The best part about being in Oregon and interning at the Hebo Ranger District is having the opportunity to experience a little bit of everything that goes on in the office. In the last couple of days I was able to join the wildlife technicians and the recreation staff at the Sand Lake Recreation Area. While doing so I got the chance to learn something new about what the technician and recreation positions involve, as well as how extensive the Siuslaw Forest is. Halle, the technician, and I drove to a new section of the forest, called Buzzard. We headed to a section high up in the mountains where a group of plots were set up for small mammal study purposes. I mainly helped with data collecting and began to learn how to identify certain tree species.
It is always nice when the weather cooperates and allows you to fully observe the forest, to take in all the smells, see the many colors of the blooming plants, and recognize a few songbirds by their call. The beauty of a forest like the Siuslaw stands out when you go to a section like Buzzard and simply listen carefully for a few minutes. You immediately begin to enjoy the silence that suddenly breaks with the Pacific Wren calling somewhere close on the ground. There is also a breeze that moves the tree branches just enough for some sunlight to come through and warm my cold face. In my time here I have seen different forest stands, those that are natural vs. the ones that are managed and thinned for timber products. Both the natural and managed stands can influence wildlife in different ways. Hopefully, the results of current and future research projects in the area will help determine the best management practices for the benefit of the forest and the wildlife that depend on it.
The week was not over, though, and thanks to the community outreach coordinator in Corvallis I traveled to a campsite to talk about Leave no Trace Principles and share the story of the corvids, trash, and the endangered birds of the Siuslaw Forest. This group of kids were from the Willamette Valley and had not been to the Siuslaw Forest before, but they were still very knowledgeable about the different bird species. I enjoyed my time at the campsite mainly because I got to share information that was new with the kids about how our behavior as visitors to a national park or forest can affect wildlife. Having this knowledge is a powerful tool that the children can share with their families and friends and, in turn, help promote the stewardship of our public lands.