Human History

Centennial woods is a natural area which is managed by the Environmental Program of UVM. The woods are filled with hiker and dog friendly paths for casual hiking. This allows for a lot of human traffic throughout the woods. However, this 70 acre wooded area was not always like this. In the 1800s and early 1900s, the woods were cleared for agricultural use. There is plenty of barbed wire that remains from the agricultural history of the forest. During this time, the timber industry was a prominent part of the Burlington economy, so perhaps the trees where logged and sold, as many other trees were during this time period. The woods have been able to grow back in the past years. It is evident that the forest is not an old growth, but a rather new growth because of the past history of deforestation at this site. Birch trees and eastern white pines are both pioneer species and are plentiful in Centennial Woods. Eastern white pines are also known to grow in where old agricultural land and hay fields used to be. This helps suggest that the land was cleared and used as some kind of agricultural area. I have noticed that there are a lot of fallen paper birch trees, which would make sense as the short life span of the original new birches as well as the second birches that grew after deforestation is coming to an end.

Map of Burlington, From UVM Special Collections



UVM Libraries Research Guides: Centennial Woods Natural Area: Home. (n.d.). Retrieved December 06, 2018, from

The Changing Landscapes of Centennial Woods Natural Area: A Field Guide [PDF]. University of Vermont Natural Areas. University of Vermont Environmental Program,


Animal Signs in the Snow

In addition to the plant life I saw at Centennial today (check out my last post!) I also found a lot of evidence of wildlife and animals!

First, I saw damage to multiple tree trunks and bark. At first I suspected diseases or insect infestations, but these damages could also have been caused by mice or cottontail rabbits.

I also found multiple tracks in the snow. I saw many human and dog prints, which were easily identifiable.

Suspected dog tracks.

I also found some tracks which were harder to identify. I used my mammal tracks and scat identification booklet to try to figure out which mammals were roaming Centennial.

I decided that the the tracks are those of cottontail rabbit.  

Cottontail rabbit tracks.
Cottontail rabbit tracks.


Ferns, Moss, and Fungi!

Today, December 6, 2018, I visited my phenology spot. It was very cold and snowy, with the temperature being around 28 degrees fahrenheit. Despite the slippery slopes in Centennial, I made it to my phenology spot! It took me a little longer than usual due to the ice coating of the paths and boardwalks.

The icy path.

At my spot I discovered some new nature that I have never noticed before. First, on a fallen birch tree I spotted some white mushrooms. I had difficulty identifying this species of mushroom. At first I guessed it was a birch polypore, mostly because it was growing on a birch tree. However, after closer inspection I realized my mushroom was flatter and whiter than the birch polypore. Also, I researched more on the birch polypore mushroom, and they mature in September and it seems unlikely that the birch polypore will still be alive in December. Perhaps it is an oyster mushroom, but those normally do not survive in the winter either. I think further observation of these mushrooms would be necessary for me to correctly identify it, but I think my best guess at this point is an oyster mushroom. This reminded me of the mushroom I saw on the fallen birch in my Belmont blog. 

Mushroom growing on a fallen paper birch tree.

I also noticed the ferns in my phenology spot. Even coated in snow they still retained their green leaves. This is makes me think that they are perhaps intermediate wood ferns, the most common fern type in New England and also evergreen fern.

A suspected intermediate wood fern.

Lastly, I saw some moss and lichens growing on multiple trees.

Moss growing on the side of a tree.