Rhode Island Beaches

While over spring break I returned home to Rhode Island. The weather was sunny and with powerful winds blowing. While talking with my family members they were relieved to see clear skies after they had the large dumping of snow in the past week.  With such nice weather, I went on a run and finished at my local beach, Barrington Town Beach, which looks out to Narragansett Bay. This location is a lot different from Burlington regarding the drastic changes in vegetation, wildlife, land formation, and ecosystems.  

One of the biggest changes in the two locations is that Rhode Island is not landlocked and is on the coast. With this difference, there are many species, specifically saltwater marine life, that is not located in Vermont, such as gray seals, harp seals, harbor seals, clams, oysters, mussels, and scallops. A big concern in recent time is shellfish filtering the water in the Narraganset Bay which is a positive action, but they have been absorbing pollutants like sewage and toxic metals. With shellfish absorbing these substances it makes them unable to be eaten hurting the fishing and reassurance economy. Another issue that is trying to be solved by Save the Bay, a non-profit organization striving to protect the environment of Rhode Island, is regaining the scallop species in the area. Scallops habitat in the ocean is eelgrass beds, which the organization is trying to recover due to diseases, pollution, and coastal development resulting in the vegetation to die. A resolution to this problem is scallop have to be placed in cages where they can spawn at sanctuaries in the Bay and in salt ponds to try to increase the species. Another is the multiple Save the Bay clean up down around the state in coastal areas and identifying where runoff is occurring.

Rhode Island has a very low elevation compared to Vermont meaning, unfortunately, there are no mountains or hiking trails to travel along. One thing that the state has though is many wonderful beaches to visit, swim in, or even surf at.  While going to Barring Town Beach, Narragansett Beach, Second Beach, and may more what you will always notice is the sand dune environment.  What my town beach has a lot of is Ammophila Arenaria, otherwise, known as beach grass. These species can tolerant the salt spray, strong winds, and burial by blowing or accumulating sand.  They also help the beach by protecting the area from erosion. With hopefully warmer weather and spring coming they should begin to grow again after a long fall and winter. Birds will also use these plants to nest in, but one concern is that their nesting areas can be close to humans or developed areas.

The town of Barrington once belonged to the Pokanoket Wampanoag tribe, Pokanoket meaning land at the clearing, but are referred to in current times as the Wampanoag. When Europeans came over they brought disease that wiped out the many of the Wampanoag tribe members. As time progressed the town became little agricultural community where crops would grow such as grains, corn, rye, oats, barley, and apples. If you drive around town you may notice many grassland fields with stone walls around them since farmers did this to separate land. When the railroad connecting to Providence had been completed the town became a suburb for commuters to live in. This attracted many people, specifically the baby boomers, causing the town to establish schools in order for their children to get an education.

The natural history of Barrington Town Beach and many other areas along the coat is that the Wampanoag tribes would travel in their cannons along the ocean and up the current in order to hunt for food or means of travel. As time progressed and suburb settlement began in the town the water was used very often for the recreation purposes. The bedrock of the beach is mostly made of layers of clay, gravel, sand, and silt soils, which were formed near the end of the last ice age when the melting of glaciers occurred. Most people who lived in the town would go to this natural area as a place to escape the busy lives they had a home. They often would bring their children and go swimming or lay in the sand. Sailing was also a popular activity that many locals were apart of since the coastal environment has very strong winds to push the sails forward. 

(Source: Barrington Preservation Society)

Lots of seagulls can be spotted here in the summertime and late fall. I have mostly seen them moving with the tide, searching for crabs, fighting over food scraps left behind by humans, or leaving white droplets on peoples cars.  When I visited today on a warm Sunday afternoon there was not a lot of seagulls to be seen, but there was a few off in the distance moving with the waves. It may be too cold for them just yet to be returning to Rhode Island since we still have a few more days of rainy and cold weather ahead.   

Red Rocks Park March Visit

Wetland, woodland, or wildland?

