! Got to know alot of neat kids! Its powerful to be surrounded with people that share your enthusiasm for conservation! Simply awesome!
Here is link to us as a feature story on the us fish and wildlife website, pretty cool huh ?!
and here is another article on us. http://www.thesca.org/hands-on/2010/06/getting-acquainted-and-getting-work which I was miss quoted, just a bit, funny but the mom didn't think so haha, and a nice picture of me with my usual non makeup.... which is unsettling.. haha!
This is a test post from work, hope the boss doesn't catch me. haha