On the job.
Stacy L. Carpenter
Wetland scientist, Hancock Associates, Marlboro
Town of residence: Shrewsbury
Native of: North Andover
Time in current job: Six years
What do you do?
"What I do changes on a daily basis. I could do anything from due diligence, researching a site and getting a site history and environmental site history, to wetland delineations, as you see today. I could do municipal representation, taking various projects before town boards and getting permit approvals, as well as designing (wetland) replication areas, mitigation areas, whatever is necessary to assist on the construction job. We also do work with whatever municipal agencies I can in terms of identifying features on their properties. I'll also teach seminars where I can, as well."
What types of features are municipalities interested in?
"Here is a river, but there are almost always wetlands associated with the river, called bordering vegetated wetlands. These are jurisdictional under the state and local laws and regulations, as well as isolated wetlands. Pretty much any wetlands that are out there. Something of particular interest to conservation commissions are vernal pools and vernal pool boundaries. Also, things like endangered species surveys and habitat analysis."
Why are vernal pools important?
"Vernal pools are important because they are a very fragile resource. They are ephemeral and fishless. For the most part they are there in the spring, gone in the summer, and they might be back in the fall. There are certain species of animals that will use these pools almost exclusively for their breeding. If those pools are destroyed, or the area around them is altered, those populations of species can't comfortably survive. It's not so surprising that many of those species are endangered. They're very interested in finding out where those boundaries are and getting them certified through the natural heritage program."
What are the some of the endangered species?
"The poster child is the marbled salamander. But there's also the blue spotted salamander and the yellow spotted salamander. There are also wood frogs, fairy shrimp, various macro invertebrates, pulmonary snails and fingernail clams. Those are really neat."
How did you get into this field?
"When I was 6 or 7 years old my parents bought a summer house on a lake in Maine. The back 40, if you will, contained a large swamp that was part of a larger swamp and stream system that stretched for over 80 acres. At that point there was very little development in the area. Like a lot of kids, we were kicked outdoors, and I spent my days running barefoot through the swamps. I just became obsessed with it, for lack of a better term. A relative gave me an Audubon field guide to mammals. It was over at that point. I went to school at UMass-Dartmouth and started off as an English major, then did a term paper on wildlife that changed everything. I transferred from UMass-Dartmouth to UMass-Amherst and went into wildlife and fisheries conservation, graduated, then I was hired out of college for my wildlife skills. It's been an intensive apprenticeship of sorts.
What is the best part of your job?
"Being out in the woods. It's like I'm 7 years old again, running around in the woods. I get to see the tracks on the ground, I get to see the way the water flows, the way trees grow, the way light refracts off ice and snow and makes things gold, whatever. It's just beautiful."
Does the public have any misperceptions about what you do?
"I like to put it that no one likes to see me coming. If you're in it for warm fuzzies or confidence building, then this probably isn't the place. Conservation commissions have changed a lot since I started. There may be a few who would classify me as the developer's friend. And just the same, some developers think of me as the conservation commission's friend. When you get a relationship with both of them, the misperceptions fall away."
What's the worst part?
"I don't like having cold toes. I don't like seeing 3-foot-tall fields of poison ivy. I'm not a big fan of ticks, because ticks bring Lyme disease. But, hey, every job has its own occupational hazards."
What have you learned from doing this job?
"Every site, every landscape, has a natural history writ upon the plants, soil, water and wildlife. My job is to communicate the natural history to all interested parties, such as developers, municipalities and fellow scientists, and guide them in subsequent action. On this job I learned how to effectively communicate vital information across diverse business platforms and ideologies."
Compiled by: Business reporter Martin Luttrell
To have or suggest a job profile, send information to Bob Kievra, Telegram & Gazette, Box 15012, Worcester, MA 01615-0012, or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
CUTLINE: Wetland scientist Stacy L. Carpenter spent her childhood summers running barefoot through swamps, and the rest is history.
PHOTOG: T&G Staff/TOM RETTIG