Forest Training and Monitoring Plot
A one hectare plot located in a forested area on the Northeast side of the Keshena campus of the College of Menominee Nation (CMN) has been established to conduct various types of natural resource fieldwork. The tree species composition on the plot includes a variety of mixed northern hardwoods with a conifer component of Eastern White Pine, Eastern Hemlock, and Balsam Fir. A “hectare” is a unit of surface measure equivalent to 10,000 square meters, or in U.S. measurements, 2.471 acres. There have been three primary educational tasks conducted on the plot during “installation”, which was primarily the summer months (June, July, and August) of 2013 and 2014. The first of these was to delineate the outer boundaries of the plot area by using survey monuments, compass, tape measures, and “line-of-sight” to map and mark a 100 meter “square” following the north and east property lines. This process used many techniques that are termed “orienteering” in some outdoor disciplines. Once the square was created, it was then further subdivided into 25 – 20 meter square subplots called quadrats or “quads”, which is the basic unit of measure for mapping. The second educational component was to learn the Richard Condit tree census protocol, which is a methodology for conducting an inventory on all living trees over 2.5 centimeters within each quad. The final learning task was to conduct an assessment of herbaceous plants other than trees within the plot. This task was led by Mr. Richard Annamitta, a local botanist familiar with the plants in this area.
To date, the 100 meter by 100 meter research plot has been used mostly as a training site to teach the Condit protocol, which includes procedures for measuring, identifying, tagging, and mapping every woody stem with a diameter at breast height (DBH) of over 2.5 centimeters. Diameter at breast height is 4.5 ft. above ground level or approximately 1.3 meters. This data collection will serve as the base-line to many future projects. The possibilities are endless. Data could be used for any purpose the Menominee Tribe, Menominee Tribal Enterprises, or CMN may have. This data was collected with the intention of a re-census to occur within the next five years.
A future re-census of the plot will allow for an in-depth look at how the forest evolves over selected time periods. This can provide insight for determining and predicting what species will grow, while also characterizing mortality. Also, with the climate changes that are predicted to occur, there are a lot of open unanswered questions as to what this forest may look like in the years to come. Whether or not the trees that are currently growing here will be able to sustain the changes is still unknown. Some will win and some will lose. Other trees may also “migrate” (move locations) to follow the climate variations that suit them and influences if and how they survive, compete, and/or flourish.