Geography Club visits the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest!
Needing a late in the spring term break, several members of Geography Club packed up and headed for the hills. We visited the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest to receive a brief tour about the kinds of research that happens and to just wander around an old growth forest. While we had high expectations, I think that we were all blown away by how cool the place is.
The forest is a series of watersheds that have experiments that track the ecological and biophysical changes under different logging regimes. The experiments have been going on for many decades and have contributed significantly to the understanding of how logging impacts different kids of environments.
More recently, with the significant technological advancements in measuring things has expanded in things like carbon monitoring, hyporheic flow (water flowing sub-surface, and under what conditions plants absorb water. The details were amazing. For instance, in the one watershed we visited, we learned it takes three years for water that falls at the top of the hills to make it to the stream at the bottom (maybe 1000 feet).
We also saw the latest and greatest carbon-monitoring equipment that measures how much carbon is released at different heights, helping determine more concretely what types of processes and plants emit carbon. We also saw a field with hundreds of scattered logs of different types that were part of a decades-long study on wood decay.
After our tour, we hiked through the old growth forest. It was quite steep in places, but we had a blast breathing in the scent of the forest, noticing that all the rhododendrons in the woods were pink and the ginormous trees! It was so relaxing.
We will be making this an annual trip!