Happy New Year from Taylor Wilderness Research Station!
The fall season here at Taylor was far busier than we expected, with a wide variety of visitors and active projects.
In September, we enjoyed a visit from the University of Idaho’s Fish Ecology 314/315 class, led by Brian Kennedy, assistant professor of fisheries resources. Shortly afterward, we welcomed the U.S. Forest Service Lead Working Group, comprised of representatives from the Selway-Bitterroot Foundation and the Payette, Salmon-Challis, and Bitterroot National Forests, who met at Taylor to discuss possible collaborative research efforts. Several teams from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Marine Fisheries Service also visited Taylor this fall, both for their annual electroshocking and tagging work and also for maintenance and improvements on their in-stream antennas, which will be upgraded in 2011.
In late September, we flew to Michigan to represent Taylor at the annual meeting of the Organization of Biological Field Stations. While Taylor is among the smallest stations represented in OBFS, it’s one of the few field stations with ready access to an enormous, pristine wilderness. Our new solar and hydroelectric systems are on the cutting edge of sustainable field station design, and information about its development was eagerly received.
The IDFG screw trap was pulled for the season on November 13, having operated for 191 days this year and capturing over 32,500 fish since March. We also concluded phenology observations for the winter in early December and were proud to hear from the National Phenology Network that Taylor is now in the top five percent of observers nationwide! We’re looking forward to our third year of phenology observations in 2011.
We owe a great deal of thanks to two different CNR clubs, who volunteered their help at Taylor this fall. The CNR Logger Sports Club sent four of their members to Taylor in early October to assist in the production of Taylor’s winter wood supply. Members bucked, split and stacked 13 cords of wood for Taylor’s cabins in only three days! They were followed shortly afterward by six members of the CNR Range Club, who assisted us in insulating the newly-repaired main water line for the winter, and in moving residual pasture rocks left over from the installation of new underground electric cables in June. We are incredibly grateful for their assistance.
The weather at Taylor has recently been cold and clear, allowing us to get a stunning look at the lunar eclipse on December 20-21. Despite our minimal exposure to direct sunlight at this time of year, we’re happy to report our new solar panels are still performing very well. We often hear coyotes and owls at night, and small bands of elk and bighorn sheep are in frequent view across Big Creek. Rabbits and ermine are in their white winter coats; tracks are everywhere, and we sometimes hear the thump of a flying squirrel landing on our cabin roof. Big Creek is packed tightly with drifts of ice along its banks, which provide helpful resting points for dippers. Although human activity has definitely slowed down for the winter on Big Creek, animal activity is as busy as ever.
Tyler Morrison and Amie-June Brumble
Taylor Wilderness Research Station Managers
January 5, 2011