Intern Journal: Riley

The Squam Conservation Internship provides skills and experience for future conservation professionals while working as the driving force behind the SLA’s conservation mission.  This volunteer internship provides hands-on conservation work experience and certifications over a broad range of activities.  Interns serve as campsite hosts and caretakers at our backcountry campsites, work toward the eradication of variable milfoil, help preserve loon populations on Squam, engage both youth and adults in environmental education, and perform other conservation duties such as shoreline restoration and trail maintenance and construction. Squam Conservation Interns also regularly write about their experiences in the Squam Watershed. Learn more about the internship program here.

July 15, 2017


Last week, Alice, Becca, and I joined our Volunteer Coordinator, Brian, for a day of trail work in the area surrounding Mt. Livermore. Much of the area is old growth forest, meaning that many of the trees are over a century old. It’s quite an incredible feeling to hug a tree which has a circumference that is most certainly three times one’s wingspan. But what I found most impressive from an ecological standpoint were actually the sections of new growth forest that we hiked through that day. As we lopped, cleaned water bars, cleared blow-downs, and re-blazed on Old Mountain Highway, a trail that the SLA maintains, Brian informed us that this trail was the original Route 113. This truly fascinated me, as today it is quite difficult to imagine the trail once existing as a highway. The path, once overrun with houses and farms, is now overrun by new growth trees and foliage.

The only real sign of the old highway is a graveyard adjacent to the path’s early stages. Certainly this graveyard used to be well trafficked and well cared for, as the lettering on most of the stones, from as far back as the 1820’s, can still be made out. But now it rests overgrown and lonely, the last remaining symbol that this area once had an entirely different look and purpose. This, I believe, will be one of the biggest takeaways from my work with the Squam Lakes Association: that with proper care and minimal human impact, ecosystems can recover. The land in which you tread whilst enjoying an SLA trail most likely used to be clear-cut for grazing. It is a tribute to nature’s resounding resiliency that we are able to enjoy the Squam region as it exists in its green glory today. And in truth, it is because of hard work done by organizations like the SLA that we are able to observe this resiliency first hand, on trails that flaunt this area’s ecological prowess, while also keeping human impact to a minimum.

Riley is from New Jersey. He is a rising sophomore at Bowdoin College in Maine and plans to major in environmental studies and political science. Click here to read Riley's bio.