Blog 8. The Highlight Reel

It’s hard to believe I’m already sitting here reflecting on the summer that has come and gone too fast. When I first received the phone call from the woods manager here in Hinton requesting an interview for this position, I remember feeling like moving up here was simply not an option but I am so glad I did; I can’t imagine my life without this experience in it.

There were many highlights this summer, whether it was the interesting and diverse work I was involved in, developing life-long friendships, or exploring the Jasper and Hinton areas. As usual in life, these highs were accompanied by a few lows, like the sudden passing of my roommate in July, and the wildfires affecting my hometown of Williams Lake. It sure wasn’t easy being so far from my family and home while dealing with it all, but luckily everyone in Hinton was incredibly supportive and made the dark times a little bit brighter for me.

I want to share on a couple highlights of the summer that I haven’t already blogged about as a final tribute to summer 2017. Please enjoy!

Image 1. Kate Lindsay (left) is a biologist for FPAC, who I had the pleasure of meeting while she was on a Caribou-focused field tour in Hinton. I was able to join on one of the tours (pictured here) where we looked at the effects of different types of stand thinning on lichen production. She and I were also able to sit down and have a career focused meeting over lunch, with her giving me incredibly insightful advice as I move forward in my career and life.

Image 2. I’ve wanted to learn to fly fish for a few years now, so I finally went and bought a set-up. This was my first day on the fly and I caught a little Arctic Grayling (huge thanks to my co-worker, Grant, for coaching me through my casting this day)! I’ve always been passionate about limnology, ichthyology, and being on the water, so it’s safe to say that fly fishing is my new passion project and a perfect fit for me!

Image 3. Evening fly fishing at Emerson Lake with my supervisor Laura and our co-worker Wade.

Image 4. I know I’ve already shared lots of ‘exploring’ adventures on my blog, but this one is certainly worth mentioning, because it was one of the best days of my life. My co-worker, Ryan (you might remember him from previous blogs), and I did the Berg Lake trail all the way to Robson Pass in one day! The trip is 46km total. It takes you through the most beautiful scenery Mount Robson Provincial Park has to offer.

Image 5. I had the opportunity to go out with the herbicide program and watch the application of aerial spray. This is just one of the many Silviculture techniques used to management none-crop species such as aspen or grass that tend to take over a site and minimize the crop tree growth. The division I used to work for didn’t have a herbicide program so this was a unique learning opportunity for me. I have so far been impressed with the research and safety behind this technique and it was really interesting watching the helicopters work.

Image 6. Conducting Trumpeter Swan (TRSW) surveys with Laura. We spent 4 days in August visiting lakes in the Forest Management Area (FMA) that have been previously known to be occupied by Trumpeter Swans, a species of concern in Alberta. West Fraser has special management areas around these lakes and the lakes are surveyed every year to track the swan use.

Images 7 & 8. In addition to ground surveys for TRSWs, this year Laura decided to expand the survey program with a general overview flight in the helicopter to reassess all the lakes where swans might be. We flew for about three hours and covered a huge portion of the FMA, sighting 11 swans.

Lastly, I want to share some neat experiences I had viewing grizzly bears this summer. Surprisingly enough, I only had one run in with a bear this summer in the field and I saw very few from my truck. However, I was fortunate enough to witness a couple very cool moments with grizzlies! I’ll post two videos with this blog. Now, I love bears, but I wouldn’t want to find myself in a situation on the ground like in either video!

Well, it’s time for me to shift focus and power through this final year of school. It’s been wonderful having the Forest Products Association of Canada and everyone who followed my adventures on this blog a part of my summer again. Of course, I’d like to extend a huge thank-you to West Fraser for this awesome opportunity and for running such a great summer student program. Summer 2017 has been the best experience of my life so far. Thank you everyone who was a part of it.

Signing off for the last time,

Syd

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