Site Visit to Appomattox Courthouse

This past week, in line with Independence Day and a patriotic week, Jeff, Margie and I took a site visit down to Appomattox Courthouse, the location of the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, led by General Robert E. Lee, to Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865, signifying the end of the Civil War. Prior to the trip, I had been preparing field maps consisting of site features, topography, orthographic images, and vegetation points to better track our data and information when out in the field. The purpose of the trip was to catalog and update the 1994 and 2007 vegetation data the park had supplied to the Olmsted Center previously. This new information will then be utilized in the creation of an existing conditions site map for Appomattox Courthouse – and the beginnings of the Treatment Implementation Plan process – in line for next year’s celebration of the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the re-union of the nation.

2014-APCO-NW Core – an example pdf of a working field map produced for the site visit

Because I am a Virginia girl, I took the opportunity to visit my family and friends in Northern Virginia the weekend prior to the trip. So I met Jeff and Margie in the Richmond Airport on Monday morning and away we went – destination APCO. It was great to drive through a part of my state I had never experienced before – this south-central area of Virginia characterized as the Piedmont with rolling hills, driving closer and closer to the Blue Ridge Mountains – my home for five years while getting my undergraduate degree at Virginia Tech.

We arrived at the National Historical Park and began work. Using 1994 maps and the field maps I had prepared, we went tree by tree cataloging data – scientific name, common name, DBH, conditon, location and other notes. We had about a hundred acres of park to cover in three days, with a vegetation table of 276 plants, so we were busy and worked hard through the hot, humid Virginia heat to get the existing conditions of the park documented, from which to create the map. I became rather good at guessing the DBHs of the larger trees – maybe just rookie luck. Margie was our measurer and plant IDer, Jeff would catalog the data and assess the condition in the vegetation table I had prepared with information from the park, while I would map on the aerial the location, plant ID number, and whether it was still existing or had been removed. It was great team work that made the work go quickly, as we hopped from tree canopy shade coverage to tree canopy shade coverage, in efforts to stay as cool as possible.

Rolled hay and surrounding forest edge and hedgerows in APCO

Rolled hay and surrounding forest edge and hedgerows in APCO

My favorite time of day was first arriving at the Park around 7 in the morning, when the sun wasn’t too hot yet but created the most magical lighting across the park and the historically rehabilitated structures throughout the park, with the birds singing and rangers beginning to open up shop. Next trip back is planned around October, can’t wait to see the park in peak fall color – there are lots of red maples! Time to get back to work in the office getting maps together and doing edits to the vegetation table!

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