Laci M. Gerhart Barley

Home » Continental Wood Nitrogen » Continental N Day 7: North Dakota

Continental N Day 7: North Dakota

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 10.17.30 PMStates Sampled: Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri, Iowa, North Dakota
Trees Cored: 110
Total Mileage: ~4700
Total In-Car Hours: ~69

I’m reusing yesterday’s map because Google Maps is now saying our route is too large to map. Oh, Google – you’re SO FUNNY :-/
Just pretend like that blue line stretches northwest from Minneapolis up to the southwestern corner of North Dakota, and then down to the southwestern corner of South Dakota. I know North Dakota isn’t even shown on there, but just imagine it – you know where it is.

The weather has been perfectly cooperative. We hit some dense fog early in the drive, but we’ve had no snow, no rain, and clear roads.

Site 12: Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
So, I’m amazed we made it this far without hitting an real problems. We managed to avoid the weather issues, but ran into something more problematic. Basically, the site we chose (and perhaps ND in general) may not have any usable trees for this project. Specifically, 1) North Dakota doesn’t have a lot of trees period, which I already knew (see forest cover map below). Kansas also doesn’t have a lot of trees and we managed to find some here…. 2) Most of the trees that do exist were planted for winbreaks or property markers, and since we can only use naturally occurring trees, we are even more limited. Again, this I already knew, which is why I chose a national park which would have plenty of naturally occurring trees. 3) The naturally occurring trees are all shrubby and small, with main trunks that are ~10-20 cm in diameter. This is far too small to provide the chronology length we need. And 4) at the specific site I chose, even the shrubby trees were at the bottom of a 30-foot cliff face. We couldn’t have gotten to them even if they were perfect trees.

Map

Forest cover map

The part relating specifically to the site choice is at least partially my fault. If our needs were clear, it should have been obvious to the park biologist I was working with that this site wouldn’t work. We can’t climb down a cliff face into the @$!^#* badlands to sample trees. I also apparently wasn’t clear about the stature of trees we need. Multi-stemmed, shrubby trees with small trunk diameters are useless for this project. The real problem is I’m not convinced that anything better exists there. I’ll have to get in touch with the biologist and see if there are any other potential sites that would be adequate.

I’ll be honest – driving 13 hours today and having nothing to show for it is excessively irksome.

The only upside is that the Dakotas are beautiful. Emily and I had been missing the great plains – the forests and mountains in the southeast were beautiful, but can be a little claustrophobic. I love the site of rolling grassy hills as far as they eye can see. And all that sky! Also, I love midwestern roadside attractions (New Salem Sue, anyone?)

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The other upside was that we had our first opportunity to do a little site seeing. This also means we made it down to the South Dakota site at Wind Cave National Park. We’ll sample there first thing in the morning, then head down to Nebraska, then HOME.

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1 Comment

  1. Kendra McLauchlan says:

    Argh! North Dakota! Hoping you found some (?) trees, but if not I guess we can mark that state off the list. Still… it does sound beautiful.

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