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This is an overview of our plan for the semester, as of January 21. Stay tuned for updates, new developments, and additional (short) handouts as we
pursue topics that particularly interest us as a class.

Date Logistics Location Agenda Read/do for next week

January Meet in Allen 104. Classroom and Introductions, policies Heinrich (start it); Kricher and Morrison ch. 1-3 pp. 1-62: “How to
21 Alicia and Heather. Lone Rock and logistics. Geologic Use This Book,” “Forest Field Marks,” and “Eastern Forest
Point, history of Champlain Communities” (you can SKIM all lists); Wessels ch. 7 pp. 128-149:
Burlington. Valley. “Topography and Substrate.”
January Meet in Allen House Kingsland Bay, Meet some trees. Heinrich (why not try to finish it?).
28 Parking Lot. Heather Charlotte. Natural communities.
and Alicia. Winter walking.
February Meet in Allen 104. Classroom and Keeping a field journal. Kricher and Morrison ch. 5 pp. 250-268: "Adaptation" and ch. 7 pp.
4 Alicia. your field final Explore field final site 424-457: "Nature in Winter"; as always, skim lists.
site with your with your team.
February Meet at first Centennial Observing a place Wessels ch. 3 pp. 62-77: "A Study in Stumps"; handout by Siccama
11 Centennial Woods Woods, you’ve seen a million(“Presettlement and present forest vegetation in Northern Vermont
kiosk on Carrigan Burlington. times. with special reference to Chittenden County,” American Midland
Dr. Heather. Naturalist 1971).
February Meet in Allen House Watershed Managing a community Wessels ch. 2 pp. 40-61: “Of Junipers and Weird Apples”; Kricher
18 Parking Lot. Alicia Center, Bristol. forest. and Morrison ch. 4 pp. 154-248: “Disturbance and Pioneer Plants”;
and David Brynn of as always, you can quickly skim the parts about particular species.
Vermont Family
February Meet in Allen House Colchester Succession. Finish up Heinrich if you haven’t done so already; handout by
25 Parking Lot. Pond, Foster et al. (“The Environmental and Human History of New
Heather. Colchester. England” from Forests in Time by Foster and Aber).
March 4 Meet in Map Room, Bailey Howe Research your field Wessels ch. 1 pp. 22-39: “The Age Discontinuity.”
basement of Bailey Library, Map final site with your
Howe Library. Room and team in the Map Room
You’re on your own Special and in Special
this week! Collections. Collections.
March No class! Enjoy Spring Break!
March Meet in Allen House Sunny Hollow, Sand plain forests and Wessels ch. 5 pp. 98-111: “Abandonment”; ch. 4 pp. 78-97:
18 Parking Lot. Alicia. Colchester. the effects of fire. “Nectria”; ch. 6 pp. 112-127: “Pillows and Cradles.”
March Meet in Allen House Snake Big trees. Beavers and Wessels ch. 8 pp. 150-165: “Forests of the Future”; Kricher and
25 Parking Lot. Mountain, perhaps a floating bog Morrison, Ch. 6 pp. 269-319: “Patterns of Spring” (skim lists).
Heather. Addison. if time.
April 1 Meet in Allen House Little River Human settlement
Parking Lot. Alicia State Park, history.
and Heather. Waterbury.
April 8 Meet in Allen House Field Final Second visit to field Prepare next week’s field final presentation and your personal
Parking Lot, in your sites, in your final site with your research presentation.
Field Final groups. groups. team.
April 15 Meet in Allen House Field Final and Teams present their Prepare for final exam.
Parking Lot. Heather Final sites to the rest of the
and Alicia. Presentation class. Final
locations, as a presentations.
April 22 Meet in Allen House Final Finish final
Parking Lot. Alicia presentation presentations as
and Heather. locations and needed. Final exam.
April 29 Meet in Allen House Lake Iroquois, Spring ephemerals or
Parking Lot. Heather Williston. vernal pools walk,
and Alicia. weather depending.

Landscape Natural History, ENVS 173

Spring 2010 · Alicia Daniel and Heather Fitzgerald

Welcome! This field course is designed to acquaint you with many of the landscapes around you in the Champlain Valley. We will consider these
landscapes both in winter and in spring. We will spend time tracking, looking at bark and buds, and exploring a variety of landscapes from fire-
adapted forests to limestone bluffs. Even as we become more comfortable identifying different plant and animal species, we will also be looking at
patterns of their distribution on the land. Why would we go to look for a mink near water while a search for red oaks may take us to a dry ridge? Our
explorations will take us into the air to follow the flight patterns of woodpeckers and below our feet as we consider the bedrock and soils of each
place we visit. While this course focuses on the exchange of information, we invite you to enter each of these places with an open heart, enjoying the
beauty and connection to nature that have drawn us together.

