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James W. Sewall

 

Timber company using 3D technology to locate important forest habitats

Greenville - Hidden within Plum Creek timber company's Moosehead Lake Region Conservation Easement is an unknown number of water masses called vernal pools.

Plum Creek wildlife biologist Henning Stabins said, "[A vernal pool] is only temporary. It is there perhaps through mid-summer and then dries up and importantly, it does not have any fish and therefore all the amphibians, the frogs and the salamanders that breed in that pool, can breed successfully without the predatory fish."

These amphibians are an essential part of the food chain and destroying their habitat would be dangerous to the ecosystem. That's why Plum Creek wants to know where these vernal pools are.

Because their land covers 360,000 acres, they hired Sewall Company in Old Town to fly over the area and use infrared photography and 3-D imaging to help locate them.

"There were 3,700 potential vernal pools identified on this easement area. We mapped them, I pointed to each one, I took a GPS reading off them," said Lyman Feero, wildlife biologist and photo interpreter at Sewall Company.

From there, foresters and biologists go check it out.

"That gives us our first sort of course filter approach to finding the pools and then we can follow up on the ground where the remote sensing points us," said Stabins.

If what they find is actually a vernal pool, then Plum Creek knows that area needs to be protected. And when it comes time for forest harvesting and other projects, these aquatic breeding areas won't be harmed.

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