This week, the Applied Ecology and Sustainable Systems classes went on a brief field trip to a burn area about a mile from the Conserve School property. The burnt red pine plantation was the site of an 80 acre wildfire that was ignited when lightning hit a nearby power line in May of 2012. Students were asked to read the landscape around them while walking through the burn area, keeping their eyes and ears open as they padded along on a bed on pine needles. Science teachers Robert Eady and Andy Milbauer facilitated discussions on how fire can change the character of a forest, ways to determine the path of the fire based on burn scars left behind, and what exactly those crunching, cracking, gnawing noises surrounding the group could be. The “heartbeat of the forest” was, in fact, thousands of long-horned beetle larvae, also known as pine sawyers, excavating tunnels in the red pine wood. Check out the video on Robert’s teacher page to hear and see these noisy little critters!
– Graduate Fellow Maria Kopecky