Lava Beds National Monument and Oregon Institute of Technology have signed a task agreement approved by the Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Units (CESU) National Network that will involve Oregon Tech Geomatics and Environmental Sciences students working at the park to conduct geographic information systems work.
October 11, 2010, Klamath Falls, Oregon – Lava Beds National Monument and Oregon Institute of Technology have signed a task agreement approved by the Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Units (CESU) National Network that will involve Oregon Tech Geomatics and Environmental Sciences students working at the park to conduct geographic information systems work.
Through recent surveys, reports, and public comments, Lava Beds National Monument identified in its new General Management Plan informal or “social” trails as threats to resource preservation and visitor experience at the monument. Oregon Tech students will assist with mapping trails, documenting the impact social trails have on the environment, and analyzing visitor behavior to support immediate management needs.
Lava Beds needed detailed documentation of social trails to create a solution to mitigate the erosion and destruction of plant life and significant geologic features. Social trails are paths developed by erosion caused by animal or human footfall. The path usually represents the shortest or most easily navigated route between an origin and destination.
Lava Beds Resource Management Specialist Jason Mateljak commented, “Lava Beds has been working to foster a strong relationship with Oregon Tech and their environmental science program in order to support education and to solicit outside researchers to visit and work at the monument. The location of the school and the mission of their program are necessary qualities that provide an excellent opportunity for the Monument and Oregon Tech to participate in mutually beneficial projects.”
For this year-long project, Oregon Tech will conduct a study titled “Analyzing Front Country Social Trails Data from Lava Beds National Monument” by supervising student workers who will collect and analyze the data. The study will produce maps, assessments, recommendations, and reports illustrating social trail networks in eight primary survey units that encompass the most significant resources, and are the most popular visitor areas within the monument. The results of the project will assist Lava Beds management in focusing restoration efforts, interpretation, and signage for the most critical areas, particularly when funding and staff time are limited.
“This is a great opportunity for Oregon Tech students,” said Carrie Wittmer, Environmental Science Program Director at Oregon Tech. “Students will have the chance to work closely with Lava Beds scientists and professionals on a park-wide initiative to study social trails and associated environmental impacts. These are paid positions and are exceptional professional development opportunities to conduct first-hand research, collect geographic information systems data, and produce a report that will be valuable to managing natural and cultural resources at Lava Beds. This is what Oregon Tech is all about – hands-on experience for real world achievement. It doesn’t get more hands-on than this.”
Oregon Tech and Lava Beds National Monument have worked together on several initiatives over the last year including a course in field methods taught at Lava Beds this fall.