Hi! My name is Ms. LeSage, and I am a 4th grade teacher at the Marymount School of New York. Join me as I discover the wildlife trails of the American West!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Snow, snow, and more snow!

Today we measured the snow depth across the entire study area of Red Butte! You may be wondering why on earth anyone would choose to do such a thing, so I'm going to tell you now.

For the past seven years, scientists have been studying the movement of ungulates or "hoofed animals" through Red Butte Canyon in an effort to design more effective wildlife corridors. A wildlife corridor is basically a fancy name scientists came up with to describe routes or paths that animals must take in order to get from one protected place to another. While there are many national parks and reservations throughout the US, many are simply not large enough to accommodate the ranges necessary for large mammals to survive. Because of the constant development surrounding protected areas in our ever-growing country, it's becoming increasingly difficult for large mammals to find enough space to live in. That's where wildlife corridors come in to play. Ungulates happen to be the easiest mammals to study, as they create very obvious paths in their travels, and Red Butte Canyon has an abundance of moose, elk, and deer (all of which are ungulates). That's why scientists chose this location as a study site.

Since ungulates flee from humans, the best way to study their movement patterns is by marking their tracks and studying the factors that contribute to the places they choose to go. Snow depth is one of the most critical factors, as deer don't travel through snow deeper than 40cm and elk don't travel through snow deeper than 60cm. This can present a huge challenge if snow at depths exceeding these numbers stands between ungulates and their food source. That's why we had to measure the snow depths of areas both with tracks and without tracks today. And guess what? All of the deer tracks were found in depths under 40cm!


At January 26, 2010 at 11:18 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting I've learned something for today. Hope that my sock suggestions helped. Angela

At January 27, 2010 at 9:37 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Ms. LeSage,

Your wonderful descriptions and pictures are bringing Red Butte Canyon into our classrooms and offices! We are all learning from your experience. Thank you! And stay warm.

Susan Johnson

At January 27, 2010 at 9:48 AM , Anonymous Martha E said...

I am sorry that I haven't been able to attend the Skype sessions (my class met at those times); I've heard they have been great. I'm so interested to learn about ungulates (that's a new word for me!) and snow depth, and I'm so impressed with your trekking through the snow. I will look forward to hearing / seeing you tom'w when students in class XI history class skype with you. They have recently studied the history of the American West, and you are there helping to preserve the ecology of that historic area.

At January 27, 2010 at 12:11 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ms Zammarano
Hi, here I am with Class IV-3 and we are going to blog today. Happy web logging...

At January 27, 2010 at 12:26 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lier IV-B
hi ms. LeSage! how is the weather in Utah? do you get really tired after the day of hiking? It looks like you are having a lot of fun with the comments that you posted. You taught us a lot about the wildlife. I hope that you have fun during the rest of your trip and learn a lot!

At January 27, 2010 at 12:28 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Helen IV-B
Hello Ms. LeSage!
Are you enjoying your trip? I would love to go hiking if I were you.
Now I have a mathematical question for you!
How much of the land do the ungulates have to live in since the people are taking up so much room, and the snow is rising?

Your Lovely Student,

At January 27, 2010 at 12:30 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ms. LeSage,
How is it going, hope you are finding alot of wildlife and weren't to cold. When we were doing skype with you it was really cool that you saw some wild life already.
from Natasha Class IV!

At January 27, 2010 at 12:32 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eloise Class 4-3

Hi Ms. LeSage! We miss you. I love the pictures you have posted, I wish I was there! I can't believe the snow was up to your knees! I hope you are having so much fun! The question I am going to ask is what temperature was it when you went on your hike today?

