July 2, 2011
Since I had been regularly waking up before seven for the past couple of weeks I had no problem hopping out of bed with plenty of time to spare before the 10:00 am Saturday at the Lab, an open to the public outreach program run by Wrigley. Losing track of the time, I suddenly realized I was going to have to hustle to make it to Wrigley on time. Fortunately I had borrowed one of the Specialized mountain bikes, available at Wrigley, donned the requisite safety gear and hit the dusty trail, literally. The ride to Two Harbors, though uphill, was able to be taken at a leisurely pace and was quite pleasant. Unfortunately, being in a rush had quite a different effect on biking uphill on dirt roads. If I stood while going uphill the rear tire would spin without my weight pressing down on it and the downhills were rapid, causing me to fishtail both a harrowing and thrilling experience as I would take a couple of the hairpin turns along the road to Wrigley. Eventually I arrived at Wrigley in one piece, parked the bike and stopped by the office to talk to Sean Connor, Wrigley Manager, and met up with Sabrina and Alex. He talked over the general plan of Saturday at the Lab, gave us a cheat sheet to reference during the tour if need be and introduced me to Cheryl, a graduate student studying bacteria and protists who has been giving tours on Saturdays for awhile, and Wei, a graduate student joining Saturday at the Lab for the first time.
Once the visitors assembled Cheryl gave a history of the Wrigley facility and discussed the research focus of the facility. She then led everyone into the lecture room where she discussed her research of bacteria, including her worldwide travel and the shocking statistic that there are more bacteria in the ocean than stars in the sky. After fielding questions, Cheryl led the group through the lab facility discussing who can research at the facility and the benefits of having a Marine Protected Area right next to the lab. The tour then went to the touch tank, which the kids definitely loved, especially the “dancing” leopard shark. After the touch tank Sabrina, Alex and I gave a short discussion about island chaparral ecosystems, invasive species [with a piece of fennel for display] and our work as trail-builders. The tour ended at the Hyperbaric Chamber, a place to treat dive injuries run by USC and LA County. Karl Huggins gave the tour of the facility and is the director of the hyperbaric chamber and worked towards the development of the HUGI dive tables so that divers would not need to visit a hyperbaric chamber. Saturdays at the Lab are very informative and the people that come to Wrigley all seem to be very knowledgeable people looking to learn a little bit more about marine science and Catalina Island.
For more information on Saturday at the Lab click here.
June 20, 2011
Today we had the opportunity to work with Chris Baker, president of ACE (American Conservation Experience) and an expert on sustainable and low-impact trail design. He gave a short and very engaging and informative presentation to the interns as well as Conservancy staff, Travis from Howland’s Landing educational camps, and Ashley, the Nature and Conservation Director of Boy Scouts Emerald Bay on the principles of sustainable trail design. The 3 golden rules of trail design he covered were 1) Do No Harm 2)Complement the Landscape 3)Erosion Abuses the Landscape all of which he liked to sum up as “Think like water!” Chris discussed if you think about the purpose of the trail and the type of hikers that will visit, the design should match their needs so that they will use the trail instead of wandering around the general area. Since water can be such a damaging factor to a trail a large portion of the talk was dedicated to guidelines regarding slope, such as the Half Rule “the trail grade should be no more than half the sideslope grade” [Trail Solutions, IMBA 2004] and full bench construction, all the exposed soil on the trail is hardpack. He then trained us on the use of clinometers, a sighting device which provides information on degree or percent of a slope. We practiced estimating slope, then went to the Deer Valley Watershed right next to the WIES campus and set about designing the trail. The process ended up being considerably difficult, democratic and ultimately very rewarding. We would establish control points, areas of interest that we would like our trail to visit, then use the clinometer to determine the slope, look about, re-determine the slope, and debate about the best route for the trail. If we concluded that the trail would be successful, both for people hiking and with regard to impact on the ecosystem, we would put down a trail marking flag. Some areas were pretty obvious as to the direction we would go and others would be very difficult requiring us to fan out and follow game trails, some of which required crawling through. It was a tough day of work; just the beginning of the process of designing our trail but it was a great day and Chris Baker is very knowledgeable and passionate about his work and we were lucky that he was able to come out to Catalina to help us design this trail.