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A day at the Major Greg Sanborn WMA with Tin Mountain

posted Nov 6, 2014, 5:43 PM by Jotham Oliver   [ updated Nov 7, 2014, 3:21 AM ]
Not a gloomy day with a forecast of rain nor a old bumpy road with a big honking bus could deter MESA from going to the Major Greg Sanborn WMA (formerly known as the Brownfield Bog).

Dr. Cline, Lily, and Morgan met us there to discuss the most important thing we could ever learn: forest succession (Cline's words). This area is not only rich ecologically, but also in history. After all, one cannot talk Brownfield history, without mentioning the Great Fire of '47. Students got a look at what survived and did not. We took a look at poplar stand and its undergrowth, noticing that the poplar have about lived as long as they can as the hemlock, pine, and sugar maples are ready to take over. 

Also, students got a look at some interesting trees: eastern hophornbeam (ironwood to some), butternut maple, larch, as well as white and black ash which while similar, it's the black that needs the wetter soil. The silver maples that run along this neck of the woods are some of largest that Dr. Cline has ever seen. 

Some big vocabulary terms: mast, involucre, and oxbow. We called the larch an angiosperm, which was a great review for some. 

Last week, the beaver as a keystone species was our focus. On this trip we are able to get up close to a two beaver dens. Here you can make out what Morgan called a beaver slide, which is exactly like it sounds. When a beaver is working on its lodge and hears a predator, down the slide it can go.

As any MESA student knows, this is not a bog; it's a fen. Today, we travelled to a man made dam that acts a spigot for the water that is dumped into this wetland from the Saco a couple of miles upstream. 

What is means to be out in the field with MESA