Telstar Freshmen, Camden Watvous, left, and Evan Parsons measure and record a birch tree. They spent the morning working with a Dartmouth College environmental science student and her professor at Buck’s Ledge in Woodstock. Rose Lincoln/Bethel Citizen  

WOODSTOCK — Students from Telstar Freshman Academy hiked Buck’s Ledge early Monday morning to measure trees.

One of the groups was led by Dartmouth College senior, Hannah Jarvis, who was wearing a tiny witches’ hat (a nod to Halloween) and was carrying, not a broom, but a DBH stick. The stick’s height, 1.37 meters, is the place on the tree where the students  would be measuring the circumference of the trunk.  DBH stands for Dominant Breast Height, but “for me it’s chin height” explained the 5-foot 2-inch college student.

Besides DBH, the students recorded: the species of the tree (the students found birch, black cherry, oak and beech), whether the tree is the dominant tree in the area, for instance, “what is the relationship this tree has to other trees in this quadrant?” asked Jarvis.

Finally they measured the tree’s vigor, “a one is for alive and healthy. Then you have your dead trees that you could probably push over. Don’t do that,” instructed Jarvis. She and three of her classmates had set up forest quadrants the day before. They are part of a larger group of 10 Dartmouth students, living and researching in Bethel this week

Karen Bieluch, of Bethel, Jarvis’ Environmental Studies professor, asked the Telstar students, “why do we care about the DBH height?” Michaela Mowery correctly responded, “It’s where the most carbon is stored.” Bieluch again, “And why do we care from a scientific standpoint?”

“So we’re getting the same data points,” responded Camden Watvous.


Following the data gathering, the Telstar students will meet with the Dartmouth students to think about the next steps, since the Telstar students will return to work on this project for a full year. The professors, Bieluch and her colleague, Flora Krivak-Tetley, will ultimately present their findings to the Woodstock Conservation Commission at Woodstock Town Hall.

Telstar Freshmen, Michaela Mowery, from left, Nevaeh Buck and Halea Monelt with Karen Bieluch, Dartmouth Environmental Studies professor, look toward the canopy to determine which tree is dominant at Buck’s Ledge in Woodstock. Rose Lincoln/Bethel Citizen  

Buck’s Ledge is part of a broader study Bieluch and Krivak-Tetley are doing with their Dartmouth students on forestry ecosystems. At Buck’s Ledge they are specifically exploring carbon storage estimates and carbon credit scenarios. As they develop the project they may also include ecosystem services estimates or public/stakeholder opinion surveys or education materials.

Buck’s Ledge Community Forest is 634 acres, including Buck’s Ledge, Lapham Ledge and the summit of Moody Mountain. The Town of Woodstock maintains the Route 26 parking lot. A new trail from the Woodstock Elementary School allows educators to use the space as an outdoor classroom for younger children.

The Community Forest Committee has raised $175,000 in private funds along with significant grant money to, in August, secure public ownership and conservation of the property.

Jane Chandler, chair of the Woodstock Conservation Commission said, “Open Space Institute gave us a significant grant specifically to monitor for carbon sequestration, carbon growth for climate change. We had to guarantee that a certain amount of the trees are going to be allowed to grow. That’s what our purpose is — a forever forest for all.”

Bieluch and Krivak-Tetley first wrote to the Woodstock Conservation Commission in June of this year asking for the collaboration. “Our goals with this part of the program are that students not only learn from people who live and work in forest communities, but that they also contribute their expertise to address questions in those communities. Whatever projects we settle on, we want them to be valuable to the Conservation Commission, while also helping contextual these local and global issues that the students will be studying.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.