If I were to classify Red Rocks Park with the three categories of wetland, woodland, or wildland it would most likely fit the characteristics of the wildland environment with a hint of a woodland environment. My phenology spot unlike many other has cliffs that run along the shores of Lake Champlain. It also has lots of gullies or water-worn gorges. Luckily Red Rocks Park dose does not have such high temperatures and dry soil to cause forest fires to occur, but this means based on its location as well as openness it gets hit with harsh weather conditions. Some of them are whipping winds, heavy rain and snowfall in colder months. Walking through the woods located here, especially in the summer,  is very soothing to the mind, body, and soal due to the green vegetation surrounding you as well as the peacefulness of bird calls being heard softly in the distance. The reason why it has elements of a woodland environment is that there can be beech and types of maple trees found in the woods of Red Rocks Park. It is however not a wetland for this area does not contain pounds, cotton grass, cattails, marsh grass or any natural muck.  The only exception is in the months of migration ducks, which are found in marsh grass areas, come to the shore side Red Rocks Park as a stopping point on their journey to warmer weather. Ultimately the purpose of this protected area was meant for citizens living in Burlington or other towns to have an accessible place where they can take a few minutes out of their to enjoy and unwind in this lushes environment. They have areas dedicated for families to barbeque their food while providing picknick tables to sit at, trails maintained for people to travel on, a beach area to swim at, and cliffs for the adventurous to jump off over.

Traveling to Red Rocks Park in the month of March was quite refreshing. As I walked to my phenology spot the paths that were once frozen over with ice and snow has now mostly melted leaving a muddy trail to step on. With the little snow that remains human and canine footprints can be seen. As I approached my destination I noticed that most of the sun that shines on Lake Champlain had melted the snow that surrounded the Eastern White Pines trunks, yet a little white dushing was still on the bottom of the trunk since they didn’t get any exposer to the sun.  Some of the remaining snow had little circle indents which were most likely due to the rain or melting on snow from branches above. Another noticeable difference from the last visit was the frozen soil on the ground was very soft, soggy, and smooshy due to the influence of water received.

The substrate of the land located a Red Rocks Park was that there where lots of fallen trees located in areas with dense vegetation. Most were very long, tall, and thin trees that looked as though they were ripped from their anchor of a trunk. These fallen branches can be used for wildlife as a den for mating or a shelter that can protect them from other predators. Another noticeable aspect was that the pinecones that have been on the ground for the harsh months of winter have had their seeds eaten as well as have had the color and health sucked out of them.  I believe that once the pinecones and the fallen trees in the area have used these to the creators beneficial gain of survival over time the natural substances will decay and go into the understory.

When looking at my phenology spot through the BioFinder program I discovered that the land was a hundred percent conserved environment. The vegetation the area had a lot of mixed forest, deciduous forest, and evergreen forest. Along the shore of Lake Champlain, there was lots of Palestine scrub-shrub that can be seen. The species and natural communities in the protected environment had a high percentage of the rare plants, which is the pink and yellow lines that extend outwards into Lake Champlain. The animals species which is the blue colored lines, exceed the parks barriers entering urbanized areas. One of those wildlife species being deer. The orange color in the image symbolizes the scale of the habit that is being preserved. The purple colored line that travels around the cliffs of Red Rocks Park is the presence of the natural community.

Welcome Back to Red Rocks Park

After being away from Red Rocks Park for a long time I was curious to see what changes I would encounter while there. When arriving at my phenology location the land was all iced over and hard to navigate. However, the area had lots of visitors such as humans and dogs, which can be seen by their footprints in the snow. The dog’s footprints were similar to the one of a coyote because they have tracks that are around the same size and have four toes with four claws as well as a heart-shaped pad. A notable way of confirming that they are similar is with visualizing an “X” drawn across the print with the claws included. They also are a walking and trotting animal have a large straddle with a zig-zag pattern.  Dogs scat has a cylinder shape and is pointy just like coyotes, but would not contain pieces of bones due to them eating ground up kibble.


As I walked along the trail I saw tracks off to the side. They seem to belong to a mouse since the tracks are not the same size, whereas the hind feet are larger than the front feet. Another noticeable characteristic is that all four of the prints are together and their straddle is very small showing that they are hoppers due to their tracks being side by side when they are traveling. Also, when walking around one could tell a small animal had been in the area by the numerous fallen pine cones scales being eaten.


Some trees species that I was able to identify where the tall Eastern White Pines, Red Maples, Read Oaks, and White Oaks. Finding identifiable twigs at my site was a difficult process. One of twig that I was able to find was the Pinus Strobus (Eastern White Pine) in the snow. When I took the twig out of the snow to draw my sketch the texture of twig was smooth and bumpy.  The buds on the twig seem to just be forming since they felt very hard. 


Overall my trip back to Red Rocks Park was eventful. The very noticeable changes where that ice and snow where everywhere making it hard to walk on. I can’t even imagine animals walking on these surfaces for they were very slippery. I also noticed that the water near the shore was frozen over and that my area had lost its coverage allowing it to be more exposed to the harsh wind.



