What to Expect on a Field Day

COVID 19 Safety Considerations

Please see Bark’s COVID-19 Safety Protocol for updated information regarding our COVID-19 Safety Protocol.  As of March 2021, fieldwork participants are required to wear a mask, drive seperately from anyone outside of their household, keep 6ft distance from other participants during fieldwork, to limit exchange of materials and gear during the field day, and to sanitize gear borrowed from Bark before returning it.

The Terrain

Most of Bark’s groundtruthing 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. 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 upaved forest roads roads. Please see Bark’s Driver Expectations and read more about driving expectations, preparations, and safety here. The staff-person or volunteer coordinating the field day will warn you about any rough roads that they are aware of. We encourage participants to drive slowly and turn around or stop driving when the road becomes to rough for their comfort or their car’s ability and can find alternative locations if we can’t reach our planned destination. Visit the “Driving Conditions, Safety, and other resources” for more discussion and resources regarding driving conditions.

What to Expect on a Field Day:


After taking the groundtruthing training, you will be added to Bark’s fieldwork listserv where you will get information to be able to sign up for a field day. About a week before the trip, you will get an email with additional details preparing you for the trip.  This email will include:

  • The timber sale you will be groundtruthing and links to learn more about it
    • We will include the units we plan to groundtruth when possible.  These are subject to change!
  • Meeting time and location
  • The 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 (which you can find here)
  • A map to use with Avenza on a smartphone
  • Documents to Review which will include:
    • The timber sale scoping letter
    • A groundtruthing resources in case you need a refresher
    • COVID fieldwork safety protocols
    • Bark Driver Agreements
  • A document or link to fill out out waiver and COVID screening form

Please respond to this email with:

  • You COVID screening form and waiver
  • Any accessibility accommodations needed
  • Questions or concerns!


Here is a typical field day agender, during the pandemic. All time frames depend on how far of a drive the timber sale is from the meetup spot, what time field day participants need to get back home, and the time of year (if the sun sets at 4pm, we will end groundtruthing before).

10:00 am: Meetup at a location near the forest (usually in Welches or Hood River)

  • This will be a spot with cell service and where you still have 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.
  • Once everyone arrives, there will be a brief introduction, agenda for the day, and instructions to the final destination given.

10:15 am: Caravan to the meeting spot closer to the timber sale. 

~11:00 am: Arrive at the meeting spot in or near the timber sale units.

  • Depending on the timber sale location, this can take anywhere from 30-90min.
  • Here we will do more thorough introductions, introduce the timber sale, review the groundtruthing gear, go over safety considerations, and assign groups for groundtruthing

~11:30 am: Head out into the field units

  • How the groundtruthing process goes depends on your group and unit!  This is also when you’ll eat lunch.

~4 pm: Head back to cars after groundtruthing.

  • Meetup time after groundtruthing will change depending on how long of a drive there is, 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.  We try end groundtruthing so that participants could be back to Portland by 5pm.
  • Here everyone will finish filling out the groundtruthing forms, you will sanitize and return groundtruthing gear, debrief the day (talk about exciting finds, ask questions, and think about how the area you saw would be affected by logging).

4:30 pm: Return to the initial meetup spot


You will receive a follow-up email asking for:

  • Your Avenza data
  • For you to upload your groundtruthing photos to Bark’s Flickr Account (this is very helpful for Bark staff when writing comments on the timber sale, so please take some time to do this!)

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 it less comfortable and less effective so it is nice to have an extra mask to change into in after lunch.
  • Closed toed shoes 
    • 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
    • In all conditions
      • Since most of our fieldwork is off-trail, be sure to bring long sleeves and long pants.  This will protect you from insect bites and stings 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).
    • Winter/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. 
    • including a warm hat, gloves, long pants and long sleeved shirts/jackets
    • 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 hunters.
  • Lunch, snacks, and water
    • 2 liters of water is usually sufficient.  Bring more if it’s really hot or if you know you need more water than that.
    • 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.  I usually put a bag of trail mix in my backpack as back up food in case I’m hungrier than expected or out for longer than anticipated.  It’s relatively light and compact for how much energy it’ll give me.
  • Regular medications
    • If you have a history of severe allergic reactions 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.
  • 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.
  • As many of the “10 essentials” as possible
    • add a mask and hand sanitizer for COVID!
    • Add hand and to 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), jumper cables, and tools.  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.