GEOG 332: Management and Preservation of the Natural Environment

Field Trip & Course Information - Fall 2012
UPDATED May 16, 2011
James Hayes-Bohanan, Ph.D.

I look forward to teaching this course in Fall 2012, with the same wonderful field trips.

Two required field trips -- Dates TBA

The primary purpose of this web page is to keep students who are enrolling in GEOG 332 informed about  the required field trips, which are detailed below and which are absolutely essential to the course. An additional purpose is to give an overview of the course for students who may be considering it.

The formal title of this course is accurate but a bit of a mouthful. I prefer to describe it as a course in land management. The course readings encompass ecology, law, and philosophy. The course field trips put students in direct contact with landscapes that have been managed in a variety of ways and that have evolved in interesting ways as a result. I draw on my academic background in physical geography and political ecology, my experience as an environmental consultant and as a board member in a local land trust, and my training as a certified Massachusetts Conservation Commissioner. Guest speakers in the field and in classroom bring expertise in forest ecology and related topics that is well beyond what I can bring to the course directly.

An earlier syallabus is here for the convenience of those who are considering the course. The texts to be used in the Fall 2012 course might vary somewhat, but the general outcomes of the course will be consistent with the way I have taught the course over the past dozen years or so.

This course looks like a lot of work -- and it is! The pace of the work is reasonable, however, and the benefits are substantial. At annual meetings of the Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissioners, I am always pleased to see many students who have completed this course and who now work as environnmental consultants, volunteer conservation commissioners, or professional conservation agents. This course is not solely responsible, of course, but it certainly helps students students to gain useful perspectives on resource and land management.

Two day-long field trips are required for this course; an optional trip to Walden Pond may also be scheduled. Both major trips will take place on Saturdays, starting early and ending late. Guests are welcome on a space-available basis.

The dates shown below are those that I am requested from the host facilities. I try to go when the guides I mention below are available, so some adjustment might be necessary. The ecologists I have gotten to know at each site have made incredible contributions to student learning in the past, so I work around their schedules. Please keep checking this site to see final dates, which I will confirm as soon as possible. Please contact me at or (508) 531-2118 if you have any questions about the trips.

Incidentally, I have a near-perfect record of picking weekends with optimal weather and peak foliage at both sites.

Marsh Billings

The Pogue and the Mount Tom Forest Marsh Billings National Historical Park

Tentative: A Saturday in mid-September
Leave campus no later than 6:30 a.m.
(You don't have to be awake, just here!)
Return in the evening, possibly stopping at Quechee Gorge on the way home.

Marsh-Billings National Historical Park is the only national park to focus on conservation history and the evolving nature of land stewardship in America. Opened in June 1998, Vermont's first national park preserves and interprets the historic Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller property in Woodstock, VT. Learn more about the property from my encyclopedia article. Our guide is usually ranger and forest ecologist Scott Davison, who hikes the property almost every day, even when he is not working.

The fall 2006 semester will mark the seventh time I have taken students to Marsh-Billings; I went one additional time with my family, a few months after the park opened in 1998. I know of no better place to learn about the history of different ideas of conservation in the United States. We will explore art, architecture, agriculture, and the biographies of three very intriguing and important families. We may also visit the adjacent Billings Farm and Museum, which is one of the earliest models of many practices for sustainable agriculture.

We will leave between 6 and 6:30 a.m.(no later!) and return around 9 p.m. Bring four dollars for admission, a lunch to eat on the property, and a few dollars for coffee on the way up and pizza, sandwiches, and/or beverages on the way back.

Wear layers of clothing and sturdy shoes!

For more about the Vermont landscape, take a look at the Orton Family Foundation web site.

hflane.jpg - 39263 BytesHarvard Forest

Tentative: A Saturday in October
Leave campus at 7:30 a.m.
Return late afternoon

Harvard Forest is located in Petersham, Massachusetts, northwest of Worcester and north-northeast of Quabbin Reservoir. The director of the forest is David Foster, the author of one of the required texts for this course. We are usually guided by Dr. John O'Keefe, a frequent co-author with Dr. Foster.

Since its establishment in 1907 the Harvard Forest has served as a base for research and education in forest biology. Through the years researchers at the Forest have focused on silviculture and forest management, soils and the development of forest site concepts, the biology of temperate and tropical trees, forest ecology and economics and ecosystem dynamics.

Bring a lunch to eat on the property, and a few dollars for coffee on the way up and for sandwiches and/or beverages on the way back.

Wear layers of clothing and sturdy shoes!