Land Management Interns Help Protect Our Forests

This past summer, we welcomed two Land Management interns, Stephanie Rivera and Lucas Gordon, as part of a joint internship with The Fresh Air Fund. During the eight-week internship, Stephanie and Lucas split their time between the HHLT office in Garrison, Granite Mountain Preserve in Putnam Valley and The Fresh Air Fund’s 2,000-acre Sharpe Reservation in Fishkill, supporting both partner’s land management teams. Their primary role was to perform invasive species inventories, assessment, monitoring and control at both Granite Mountain Preserve and the Sharpe Reservation.

Some of Stephanie and Lucas’s many accomplishments over the course of their internships include:
• Monitoring invasive species pathways of invasion according to the LHPRISM‘s Blockbuster Survey method, which contributed to the scientific research of the spread of invasive species in our area;
• Protecting the new trail system at Granite Mountain Preserve by removing invasive plants that threatened the new trailbed;
• Managing an emerging invasive species, yellow archangel, by removing plants from along a sensitive stream bank at the Preserve;
• Helping the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference Invasive Species Strike Force treat 553 stems of another invasive species, Japanese angelica, also at the Preserve;
• Removing trash to keep the Preserve lands and waters clean and clear; and
• Creating and mapping an inventory of surviving hemlock trees at the Sharpe Reservation for future treatment against the hemlock woolly adelgid insect.

Armed with new knowledge about invasive species management, Stephanie and Lucas also led several volunteer groups of Fresh Air Fund campers and HHLT volunteers in trail improvement and invasive species removal work. They both found working with volunteers to be particularly rewarding: “Not only were we able to remove tremendous amounts of invasive species, but we were able to pass on our knowledge and motivation to a new generation of environmental stewards,” said Lucas. “Hopefully the impact of this experience will inspire some to care for their forests in the future.”

To share the knowledge and skills they acquired throughout their internships more broadly, Stephanie and Lucas produced two educational videos on improving forest health through invasive species management. The videos, one on the common invasive species, barberry, and the other on an emerging invasive species in our area, yellow arch-angel, both demonstrate how people can tackle these invasive plants on their own:

You can also watch and share these videos on HHLT’s Facebook page.

We are tremendously grateful to Stephanie and Lucas for their outstanding work over the summer and wish them both the best of luck in their future conservation endeavors!

We are also grateful to The Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, Inc. and the Jane W. Nuhn Charitable Trust for their generous support of this Land Management internship program, which provides competitive pay to bring environmental career opportunities to a broader and more diverse audience.