What to Expect on a Field Day

This page contains information and resources to answer questions and help you prepare for a Bark field day. Bark’s fieldwork falls under two broad categories: groundtruthing and wetland surveys. Groundtruthing includes walking areas being planned for a timber sale, monitoring areas after they’ve been logged, and documenting recently burned areas of the forest. Wetland surveys include wetland mapping surveys, beaver habitat surveys, and wetland monitoring trips.  If you have questions that aren’t answered below, feel free to email Misha, Bark’s Forest Watch Assistant, for more information. 

Signing up for Field Day

After you participate in a fieldwork training, you can visit Bark’s volunteer resource page to register for a field day. At the top of the webpage, you will find a calendar with all of Bark’s scheduled field days. When you click on an event, you will find a registration link and additional event details. Click on the registration link and enter your information. After signing up, you will get an email confirming your registration. If you’d like to cancel your registration or have any questions, email Misha, Bark’s Forest Watch Coordinator

General Expectations

COVID 19 Safety Considerations:

Please see Bark’s COVID-19 Safety Protocol for updated information regarding our COVID-19 Safety Protocol. 

The Terrain:

Most of Bark’s fieldwork occurs off of trail in areas that we haven’t visited previously. We often encounter uneven ground, soft, muddy, or slippery surfaces, steep slopes, fallen and/or decaying logs, and streams or standing water with muck (your feet may sink into the ground). While we can’t predict exactly what a site will look like, we do have tools to predict whether a site will be flat or steep. If you are concerned about the terrain or would like to request that you be assigned to a unit with relatively flat terrain, please contact Misha with any questions, requests, or accommodations needed. 

Driving Conditions:

Bark’s work often requires that participants drive unpaved forest roads. Please see Bark’s Driver Expectations and find more detailed information regarding driving expectations, preparations, and safety below. Since the nature of our surveys often requires visiting new places, the staff-person or volunteers coordinating the field day may not have experience with all of the roads you’ll be traveling on but will warn you about the conditions of the roads that they are aware of. We encourage participants to use caution, drive slowly, and turn around if the road becomes too rough for their comfort or vehicle’s ability. If we are unable to reach the planned destination, we can find alternate routes or survey locations. Please see the “Driving Conditions, Safety, and other resources” section below for more discussion and resources regarding driving conditions. 

What to Expect on a Field Day:


After attending a field training, you will be added to Bark’s fieldwork listserv where you will get updates about scheduled field days. After signing up for a field day, you will get a confirmation email and a follow-up email with details about the trip about a week before the field day. This follow-up email will include: 

  • Meeting time and location 
  • Contact information for the Bark staff person or volunteer coordinating the field day 
  • A description of the weather forecast and/or a link to the weather forecast 
  • A packing list 
  • A map to use with Avenza on a smartphone 
  • Documents to Review which will include: 
  • Groundtruthing trips: relevant information to review about the timber sale you’ll be visiting 
  • Wetland mapping surveys: resources to download onto a smartphone for use in the field 
  • Training resources to review if you need a refresher on fieldwork protocol 
  • COVID fieldwork safety protocols 
  • Bark’s Driver Agreements 
  • Bark’s waiver and COVID screening form to fill out before the trip 

Please respond to this email with: 

  • Your COVID screening form 
  • Questions or concerns 
  • Please try to respond with questions and concerns as early as possible! Our fieldwork staff try to respond, but likely won’t be available to answer emails the night before a field day or on their weekends. 


Here is a rough agenda for a typical field day as of 2021. These time frames depend on how far of a drive the survey location is from the meetup spot, what time field day participants need to get back home, and the time of year. We have some flexibility around time, so please reach out before or during a field day if you have a time you need to be home or need other changes to the outlined schedule.   

9:00 am: meetup at the Hollywood Grocery Outlet in Portland and drive to the survey location. 

  • If meeting at the Hollywood Grocery Outlet is inconvenient and you would prefer to meet somewhere closer to the survey location, reach out to Misha so we can coordinate a better meetup location. 
  • Sometimes we also meet at locations outside of Portland (usually in Welches, Estacada, or Hood River) around 10 am. The meeting spot will have cell service, and unless stated in the email, access to grocery stores and gas stations in case you need to get water, food, gear, gas, or use the bathroom before heading into the forest. 
  • If we are organizing carpools (see Bark’s COVID-19 safety protocol), we will organize carpools at the meetup location. 
  • Once everyone arrives, there will be a brief introduction and give an agenda for the day and instructions to the survey location. 

~10:30: Arrive at the meeting spot near survey location 

  • Depending on the survey location, this tends to be a 1-2 hour drive from Portland. 
  • Here we will do more thorough introductions, review the survey gear and practices, go over safety considerations, organize groups, pass out gear, and discuss any other questions or concerns. 

~11:00: Head to survey areas and begin fieldwork. Be sure to bring your lunch! 

~3:00pm: Meet back at cars after fieldwork. 

  • Meetup time after you survey will change depending on the length of the drive back to Portland (we aim to be back by 5-6pm), the time of year (if the sun sets early, we don’t want to be out too close to dark), and whether anyone in the group needs to get back at a specific time. 
  • Here everyone will finish filling out the survey forms, you return Bark survey gear, and debrief the day (talk about exciting finds, ask questions, etc.). 