The Human History of Red Rocks Park

The Human History of Red Rocks Park

While visiting Red Rocks Park on a chilly December morning the wind stood still and the landscape looked dull, like there no sign of life. There was the smell of the burning wood in the air giving me great delight, but the dead leaves, fallen trees, and broken branches did not. As I walked throughout the park I came across little stands informing me about the history of the park. What I found was that the park contains many White-Cedar, White Pine, Red Pine, and Hemlock as well as over 300 wildflower species. This area also attracts Whistling Swan, Common Eider, and Black Guillemot, and lost of other water birds. Original the park was divided into two different estates the eastern and western. The eastern area was more developed such as having parking lots, picnic tables, a beach, and walking trails. The western area was the complete opposite, it was considered to be natural due to the many trees. During the time period of the late 1700s and early 1800s the land did not belong to anyone, but faced deforestation and agriculture loss. The very first owner of the land was by a man named Edward Hatch where he maintained the land as his private estate starting in 1866. The Hatch estate had lots of activity on the land, even though he did not establish residence there, he created roads made of broken stone to Queen City Park, the neighboring park, that could have carriages travel across, which are used as hiking trails in present times. In the month of September of 1909, Edward Hatch passed away leaving the land to be unkempt and suffered from deforestation. In 1942 the tree species of wolf pine was very noticeable at the time for it grew wide with its branches spreading under the bright sun. Trees and other types of vegetation were brought to Red Rocks such as Eastern White Pines, which is where the trees for my phenology spot came from. However, there was also an industrial development of a parkway occurring the year of 1962. Then in 1970, the ownership of the park was purchased by the city of South Burlington. As the years continued industrialized occurred in 1974 where they made parking lots. There were also postcards ( the two lower images with the lake in them)  made to attack people to come to the beautiful land that the park holds and gain recognition. New tree species to the area such as Red Maples and other hardwood came in 1988. There became a conflict of what the land should be used for some suggest it be used for the light industry, while a UVM professor argued that the land is used for natural resource potential nature center and picnic area. Thankful the land was conserved and is still prospering today with all of the visitors that travel through, even if they are four-legged.                          





The first photo was taken by me. Horse and Buggie. 2 Dec. 2017. Wolf Pine Trees. 22 Sept. 2017. Lake Champlain from Red Rocks. Postcard PSAW ephemera collections. Rock Road Summer House, Red Rocks Burlington VT. on Lake Champlain postmark 1927. Liza Cowan Ephemera Collections

Changes of the West vs. the East

Burlington to Salt Lake City


Aldo Leopold- Comparing the Ecology and Phenology

I left the forested land of Vermont and travel out west to Salt Lake City, Utah. While I ventured out to the area that once used to be the wild west with land uncharted I was in awe of the powder dusted formations that arose from the earth all around Salt Lake City. I felt as though they were so close to me that I could reach out my hand and touch them, compared to Red Rocks Park where the beautiful sights that could be seen where there were the waters of Lake Champlain crashing on the shore or the Eastern White with their trunks stretching towards the sky. At Red Butte Canyon located above the noisy city, I immersed myself in foreign lands nature. This protected land held rare undisturbed riparian ecosystem of the Intermountain West. Every step that I took on the path I made sure of myself not to disturb the vegetation that was growing, for being so high up the flora are very fragile. The area in Vermont that I visited before was not like this new land at all. One did not have to be cautious about where they placed their feet or have such a barren landscape with no towering trees. As I began to gain elevation on the hike I had to pause to behold on a majestic furry moose off in the distance. It stood tall ears turning left and right trying to hear other animals scurrying about or visitors nearby. Large wildlife would never have been at Red Rocks Park the only animals there were grey squirrels, geese, and dogs. I then came to an abandoned historic quarry house made of red sandstones binned together by cement. As I entered the building the floors were frozen over with a thin layer of ice and no furniture or evidence of life could be seen. On the way down the rocky trail, I paid more attention to the vegetation around me for the there were a few Douglas-fir trees, but other branched of trees possessed no leaves looked as though only their skeletons remained. The grass that had a light yellow glow as though the green pigment of life was sucked out of it by the season of winter approaching.

Mary Holland- Pieces, Patterns, and Processes

In Salt Lake City, Utah the Red Butte Canyon is located on the east of University of Utah campus and this canyon, like many others, opens westward into Salt Lake Valley. The elevation in the area is around 6,000 ft and is a protected piece of land. On the land, there is a well-developed riparian zone and a perennial stream that has been preserved. However, in the land’s history, it faced a time where there was an environmental impact. The main reason this occurred was the exploitation of resources in the area since there was water from the stream and a vast amount of sandstone that was quarried for the use of construction. In the past sandstone located Red Butte and in other neighboring canyons was a very popular material for forming buildings in the Salt Lake City area. Rail cars were loaded with sandstone and pulled down the canyon by oxen to into town. One of the buildings that were created using the sandstone was the Fort Douglas at the University of Utah. The water in the area was used for human consumption and was stored at the quarry house and irrigation. As the water was harnessed began to depletion in the streams and with very little rain this lead to diminishing in wildlife species in the canyon. Through harnessing the natural resources in the Red Butte Canyon the Forest Service took over and action in protecting the land stopping the extraction of water and red sandstone.

