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Forestry field trip was no walk in the woods

Spring break wasn”t a vacation for a group of the College”s recreation resources management majors – even though they spent the week in the beautiful Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, located between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley along the Kentucky/Tennessee border.

It was a work-and-learn experience for the nine undergrads and graduate student Nicole Milandri, who led the expedition to the 170,000-acre recreation area. The area is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Their guide on-site was LBL customer service manager Brian Beisel, a 1981 graduate of the CALS recreation resources program, which is based in the Department of Forest Ecology and Management.

Each day began with an overview of a management topic — including environmental education, customer-based decision-making, and management of fire, trails, vegetation and cultural resources – provided by Beisel or one of his colleagues. Then the students were off to the field to apply what they had learned. They constructed a fire line, cleared debris around a cultural site, helped mitigate damage from motorized vehicles, planted trees and worked on an archaeological survey.

The trip gave the students real-world experience with many of the challenges that come up in managing a major developed recreation area. That includes some sticky ones, like how to balance the demand for motorized recreation with impacts on the resource, and how to cope with limited budgets and staff.

Okay, it wasn”t all work. They were able to spend free time hiking, canoeing and sitting around the campfire. Favorable weather and home-cooked meals from the camp kitchen staff topped the week off for everyone.

Some of the students may return to the area to take advantage of LBL”s internship and apprenticeship programs.