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A compromise between clear skies and the forested landscape: Assessing the diversity and size of trees in the proposed Astronomy clearing site at the MacLeish Field Station, West Whately, Massachusetts
Environmental Science and Policy
The MacLeish field station in West Whately, Massachusetts represents over 200- acres of forested land that is part of one of the largest contiguous areas of forested land in the state of Massachusetts. The field station represents a living laboratory for students and professors at Smith College and the larger five-college area. The Smith College Observatory on the site has remained unused since 1994, but remains part of a long heritage of women in science and the spirit of exposing undergraduates to research experience. As awareness of the field station has grown the astronomy department has expressed interest in reopening the observatory. In order to get full use out of the observatory the removal of trees that have grown up in the interim is necessary to open up the view of the sky. Using three transects this study examined the diversity and sizes of the trees located on the proposed clearing site. Our research surveyed 220 trees and found a total of 15 species and 10 different genera over a wide range of size classes. The largest trees on the site (DBH > 40.0 cm) were also surveyed over the entire study plot. Additionally, this study documented the existence of a vernal pool located on the site. GIS data was used to map the study plot, transects, largest trees, a stream that runs through the site, and the location of the vernal pool. Our study encompassed several land management issues and represents a workable compromise between the interested departments. It is our hope that this research will be used in the land management plan for the area east of the observatory.
© 2009; Lela Schlenker
Schlenker, Lela, "A compromise between clear skies and the forested landscape: Assessing the diversity and size of trees in the proposed Astronomy clearing site at the MacLeish Field Station, West Whately, Massachusetts" (2009). Capstone, Smith College, Northampton, MA.
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