Living Lab – Outdoor Recreation

From Pam Wright

Finding Shelter - ORTM205
Finding Shelter - ORTM205

ORTM 205 Outdoor Skills and Leadership is a new, required, class in UNBC’s Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Management program designed to introduce students to a wide range of outdoor field skills and to explore some of the fundamentals of outdoor group leadership. With the assistance of a UNBC Undergraduate Experiential/Service Learning grant, the ORTM 205 students had the opportunity to expand their explorations beyond the UNBC environs and get out into the field. Early in the semester we took two trips out to the Aleza area. Our first trip was a fall camping trip where we experimented with setting up a minimal impact base camp – all the more challenging for the group because it rained like crazy the whole time. Turns out this was a great group dynamics challenge for the students who excelled at keeping everything dry while keeping spirits high. In addition to some basic camping skills we had a great navigation (map, compass and GPS) workshop around the site of the new Aleza field centre and hiked the South Knolls trail. The group discussed a range of outdoor recreation and outdoor education activities that could be done in the area.

Ready for a quick decent
Ready for a quick decent

Our second trip picked up where the rainy trip left off – climbing at the nearby Giscome Rock, a 15 mins drive from from Aleza, with instructors from OverHang climbing gym, an amazing climbing resource right next to Aleza Lake Research Forest the rock wall overlooks Giscome lake providing a superb area to learn and practice climbing for every skill level. For next year we have a third trip planned: winter camping out on the research forest – it’s a perfect setting for building quinzhees, snow caves, snowshoeing and cross country skiing.

Living Lab – Silviculture

Day 1 - In the Fireweed of a young forest
Day 1 - In the Fireweed of a young forest

As I look back on my own university experience the days that I remembered most were the days that we got out of the classroom and actually got out to the forest.  It was those times that we walked amongst the trees,  young or old, and discussed issues of forest ecology, applied management (i.e. silviculture) that were great times of influence.  It was moving from the theory of the text books to the reality of woods!

This last semester Mike Jull and I had the privilege of hosting UNBC’s third year Silviculture class taught by Scott Green.  Four very full days with the students literally walking through the life cycle of forests as we challenged students to take the theory and explain it in reality a few core topics included:

  • Site ecology identification and classification
  • Site limiting factors
  • Key stages of stand development
  • Forest Condition and Health – current and future
  • Site Index
  • Professional Reliance
  • Management Options
  • Integrating multiple forest values

This is one of the things that makes the UNBC Natural Resources Management and Forestry Ecology programs so good.   Lab time is rooted in reality – not locked in the lab; the application of theory can be discussed with faculty and professionals who are actively engaged in forest management.

-Colin Chisholm RPF
Assistant Forest Manager