Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fall Research Wrap-up

After two months, 37 hikes, and overcoming rain, snow, and a dead car battery, the fall 2012 field observation season is officially over!  The only thing left to do this year is one final hike on each mountain to download data from the loggers and remove my flagging, which should happen early next week.

For weeks now, people have been asking me if it was winter yet in New Hampshire, and I would always respond with, "not quite, but I have graphs showing how close we are!"  No one ever wanted to see my graphs =(

Now that we (myself, along with undergrad assistants Heath and Cotter) have finished collecting data the winter will be spent doing data entry, crunching numbers, and trying to figure out what this all means.  Over the course of my hikes, I've met a lot of nice and interesting people and I'm excited for work to begin again in the spring!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

PSU Students Building Sustainable Garden Shed for Community Gardens

In fall of 2011 students of Plymouth State University’s first Sustainable Structures class engaged in the natural building process by researching, designing and building an “eco” shed for the Eco-house on campus. Steve Whitman, environmental planner and permaculture instructor, and Bryan Felice, a long-time and experienced timber framer, lead the class. In hopes of offering the class again in the Fall of 2012, Bryan sought out a client in need of a community building. Audrey Eisenhaeur, the Executive Director at the Margret and H.A.  Rey Center in Waterville Valley, NH contacted Bryan after seeing the product of the first Sustainable Structures class. From there the discussion of building a community shed for the gardeners of the Rey Center’s Mary Bierbrier Community Gardens began.

Initial design of sustainable shed for the
Mary Bierbrier Community Gardens.
This fall the students in the class have been working to design and implement a shed that has multiple functions on site in Waterville Valley. The shed will provide safe storage, water catchment system, potting sink, community bulletin board for communication and natural materials. The shed provides an educational component for the Waterville Valley Community by being a demonstration site of natural building techniques. The students will engage on a hands on learning process where they learn natural building techniques such as timber framing, board and batten siding, cordwood siding, live edge siding, wattle and daub, and slate roof installation.

A natural building is labeled as one because of the materials and processes used through the design. Natural materials include those that are regionally available or harvested, minimally processed, non-toxic and biodegradable. Natural buildings range from a small shed to a multiple story timber frame house for a family or business. Natural building is a feasible strategy for constructing buildings that have long-term financial rewards and a low impact on the environment which is a smart sustainable option.

The students encourage anyone to come visit the site next to the Curious George Cottage located on Noon Peak rd in Waterville Valley. Look for updates on the project on the Facebook page Rey Center Shed Fall ’12. Students are breaking ground towards the end of October. Workdays will be Monday and Wednesday from 2:00 until 5:30 pm with hopes of completion by the beginning of December.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

2012 Fall Astronomy Festival

The Rey Center took part in the 2nd annual New England Fall Astronomy Festival in Durham, NH on September 22, 2012. We were one of many exhibitors.

At our table families created their own constellation. Marshmallows were scattered on the night sky (black construction paper) and then replaced with little star stickers. Then the participant used their imagination to connect the stars to to make a constellation. Over the course of the day many unique constellations were created like mosquito, Rudolph, snake, house, and penguin to name a few.

 The Rey Center also led the "Rescue of Andromeda" skit twice during the day. This "walk through" skit involves everyone in the crowd. Actors are chosen from the audience and they have an action that they do every time their character's name is mentioned in the story. This is a fun way for people to learn about a few constellations that can be seen in the autumn night sky. There was lots of laughter during the skit and many people commented on how much fun they had.

The governor of New Hampshire has officially named the weekend of September 21 and 22, Astronomy Weekend. The Margret and H.A. Rey Center was mentioned in the dedication as one of the participants. We look forward to this event next year!

If you are interested in astronomy, we have programs throughout the year, like our monthly Dark Sky Stargazing nights. Check out our event calendar at for details.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fall colors on Welch Mountain

Fall colors in the area are spectacular right now, even more so in the rain. Or so it seems to me. Yesterday, I spent some time on the ledges of Welch Mountain with Environmental Science and Policy undergraduate students from Plymouth State University. The students ventured to the expansive ledge area you first encounter about 1.3 miles from the trail head that leads to the summit of Welch Mountain. Despite overcast skies threatening rain, they hiked to learn about the outcrop plant communities that inhabit the ledge and some of the research methods we are adopting to monitor the long-term health of these plants. Up to 5,000 hikers may visit the ledges in a given summer. This summer we spoke to almost 1,000 hikers about the plants that live there and about the importance of staying on the trail to help protect them. When the students and I were finished with our visit on the ledge, I let them head on down before me. Alone, I enjoyed another moment or two in the kaleidoscope of fall colors breaking through the mist. 
- Kim Votta, Rey Center Research Coordinator