At January 27, 2010 at 12:33 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ms.Lesage I hope your having a great time there in Utah. It must be exciting hiking up mountains and seeing wild life.
When you find a trail how do know that it is from a deer
or another animal?
Have a great time!
Dalia IV-B

At January 27, 2010 at 12:34 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi ms. LeSage,
Are you having a nice time? I can't wait to see you next week and hear all your exciting stories! At the end of the day are you really tired? Have you seen any more wildlife and if you did what's your favorite? Are you going to go snowboarding in Deer Valley at the end of your trip?
most sincerely'
warmest wishes
Samantha IV-3

At January 27, 2010 at 12:35 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amelia IV-A

Hi, Ms.LeSage,
How is your trip so far? It looks like a lot of fun. Did you see any wild life besides the deer so far? (they looked very cute). It is very cool that you get to go hiking in the mountains and make wild life corridors!!!!!! I hope you enjoy the trip!!(:
P.S. did you see a bobcat yet?(:

At January 27, 2010 at 12:36 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Serina IV-A

Hi Ms. LeSage, I can't believe the snow was up to your knees! You look like your having so much fun in the picture. My question is did you have a hard time walking through it or was it soft and fluffy : ). I also want to know are there any animals you are expecting to see?

At January 27, 2010 at 12:37 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ms. LeSage! I miss you! Are you enjoying your trip? Have you seen any more wildlife after the mule deer? If you did, then what is it? It must be so hard to walk with the snow all the way up to your knees! I really wish the snow in my country house would go up that high!
See you soon!

Class IV-3

At January 27, 2010 at 12:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Charlotte W. IV-A
Hi Ms. Le Sage
I hope your having fun!
I liked hearing about the how you saw the 12 deer on skype yesterday.
Did you see any different animals today ?
If you did, which one did you enjoy seeing the most ?
How's the hike compare to walking the New York City Blocks?

At January 27, 2010 at 12:38 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Miss Le Sage,
It looked really hard for you to walk though the snow. Why didn't you bring your dog with you? It would be cool to see your dog in the snow. I wish I was there. I can't want to see you.
From: Naomi class IV-3

At January 27, 2010 at 12:40 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alexie IV- A

Hi Ms. LeaSage I was wondering what the weather was in Utah? Did it snow again? Is the snow higher?

At January 27, 2010 at 3:28 PM , Blogger Kelly LeSage said...

Dear Ms. Johnson,

Thank you so much for your kind words. I'm glad that both the faculty and students of Marymount are able to learn from my experience here. I know that I've learned far more than I ever could have imagined, and I'm only on my third day!

Ms. LeSage

At January 27, 2010 at 3:30 PM , Blogger Kelly LeSage said...

Dear Ms. Erskine,

Thank you also for your encouraging words! I look forward to "seeing" you tomorrow morning during my Skype session with Class XI :-)

Ms. LeSage

At January 27, 2010 at 3:52 PM , Blogger Kelly LeSage said...

Dear Ms. Zammarano and all of the lovely girls in 4-3,

I was THRILLED to come home today to find all of your questions and comments! I'm going to try to answer all of them now.

As for the weather, it's mild here. Today was about 35 degrees and sunny. We have received some flurries since I Skyped with you yesterday, but not enough to make any significant accumulation. Because the temperature is so mild here, the level of snow is actually decreasing, which makes hiking easier so I'm not complaining! It is definitely challenging to hike through snow that often goes even higher than my knees. It feels light and fluffy to the touch but not when you're trekking through it! So yes, I do get tired after hiking!

Regarding the question on trail identification, our scientist taught us how to determine what type of wildlife left the trail based on the shape, size and depth of the print. However, it can be a little tricky sometimes, so he has to help us out!

The only other wildlife I've seen is a Golden Eagle (please tell Mr. Moore his binoculars came in handy), but I've seen prints of several types of wildlife.

