National Wildlife Federation Rocky Mountain Regional Center – lots of public lands, wildlife conservation, and “fun” with the new administration!

It’s a fun situation when what you’re trying to protect is being slapped in the face by the new presidential administration. That’s not sarcasm. Really. It’s been an adventure, and we’re definitely making progress! Here at the NWF-RMRC in Denver, my main project is working on public land protection and energy development mitigation with the Dept. of the Interior and the BLM.

Of course, as the intern (or “Project Assistant” which is my actual title), I’m learning so much here because I’m working on so many different projects. From big horn sheep habitat conservation in the foothills to philanthropy event-coordinating at extravagant mansions near downtown Denver to working early childhood conferences and sportsmen expos, I’m pulled in all different directions, and it’s a blast.

My main project, however, is what is most important to me. I started out contacting agency officials to sign a letter I assisted in writing to the new Secretary of the Interior Zinke with the goal to keep leasing reforms in place from 2010 concerning energy development on public lands (which is an entirely new concept to me, having grown up in Texas where the majority of the land is privately owned). These reforms, as some of you will find out in my presentation at the end of the semester, require deeper looks into environmental protection concerns on lands that are being considered for oil and gas development.

My next step, and what I’m really excited about (and why I don’t have any pictures to post yet), is in the beginning of April, I get to go out to South Park, Colorado, speak to businesses, hike in the beautiful Rocky Mountains, and possibly learn to fly fish ALL as a part of my business outreach for the project. Not a bad gig, right?

Anyway, that is pretty much all as of right now that I’m allowed to post concerning my work with the NWF.

Oh, and one more thing: the best thing about Colorado is definitely the beer. 🙂

Staring at Sloths (not part of my project)

Along with three other MSEM students from Cohort 4 and a PhD student from Indiana University, I am conducting an independent research project in Costa Rica as part of a three year project. The overall project is looking at land fragmentation effects on forest condition, community vitality, and primate health. My project focuses on examining the effects of participation in economic incentive programs (payments for environmental services) on equity and perceptions of forest health. Read more

Fig Trees, Fieldwork, and Forest Fragmentation

In working to save destroyed rainforests and to restore human dominated landscapes in tropical regions, land managers and landowners have been planting fig trees, or Ficus spp. individuals, on their properties for several years. This is due to fig trees being a keystone species in the tropics; Ficus spp. fruit all year round, are included in the diets of over 2,000 vertebrate species, and there are over 800 species of fig trees under the Ficus genus. Read more