~4:00: Head back home. 


Following the field day, you will receive an email asking for: 

Packing Considerations

What does Bark Provide?

  • Clipboard with a data sheet and writing utensil
  • Compass
  • Map (for the timber sale and for the larger area)
  • Clinometer (for measuring slope)
  • Tree diameter tape (for measuring the diameters of trees)
  • Binoculars (for measuring canopy cover and looking at birds!)
  • First Aid Kit
  • Whistle
  • Walkie Talkie (for communicating with other groups while in the field)
  • Plant Identification guidebooks (we usually put Plants of the Pacific Northwest by Pojar and Mckinnon in each groundtruthing bag)

We usually bring this extra gear when the weather or season calls for it.  If you know you want to use any of the gear listed, email misha@bark-out.org before your field day.

  • Clothing to borrow
    • Warm hats
    • Puffy jackets
    • Some rain gear
    • Some mittens/gloves
    • Wool socks
  • Blaze orange vests
    • Good for safety during hunting seasons!
  • Guidebooks
    • We usually put one plant ID book in every groundtruthing packet, but have a limited number of other books.  We will bring extra books on topics such as lichen, tree ID, mushrooms, and tracks and scat on the field day, so be sure to ask for something if you’re interested in it.
  • Extra First Aid Equipment

Packing List

  • 1-3 masks 
    • When it is cold and wet, condensation will make your mask wet over time. This makes your mask less comfortable and less effective, so it is nice to have an extra mask to change into after lunch. 
  • Shoes  
    • For surveys in wetlands: 
      • When walking through wetlands, you will likely be in standing water, so most participants rubber waterproof boots are best for keeping your feed dry and warm. 
      • Bark has some rubber boots to lend to participants. If you’d like to borrow some, look for more details in the email you’ll get a week before your trip. 
      • If it is particularly cold and rubber boots won’t be warm enough, you can wear 1-2 layers of thick wool socks and bring toe warmers and an extra pair of socks incase yours get wet. 
      • In warm weather, you can wear non-waterproof trail running shoes or hiking boots if you don’t mind having wet feet. 
    • For groundtruthing surveys: 
      • In cold, wet weather, be sure to choose shoes that will keep your feet warm and dry.  Waterproof hiking boots (like these or these) are great options. 
      • In warm weather, non-waterproof hiking boots (like these) or trail running shoes (like these) are great options. In warm weather, these will keep your feet drier and cooler than waterproof boots 
  • Lots of layers 
    • Since most of our fieldwork is off-trail, be sure to bring long sleeves and long pants.  This will protect you from ticks and mosquito bites and from getting scratched by branches and other plants. 
    • Thicker clothes (like Carhartts) tend to hold up better than lightweight hiking clothes (like these pants). 
    • In cold and wet weather: 
      • Be sure to bring a warm hat, gloves (waterproof if it’s raining/snowing), and lots of layers of warm clothes.  Hand and toe warmers can help a lot! 
      • Choosing non-cotton clothing and socks such as wool, fleece, and down will keep you warmer in cold, wet weather.  
      • In hot weather, cotton is a great and breathable fabric 
  • Rain gear– a jacket and pants. 
  • High Visibility Clothing- Such as a blaze orange vest and/or hat to be visible to anyone hunting. This is most important in the fall. 
  • Lunch, snacks, and water 
    • 2 liters of water is usually sufficient.  Bring more if it’s really hot or if you know you usually need more. 
    • An electrolyte mix or gel is great to bring, especially when it’s hot and sunny out. 
    • It’s better to pack too much food than too little. 
  • Regular medications 
  • If you have a history of severe allergic reactions (especially to stings or bites), please bring the appropriate medication and let someone in your group know how they can access it in case of an emergency.  If you have a prescription to epinephrin, please bring epinephrin. 
  • If you have asthma, please bring an inhaler. 
  • Navigation tools 
    • Map and Compass 
    • Smartphone with navigation app like Avenza 
    • A good compass must have magnetic needle, rotating housing with a degree dial, a bubble in the housing, index lines, and orienteering lines.  Unnecessary but useful parts include a mirror, declination adjustment, a clinometer feature (measures slope), and a scaler/ruler.  Visit this webpage or watch this video for an explanation of the parts of a compass.  The Suunto M3D Leader is a good example of a good, basic compass. 
    • The Columbia River Orienteering Club has a great video series for wilderness navigation on their Youtube Page
  • As many of the “10 essentials” as possible 
    • add a mask and hand sanitizer for COVID! 
    • Add hand and toe warmers for cold weather! 
  • Vehicle safety items 
    • In the winter this includes chains, winter tires, a shovel, a tow strap, something to provide traction in case you get (sand and kitty litter work well, I’ve seen people use newspaper which can double to get a fire started, and some people carry salt or another de-icing substance), a warm blanket, or an ice scraper. 
    • This always includes a tow strap, something to cut fallen trees, extra food/water, a first aid kit (and plastic gloves), and jumper cables.  Bring whatever items you have. 
    • Some tips on winter driving from ODOT 

More questions?  Email Michael, Bark’s Forest Watch Coordinator or Misha, Bark’s Forest Assistant.