Snow Day Exploration

During the past month, I had multiple opportunities to go out into the field with my mentor. I usually work from home or in the supervisor’s office, but my mentor is a firm supporter of Forest exploration and understanding. Without seeing the Forest, I cannot fully understand Monongahela National Forest’s projects and actions.

On one of our first outings, we drove up to Gaudineer Knob—the peak of which is about 4.4 thousand feet high. We found that it had snowed, so we took a few photos along the way. Where I’m from in Virginia, a “white Christmas” is unheard of, let alone snow sticking in October.

Once we reached the peak, we found red spruce and moss-covered in a light blanket of snow. Red spruce is interesting because its ecology supports moss-covered forest floors. Spruce forests, which were once expansive in West Virginia, also support threatened species like the West Virginia northern flying squirrel and the Cheat Mountain salamander. They are vitally important for carbon and water storage, which is why Monongahela National Forest has focused on spruce restoration for the past ten years.

I am excited to learn more about the benefits of this threatened species, and I am excited to learn more about plant ecology in Monongahela National Forest. 

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