Natural & Cultural Stewardship

Summer of Sustainability and Snapping Turtles

Wed, 06 Sep 2017 14:21:00 CDT  — by: Mary Hannah Giddens and Molly Mueller

We had the opportunity to work with the Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability, alongside some of the Domain's best, in an effort to promote and study sustainable forest management plans through wildlife surveys. The purpose of our research was to inventory small mammal populations, which are bioindicators for healthy habitats on the Domain. This is important for maintaining healthy, biodiverse forests and goes hand-in-hand with sustainable harvesting techniques. Our research took us to every corner of the Domain, and sometimes down the slopes. From deermice to wet chipmunks, docile wood rats, and even a golden mouse, we were able to live, breath, and know the land that has taught us so much.

However, it didn't just stop at mammals. With Dr. Cecala, we conducted salamander stream surveys, surveyed the amphibian drift fence, and trapped turtles. Want to know how to work with a 20-pound mutant snapping turtle? Throw a towel over its face and put a 2 by 4 on its head and pray to God it doesn't snap at you!

With our equipment and some extra equipment from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), we were also able to conduct acoustic bat monitoring surveys to further our knowledge of bat species that roost in our forests and caves. We even had the chance to mist net for bats one evening in Tullahoma! If we learned anything this summer, it is that a bat is even softer than a chinchilla.


All in all it’s been a summer to remember. From becoming “lumber-janes” with our new chainsaw certifications, to encountering rattlesnakes, to surviving downpours on the side of the bluff, or driving around in our favorite work truck, Linda, we have both learned hard field work and life skills from all of those who worked with us.

We would like to extend an endless amount of gratitude to Dr. Amy Turner for making this experience possible and for her support through storms, slimy salamander residue, and timber rattlers nearly biting Mary Hannah. We could not have done it without you!


The Office of Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability

Cleveland Annex 110
(931) 598-1559 |

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