Casey Blankenship, who was one of our first interns in 2020 and who has helped onboard our new interns ever since, presented an overview of the work conducted over the past several years across the Preserve. He presented data on invasive species removal from 2020 to present and also described how he updated the geodatabase that stores all of this information.
Some impressive work has been done, including more than 1,000 trees measured in 2021. The 2022 interns added to the dataset, creating a broad picture of all the work done over the past four years by our interns. The creation of a newer platform will allow us to migrate all processes over to facilitate data analyses of the more than 8,000 data points in our geodatabase.
This year’s interns, Jacob Weber and Jessica Whitehead, presented their 2023 season review in a story map. Their goals included filling in forest inventory data for hard-to-reach areas of the Preserve and developing a water quality monitoring protocol. They finished data collection Sept. 8th and are now working on their data analyses. They explained that the water monitoring is based on Ecology’s Water Quality and Habitat Monitoring guidelines. They noticed that flows are very low in Lost and Wildcat creeks and that there are invasive species along Chico Creek especially in areas with limited canopy cover. In consultation with Kitsap County Public Works on sampling methodology, two sites were chosen for Biological Monitoring and Indicator (BMI) data collection. They used a simple order breakdown of species and the presence or absence of sensitive or tolerant species and found “excellent” water quality in Lost Creek and “good” in Wildcat Creek, which may be due to lower water flow in Wildcat Creek. Jacob also noted that Seabeck Highway may be a source of polluted stormwater into Chico Creek.
While conducting forest density surveys, the interns observed what may be laminated root rot in Douglas fir trees with standing patches that include dark fungus. The dark fungus was especially present on Douglas firs and Western hemlock trees. Although laminated root rot is a part of most Douglas fir forests, we plan on reaching out to the Foundation’s arborist to confirm what is happening to the trees and how to best address it in the near and long term.
In all, we have a great team of interns working on the Preserve using their skills and passion for the environment to help us protect and restore Hidden Valley. It’s truly inspiring!
– Amy Lawrence, Preserve Committee