Conservation Journal: Connor

The Lakes Region Conservation Corps (LRCC) is an AmeriCorps service program that develops skills and experiences for conservation professionals. LRCC members are the driving force behind the Squam Lakes Association’s conservation efforts. The program provides hands-on conservation work experience and numerous certifications over a broad range of areas, which ensures that LRCC members are capable of independently approaching a variety of tasks in the environmental conservation field. Members remove invasive species from the Squam watershed, manage and act as caretakers at our backcountry campsites, maintain the SLA’s 50+ miles of trails, educate the public on local and regional conservation initiatives, spearhead reports on conservation efforts, lead SLA volunteer crews and ensure the daily functioning of the Squam Lakes Association’s programs. Click here to learn more about the LRCC program.

April 2, 2018

Connor

As the weather is balancing between above and below freezing between daytime and nighttime, respectively, New Englanders are becoming crazed with Maple Sugar Madness, a diagnosis I made up as a Midwesterner. It’s a great time of year to utilize one of nature’s blessings for the process of collecting sap and making syrup, and this year in particular seems to be great for this activity. This past weekend, the Squam Lakes Association, Squam Lakes Conservation Society, and Lakes Region Conservation Trust put on a Maple Sugar Day event at Burleigh Farm to celebrate the wonder and beauty of all things maple sugary. It was a great day to showcase all of the effort that goes into processing sap into syrup. There was plenty of maple sugar tasting that left me wired for the better half of the next day. While I was at this event, I kept thinking to myself, “Why haven’t I been more involved with this before?” I certainly had the opportunity while I was in college in Minnesota; I could have even taken a single credit course titled “The Natural History of Maple Syrup”. While I complain about this, I should say that I actually have had the opportunity to make maple syrup two springs ago, through the generosity of our Executive Director, EB James. I guess I’m just a little sad that I don’t do enough of this. I have Maple Sugar Madness envy.

Another side of the weather effects around New England this time of year deals with mud, probably my least favorite thing about spring. The magical atmosphere of winter is withering away and being replaced by soft, mushy, muddy aspects of early spring. This is an important time for us as a conservation organization to get the word out about environmental sustainability, especially for our trails that we maintain. Around this time of year, the trails become very fragile and delicate, as the ground is very soft and there still are some icy patches where the snow had been packed down from previous hikers. Seeing partial ice on the trails, hikers will want to walk around those areas to get to their destination. However, when people walk off of the trail boundaries when the ground is soft and muddy, it begins to pack down and close up the spaces between all of the living matter under the soil. This prevents the surrounding vegetation to acquire the necessary amount of nutrients from the soil that they need to thrive. Above ground, the trail path begins to widen and more rocks and roots become exposed, leading to erosion. Due to the nature of this issue, the SLA closed its trail last week and is encouraging the public to stay patient so that our trails can stay in good shape for future public enjoyment. Visit our page to learn more about this. In the meantime, I will be lamenting as the snow disappears and the temperatures rise.

Connor is from Sioux City, Iowa. He graduated from Saint John’s University in Minnesota with a degree in Biology. Click here to read Connor's bio.

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