Scientists to speak on impacts of users on protected lands _ aspen daily news online

The image is so intertwined and ingrained into the Colorado high country mindset that it reaches the level of argumentatively inviolate: A line of hikers, brightly colored daypacks forming a focal point for the inevitable wide-angle photograph, making their way along a sinewy footpath toward a distant summit on a blue-sky, wildflower-dense summer day.

It is the quintessential stereotype of a recreational pursuit that not only does zero in the way of harm to the environment, but, in its own unexamined sociological way, actually aids and abets the health and well-being of the natural world.

After all, what negative impact could a few hikers possibly do to a landscape as rock solid as the Rocky Mountains? What harm could a sinewy trail to the top of a mountain possibly do?

It is a subtle conundrum for scientists, public land managers and non-motorized outdoor recreationists alike. Eephus pitch gif The issue, of course, is that most people think wildlands somehow benefit from human visitation and the infrastructure that supports that visitation. Fantasy football mock draft ppr To argue otherwise in Colorado is near-bouts sacrilegious.


Scientist Sarah Reed has been studying the issue for 15 years and, along with research colleague Sarah Thomas, will present two talks on the subject this week in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Reed is an associate conservation scientist with the North America Program of the Wildlife Conservation Society. Jain irrigation inc She is also an affiliate faculty member in the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.

Reed began studying the impact of non-motorized backcountry recreationists on wildlife populations while working on her doctorate at the University of California-Berkley.

She focused her attention on midsized carnivores — coyotes and bobcats, mostly — in a variety of protected landscapes that had been recently opened to the public.

“We observed a five-fold decrease in the populations of coyotes and bobcats in places that were recently opened to public use,” Reed said. Landscape construction “That impact was fairly uniform, whether the users were hiking, biking or hiking with dogs.”

She met Thomas, now a research affiliate at the University of Colorado-Boulder, while they were in graduate school. Lattice definition chemistry They took a seminar in parks management and started talking about the role of conservation and recreation on biology.

Reed and Thomas have been involved in research projects in locations as disparate as California’s San Diego County, the Colorado Front Range and, most recently, the waterways of New York’s Adirondack Mountains.

And the conclusions, though always site-specific, are generally uniform: When you add human use, even of the non-motorized, self-propelled, holier-than-thou variety, to a protected landscape previously unvisited, the impact on wildlife populations is almost always negative.

“The number of people who hike has tripled in the last 30 years,” she said. Roll pitch yaw angles “Same with the number of people bird-watching. Synthetic fiber crossword The world’s protected lands saw an estimated 8 billion visitors last year. Garden layout planner The demand for new trails and infrastructure is increasing. Gardenia yellow leaves And the outdoor-recreation business is growing.”

Last year, a research assistant working for Reed did a systematic examination of all available published scientific evidence on the subject and learned that almost every study concluded that there was at least some effect on wildlife from human visitation in the backcountry, and two-thirds of those studies rated those interactions as negative.

Her scientist side feels compelled to simply present her research to land managers and hope for the best. Ncaa basketball tournament 2015 But her conservationist side feels that she should editorialize her findings.

“There are a lot of knowledge gaps,” she said. Facebook mobile login “There is growing evidence that recreation and conservation goals are commonly blended in the management plans for protected lands. Landscaping near me We start by suggesting that those two goals should not always be automatically combined. Duke basketball score today Most importantly, we ask land managers whether or not to open a site to recreational use. Landscape photoshop tutorials Not all sites are appropriate for recreational use, even use that is viewed as minimally intrusive, like hiking or mountain biking.”

Reed said that she recommends that managers look at their turf at the landscape level and then research individual sites within that landscape to determine what’s appropriate for human use, and what ought to be left for the coyotes and bobcats.

But, Reed said, she does occasionally come across land managers who are receptive to her observations regarding the common clash between the needs of wildlife and the desires of hikers and birdwatchers.

“Land managers are far quicker to accept the scientific evidence than the general public,” she said. Fabric material names “For many of them, public demand increases their management challenges in a time when budgets are often being cut. Facebook desktop messenger Closing a protected area to human use is cost effective, and beneficial to wildlife.”

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