Google map


All photos in blog post were taken by me

Red Rocks Park in November

Third Visit to Red Rocks Park


As the month of October has ended the last month of fall being November is here. The day I went to visit my spot was in the morning, which had did not have the greatest weather. When I stepped off the bus to enter the park a cold burst of wind had me not wanting to leave the heated vehicle. As I persisted through the cold putting on whatever layer I had brought with me, I entered Red Rocks Park. While walking through the park the path to get to my spot was covered in leaves. Kicking around the leaves on the way to my spot I felt as though I was a kid again enjoying the colorful and fallen leaves that the season of fall brings. Each step I took closer to my spot the sound of crunching followed me. Another aspect I noticed was that the landscape had become quiet where no animals are heard whether they be wildlife or owners dogs, but the only thing that can be heard is the sound of the empty trees blowing in the harsh winds. When reaching to my spot the eastern White Pines were not affected by the harsh winds that occurred in days past, but it caused smaller trees to fall over. I also noticed the waves from Lake Champlain crashing on the shore from high above since there was little coverage by the trees.  While the wind began to settle after some time being at the park I decided to sit in my usual spot, the picnic table located underneath the Eastern White Pines. As I sat there I sketched my map of what my journey had been on the way to Red Rocks Park as well as a short poem about the how I felt about the environment around me.




Its a journey here

The nature all around me

Peace and harmony


All photos in blog post were taken by me


Second Visit to Red Rocks Park

Changes at Red Rocks Park

When visiting Red Rocks Park there were many pine cones and colorful leaves that were covering the ground while the sun was shining through the autumn colored trees making it a beautiful sight to be seen. There were also many families walking their dogs, picnicking, and sailing on Lake Champlain.  However, no grey squirrels were seen looking for nuts or geese heard by the water calling out to each other, compared to the first journey to Red Rocks Park. I tried to look for any birds nests or squires hiding up above in the trees, but I had no luck in finding them. The eastern white pine in my location where still standing tall, but they had lost a lot of their pine needles and pine cones that were once on the trees. The loss of the pine needles could have resulted in less coverage for the animals making them not want to create a nest in the trees. Another reason could be that the change in season from summer to fall will cause colder temperatures to occur making animals either migrate to another location or go into hibernation.  Also, there were two trees a Red Oak and White Oak located to the left in the picture I took where they were changing to an orange-yellow color, which is due to the change in season.









All photos in blog post were taken by me

Introduction to Red Rocks Park

How do I get to Red Rocks Park?

  1. Go to UVM Medical Center take bus 2 (Essex Junction that goes to Burlington)
  2. Arrive at the DTC and take Pine Street bus 5.
  3. Once you have gotten on bus 5 get off at GMT Administration Office
  4.  Then walk 520 feet down on Central Ave. and you will be at Red Rocks Park
  5. When you have seen the sign for Red Rocks Park take a right and walk straight then take a left when trails separate
  6.  Continue walking down the trail until you see a long tree stump on the left.
  7. Take the left turn and continue till you see an open area where many picnic tables are

Why did I choose Red Rocks Park?

Red Rocks Park has 100 acres of land that is located south of Burlington. The park offers many trails that vary in distance and are easy for people of all ages. I was a little hesitant to pick this location since it is far away from campus and takes a long time to get to, but after visiting the park I was thrilled that I chose this spot. One of the highlights of the park is that there are many people walking their dogs on the trail which was great to meet all these furry friends. Another was that you get a view of the water and can go swimming or cliff jumping, coming from the ocean state I missed the water very much. Through visiting this place every other week I hope to gain a sense of place and develop a love for the landscape of Vermont.

Vegetation in Location and Other Observations

From my spot on the picnic table, the land had been mostly cleared, however, there was lots of Eastern White Pines and other types of trees that were closer to the water where White Oak, Paper Birch, American Beech, White Ash, and Red Pine. On the ground, there were tons of dead pine needles and grey squirrels looking for acorns or beechnuts. They also could have been scattering nuts for winter by burying them in the ground. I had a view of the Lake Champlain where the water sparkled in the sun and heard many geese calling to each other.

Google Maps Location


All photos in blog post were taken by me