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Environmental Science and Policy
Smith College gained ownership of 180 acres of forested land in West Whately, Massachusetts in 1962. This land is part of one of the longest tracts of undeveloped land in the entire state. In 1964, an observatory was built for Five College Astronomy research but the inaccessibility of the site resulted in it to remain unused since 1994. Recently, the Astronomy department at Smith has expressed renewed interest in the usefulness of the site and would require the cutting of the regrowth trees to the Eastern Horizon. The aim of this study was to survey the species diversity of the site, their size in diameter-breast-height, and create recommendations on how and where future tree cutting should occur. In our area of study we surveyed a total of 220 trees from 15 different species and only 16 individual trees were found with a diameter-breast-height greater than 40 cm from 5 different species signifying how most trees are young. Additionally, a vernal pool was found with Wood Frog and Spotted salamander eggs. From these results we recommend selective cutting or trimming of trees that obscure the most sky, no cutting within 10 m of the vernal pool and 5 m within the stream, and the stream could be dammed to ensure the survivability of the vernal pool.
© 2009; Sylvia Vega
Vega, Sylvia, "Compromise Between Clear Skies and the Forested Landscape: Assessing the Diversity and Size of Trees in the Proposed Astronomy Clearing Site at the MacLeish Fields Station" (2009). Capstone, Smith College, Northampton, MA.
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