One of the hydrologists working on the project essentially gave me a tour of the area and explained the goal of the project, any background information, what they have done thus far, and what their next steps are. It was a nice change of pace since I usually work in an office. This was a restoration project with the goal of restoring what is now a meadow to its previously wetland environment. There are aerial photos of the meadow from ~25 years ago showing beaver ponds and dams that flooded the area. There are still beavers in the area, but no longer in the meadow. This is partially due to the absence of the willow tree, which they used to build their dams. So, part of the project is planting more willows and fencing off the area so other animals can’t eat them before they get the chance to mature. The other part of the project involves flooding the meadow using strategically placed (temporary) structures. The idea is to create an inviting environment for the beavers to want to come back into the area and maintain the wetland again.
This fellowship has also given me the chance to travel to amazing places I have never been! I was just recently in Texas visiting Big Bend National Park for an annual committee meeting. The park itself is located about ~4 hrs from the nearest airport, so it is very isolated. The park is very worth the trip! The sky was so dark, and the stars were so bight at night I was able to see the Milky Way for the first time! Although we spent most of our week discussing important workplan and agenda items, my favorite day was our float trip on the Rio Grande. We spent the whole day on a portion of the designated WSR section of the Rio Grande in canoes, also something I had never done before!