If you ever have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Heather and Alicia both prefer to be contacted, believe it or not, by their
land lines (before 9 pm). Heather’s is 802-863-6411; Alicia’s is 802-862-4734.


1. Learn the basics of geology, geomorphology, soils, plants, and wildlife of Vermont winter and spring landscapes.
2. Learn to identify some of the patterns created by environmental gradients such as elevation, soil moisture, pH, and soil particle size, as well as
those created by human and natural “disturbance,” including logging, fire, and agriculture.
3. Discuss the processes that shape a landscape and learn a timescale for the major events (ancient oceans, ice ages) that have created the
landscapes we see in New England today.
4. Increase your confidence in using tools of the trade--everything from field journals to plant keys, binoculars to hand lenses.
5. Meet people who work as professionals in the woods and hear their perspectives on why they love to be out in winter and spring and what
they focus on during these seasons.


Class Participation (10%):

1. Arrive at the Allen House parking lot (across the street from the Bittersweet) ready to analyze landscapes each Thursday at 1 pm. We will
begin class business right at 1 and depart no later than 1:10. Warm hats, boots, coats and mittens are essential. We will spend time standing,
smelling, looking, listening, not just hiking, and it is easy to get very cold. Bring a snack and/or lunch and be prepared to be out for five hours
in all weather.

2. Complete the relevant reading assignment prior to each field day. The readings have been selected to maximize the amount of learning that
takes place in the field. Readings will be selected from other books, journal and magazine articles and handed out the preceding class.

In addition, there are three required texts that you will be asked to read cover to cover:

1) Kricher, J. and G. Morrison. 1998. Eastern Forests. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

2) Wessels, T. 1999. Reading the Forested Landscape. Woodstock, VT: The Countryman Press.
3) Heinrich, B. 2003. Winter World. New York: HarperCollins.

You will also be expected to become comfortable using your fourth text, the key
Forest Trees of Maine. 2008. Maine Forest Service Department of Conservation.

3. Spend an additional 2 hours of outdoor, nature-focused time each week. Yes, you can be on X-country skis, but your focus should not be on
skiing. It is a time to deepen your understanding of the natural world.

A few other notes about participation:

1. Each week will build upon what we’ve covered before, so if you’re behind you won’t get as much out of the field time and it will be
doubly hard to catch up. Because this is so important, if an assignment is turned in after it is due you’ll lose a letter grade for each
business day it is late.
2. This is a field- and discussion-based course, and you can’t really make up field time or discussions. And each four hour class day is
equivalent to more than an entire week of a traditional course meeting every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Therefore, please don’t
take this course unless you can make a commitment to attend all of the classes. Please arrive on time, and please notify one of us in
advance if you know you are going to miss a class. Although you will not “lose points” directly for missing a class, we have noticed that
students’ grades often suffer after missing a class because it is so difficult to make it up.
3. It is your responsibility to come and talk to us about what you need to do to make up any field/class work and assignments that you miss
because of absences.

Field Notebook (50%): You’ll be responsible for creating a field notebook. It will be illustrated, regardless of your artistic abilities or comfort level.
(That isn’t what matters most!) Illustrations can range from event maps and diagrams to watercolors of birds and trees.

The parts of the field notebook are:

a. A two-page synthesis of each day’s field events with illustrations! There will be 10 field days.
b. A section devoted to responses to the required readings. These will be Wow! light bulb moments (at least two per chapter) in response
to Wessels, Heinrich, Kricher and the other assigned readings.
c. Your individual research: a more detailed exploration of something we touch on this semester. You might choose to explore a specific
plant or animal species, a process, a site, a historical aspect of New England forests….
d. An accounting of how you spend your two hours of extra field time each week.

A good check to see if you are approaching the notebook in the spirit we seek is to ask yourself whether you delve further when you don’t understand
something, rather than avoiding it. Please also note: in general, it will not be necessary for you to use outside sources; the assigned readings will be
plenty. However, should you turn to an outside source, we will of course expect you to cite it.

Individual Research (10%): Your final presentation can be inside or outside and will be 10 minutes devoted to your individual research.

Final Paper (10%): In your final (2 to 4 page) paper you will be asked to answer the question: How has your perception of winter, spring, or the
landscapes around you changed during this semester?
Field Final (10%): For your field final you will investigate a site in a small group and present your findings to the rest of us in a 20-30 minute

Final exam (10%): The final exam will consist of an oral quiz covering important concepts we have covered over the semester plus a tree
identification practical.