I hope I've answered all of your questions. I miss you all too and loved Skyping with you yesterday :-)

Ms. LeSage

At January 27, 2010 at 4:51 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ms.Lesage
During the skype session you told us a little bit about a GPS and I dont know exactly what information it gives you.I would like to know a bit more about the GPS's
HOPE your having fun!
Dalia IV-B Group 3

At January 27, 2010 at 5:17 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ms.LeSage!
What types of wildlife have you seen so far? Where have you snowboarded? Where is your favorite place you have gone to so far?
-Sheila M. V-B

At January 27, 2010 at 6:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi MsLeSage! How has your trip been? It looks like so much fun! I miss you and can't wait to skype with you! In the picture, it looks like there is so much snow! but you never said how much snow you got so i was wondering how many inches it snowed.

love, Amelia R. class V-B

At January 27, 2010 at 6:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ms. LeSage

Have you seen a Bobcat yet?
What is the temperture in Utah?
How is Utah different from New York?
Where is Marley???????

-Mel C

At January 27, 2010 at 7:13 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ms. LeSage,

Its so great to read about the fantastic landscape and the important work you and your team mates are doing out there. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us.

Ms. Fischer-Daly

At January 27, 2010 at 7:27 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Work Ms. LeSage. The pictures and information you have posted are terrific. And what an important research project to be involved in- important for the wildlife in Utah but conceptually valuable to wildlife throughout the world- especially as the rest of the world continues to develop and such a rapid rate.
Keep up the good work- I know your making Marymount Proud!!

Mrs. Seshadri

At January 27, 2010 at 8:59 PM , Blogger Kelly LeSage said...

Hi Dalia,
Great question! GPS systems are used by hikers to mark "way points," which are basically points that help them find their way back home! When a hiker is traveling with a GPS he/she can mark where they're going every 10 meters or so, and the location will be stored. This way the hiker can move about the woods freely and then find their way back home using the way points stored in their GPS. It's basically a battery-operated, highly sophisticated compass!

On my expedition, we also use GPS's to record locations of ungulate tracks, areas of vegetation, and areas of varying snow depths. I can explain in more detail during Friday's Skype :-)

Ms. L

At January 27, 2010 at 9:01 PM , Blogger Kelly LeSage said...

Hi Sheila,

I've only seen Mule Deer and a Golden Eagle, but I've seen the tracks of many different mammals. You can try and guess some of their tracks in my new posting! I am not snowboarding while I'm in Utah, as my time is dedicated to my Earthwatch study and I am way too tired after hiking all day long to go at night!

Ms. L

At January 27, 2010 at 9:03 PM , Blogger Kelly LeSage said...

Hi Amelia,
I miss you too! There is definitely a lot of snow in Red Butte Canyon. At the bottom there is under a foot, but at the top there is nearly 3 feet! I look forward to Skyping with you on Friday as well :-)
Ms. L

At January 27, 2010 at 9:06 PM , Blogger Kelly LeSage said...

Hi Melanie,
Today's temperature was 35 degrees, which was perfect for a day of hiking. I have not seen a bobcat yet, but I may or may not have seen tracks....you'll have to guess by looking at the photos I posted on today's blog! Marley is at my parents' house in Massachusetts playing with his cousin Bob the English Bulldog :-) You can tell Naomi that dogs aren't allowed to participate in Earthwatch expeditions, since she had asked about it!
Ms. L

At January 27, 2010 at 9:07 PM , Blogger Kelly LeSage said...

Ms. Fischer-Daly, it is my pleasure! Thanks for joining in on yesterday's Skype :-)

At January 27, 2010 at 9:09 PM , Blogger Kelly LeSage said...

Ms. Seshadri!!! I'm ecstatic that you read my blog, as you are the teacher/friend who inspired me to do this :-) Thanks for your encouragement, we miss you!

At January 28, 2010 at 7:37 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi ms .LeSage how are you ?I am going to try to awnser your qustions I think #1 is a deer track and I think #2 is a bear

thanks for answering Kirsten class 4-B

At January 28, 2010 at 7:52 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ms LeSage,
How are you? I think this is the answer to your question I think number one is a deer track and number two is a bear.

Love Kirten class 4-b


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