Preserving Open Space in Chester County 

 

Summer Interns Make Outstanding Contribution

Open Land Conservancy was extremely fortunate to participate for the second year running in the student intern programs managed by the Vally Forge National Historical Park.  Interns Bess Trout and Haley Martin, along with their Supervisor Kate Jensen, worked with us throughout the summer doing valuable maintenance and invasive control work, and also helped us measure a couple of old trees in the preserves. 

Below is a picture of Bess and Haley in front of an old chestnut oak tree in Cool Valley Preserve.  We had just completed identifying the tree and measuring its girth, height and spread.  Bess climbed like a professional 20 feet up into the tree to obtain a leaf for identification.  "This is the most fun I've had in a long time!" she said from high up the tree.

The measurements are used to compile a "point count", which is used to rank the size of the tree.  Our tree totals 335 points, just behind the Pennsylvania state champion chestnut oak at 349 points.  Close enough to bring in experts with laser measuring devices in the winter when the tree is easier to scope.  We will nominate the tree at www.pabigtrees.com.  We are very grateful to neighbor Sue Andrews for allowing us access to the remote location of this tree. 

Encouraged by this work, we also measured the old sycamore in Cedar Hollow Preserve.    At 391 points, this tree is in the top 20 in the state.  Click for details on the tree measurements.  We'll also confirm the measurements of this tree with the experts.

OLC also enjoyed the services of a group of high school students working with an organization called the Student Conservation Association (SCA).  In month-long summer projects, up to eight high school students from around the country are paired with experienced SCA crew leaders to build trails and restore habitat in national parks and on other public land.  Our six students and two adult leaders came from all over the country, from Washington State to Rhode Island.  They worked on two successive Fridays in Airdrie Preserve with Tim Lander, OLC director and preserve manager, and Ray Clarke, OLC director. 

We built log dams and log water bars at the top of the preserve below a Township storm water outlet that is causing damaging erosion.  The Township is slated to install a better system.  Our work will protect the hillside in the meantime and going forward.  Pete Goodman, OLC director, provided the engineering designs and Annie Fiske, the SCA team leader, helped a lot with practical advice during construction.  The pictures show the SCA team and some of the devices they helped to build.

"We are really grateful to the National Park Service for allowing us to participate in this program," said Ray Clarke, who coordinated the interns for OLC.  "All our preserves benefited from the interns' efforts, and I think the students also gained a lot from their experience."