I feel that since I have spent the past 9 months constantly exploring my place, I feel I am just an integral part of this landscape just as much as the northern white cedars and the black capped chickadees fluttering around them are. I have seen with my own eyes how Oakledge transforms with the weather and seasons. I have had the pleasure of discovering countless species of wildlife and understanding their niche in this micro-ecosystem that exists from a more urban setting of Shelburne. I feel that as I continue my time here at UVM, that I will return to Oakledge with a different perspective than most. As oppsoed to going for a bike ride or maybe a swim, I will take a minute to revist my area and see if I find something I missed before or maybe something that brings back old memories.
Understanding that Oakledge serves as a park, for people to get out in nature, is the best way to explain how society and the environment are intertwined at my place. Outdoor recreation such as hiking, bird watching, nature photography, fishing or even just going for a walk are ways in which we see people interacting with their landscape, immersing them self in the environment that Oakledge has to offer.
Over spring break, I had the opportunity to stay in Sanibel in Southwest Florida, and chose to use Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge as my place away from Oakledge.
The park was established by Jay Norwood Darling, in an effort to block the sale of a parcel of environmentally valuable land to developers on Sanibel Island. At Darling’s urging, President Harry S. Truman signed an Executive Order creating the Sanibel National Wildlife Refuge in 1945. Currently, approximately 2,800 acres of the refuge are designated by Congress as a Federal Wilderness Area.
The refuge was renamed in 1967 in honor of the pioneer conservationist. The refuge consists of extensive mangrove forests, submerged seagrass beds, cordgrass marshes, and West Indian hardwood hammocks.
The refuge was created to safeguard and enhance the pristine wildlife habitat of Sanibel Island, to protect endangered and threatened species, and to provide feeding, nesting, and roosting areas for migratory birds. During my visit, I had the chance to see several of these species such as crested cormorants, white pelicans, roseate spoonbills, herons, egrets, etc.
Since my last visit to Oakledge, the site has taken on a fresh, spring-like, look. Despite the brutally cold temperatures, Oakledge has appeared to endure the early stages of a seasonal shift. Song birds can now be heard in the tree tops as well as the occasional Koww of a crow. Also, much of the snow that coated the ground has receded, leaving the ground damp and saturated. Also, the Lake Champlain, directly adjacent to my place, has taken on a new look as there are remnants of ice that must have formed in the bay however, that too is looking as though its deteriorated recently.
After taking note of the natural communities mentioned it Wetlands, Woodlands, Wild lands I have come to better understand the type of ecosystem that would classify my place. Based on this information I believe that my place would fall under two distinct classifications. On one hand, it could be considered a hardwood based on the major deciduous trees present (sugar maple and red oak), as well as an abundance of evergreens (eastern white pines and northern white cedars). However, I have read extensively that is Oakledge is classified as a “cedar bluffs” region in Vermont, whereby the northern white cedars that border the lake’s edge are considered a significant environment as a habitat for wildlife such as song birds, grey squirrels, and eastern cottontails.
- Red Maple
- Red Oak
- Yellow Birch
- Sugar Maple
- *most of the trees in my place are predominantly conifers, not nearly as many disiduous trees