As the leaves start changing color here on Big Creek, we stop to reflect on another great research season at Taylor!
The summer started out with a very significant change. Managers/scientists Jim and Holly Akenson, who managed and lived at Taylor for 21 years, moved on to other things. Holly is now the director of the Wallowa Mountain Institute in Enterprise, Ore., and Jim is the executive director of the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. Jim and Holly's contributions to the growth of Taylor and its generations of students are beyond measure, and they are greatly missed.
We were happy to see the return of Amber Lankford, a University of Idaho 2008 DeVlieg Undergraduate Scholar. Amber, who had previously conducted nesting surveys of Lewis' woodpeckers on Big Creek, returned as a Berklund Scholar to work on her 2010 project, "Bird Abundance and Diversity in High-severity Post-burn Riparian Areas on Big Creek and its Tributaries." Amber also assisted DeVlieg Ph.D student Teresa Lorenz for the first season of her three-year study, "Resource Selection by Cavity Excavators Following Fire."
Two research undergraduate students also joined us this summer. Elise Otto, from Whitman University, and Will Stauffer-Norris, from Colorado College, surveyed Big Creek and many of its tributaries for their summer studies on large woody debris and its role in creating fish habitat.
Idaho State University student Matt Schenk, another DeVlieg Undergraduate Scholar, joined us this summer for his project, "Investigating Relationships Between Flow, Bed Mobility, and Stream Organisms: Steps Toward Predicting Climate Change Effects in Tributaries of Big Creek, A Wilderness Watershed of Central Idaho." Matt not only looked at stream invertebrates, small fish and amphibians in tributary streams, but also deployed more than 100 PIT-tagged rocks into the streams. He will then use radio telemetry to track these rocks and make estimates of bed movement on Big Creek.
Perhaps our most personally significant project of the season belonged to University of Idaho master's student Justin Schlee. Justin not only replaced our 13-year old microhydro electric generator with a more efficient model, but also installed two solar panels in our lower pasture, increasing our on-site power generation eightfold and greatly reduced our dependence on our gas-powered generator. We are very excited about this big step in making Taylor a "greener" place and also hope our greatly decreased use of the generator will help preserve the "wilderness experience" of visitors and passing recreationalists.
Finally, we were very grateful for the help of our 2010 assistant manager, Landon Moore. Landon first came to Taylor in 2008 as a research assistant to graduate student Ben Hoppus, for his study on whitebark pine.
We've also had several short-term visitors. We were glad to meet University of Idaho President Duane Nellis and wife Ruthie on their first visit to Taylor in June, along with the new CNR Dean Kurt Pregitzer. Brian Kennedy (CNR) and Colden Baxter (ISU) both visited Taylor this summer with students. Jim Pope and Janet DeVlieg Pope made their annual visit in late July and met our students. We also had several field crews from NOAA, the USGS and IDFG.
As fall approached this year, our students gradually departed to return to school, but we remained busy with our various agency visitors. The weather has started to turn cool and the leaves of the ninebark have already flushed red. We've begun putting up the winter's supply of firewood, but without the aid of horses or mules for the first time in over a decade. The spots on the summer's fawns have started to fade, and the grouse chicks are nearly grown up. It's been a season of change for us, but we're looking forward to new challenges too.
Amie-June Brumble and Tyler Morrison
Taylor Wilderness Research Station Managers
August 31, 2010