WILDLIFE STUDIES AND HABITAT ASSESSMENT
Sky Island Botany, Forestry and Wildlife Surveys. The Spring Mountains National Recreation Area (SMNRA) includes 316,000 acres of National Forest system land west of Las Vegas. Rising to nearly 12,000 feet at the summit of Mt. Charleston, the Spring Mountains comprise six life zones, hiking trails, springs, extensive wilderness areas, and over 50 species unique to the Spring Mountains. Over the years, Great Basin Institute AmeriCorps Interns have conducted vegetation surveys to identify plants of management concern, surveys for butterfly host plants, neotropical migrant bird surveys, acoustical bat inventories, and northern goshawk and owl surveys.
Sage-Grouse. The greater sage-grouse has been considered for listing as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act by US Fish & Wildlife Service, and the work of GBI AmeriCorps Interns has supported informed studies to help agencies better assess the species’ well-being. GBI Interns have participated in population monitoring, trapping, radio telemetry and habitat assessments across northern Nevada and in California.
California Condor. In 2014, GBI signed a cooperative agreement with the US Fish & Wildlife Service to support monitoring and management of the California Condor Recovery program in California’s Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge. GBI AmeriCorps Interns assist with management of the refuge and coordinate volunteer and public outreach efforts in order to bring greater public understanding of, and appreciation for, this noble endangered species.
Wildlife and Fisheries Management. An agreement with the BLM Redding, CA Field Office, supports a Wildlife and Fisheries Management Intern. The intern assists the BLM wildlife and fisheries biologist with field and office work, including survey and monitoring activities, project research, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) compliance and document preparation, geographical information system (GIS) data entry, and outreach and education. Survey activities include monitoring wildlife and fisheries habitats and populations within the Redding Field Office resource area, and identifying species from multiple families both in aquatic and terrestrial environments.
Habitat Restoration. When the plants aren’t growing and the birds aren’t moving in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area or Pahranagat Wildlife Refuge, GBI Interns implement streambed stabilization and conduct native tree planting. To improve the success of restoration, Interns collect, clean, preserve and plant native and rare plant species seeds as part of the BLM’s “Seeds of Success” program.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area. GBI Interns have worked with NPS botanists and other resource specialists to decommission illegal OHV routes, conduct trail inventories, plant native species, and harvest seeds in the greater Recreation Area.
Native Plant Nursery. At Lake Mead NRA, GBI Interns are responsible for the day-to-day management of the Lake Mead Native Plant Nursery. The nursery grows plants and stores seeds from barrel cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus), Goodings willow (Salix gooddingii), and cottonwood (Populus fremontii) among others. All plants produced support restoration efforts throughout southern Nevada.
USGS. GBI, in partnership with the Henderson NV USGS office has Plant Ecology Interns assist US Geological Survey researchers with all aspects of post-fire restoration in the Mojave Desert, including research into the development of restorative plant materials. Projects are designed to evaluate restoration practices, both traditional and innovative, assessing the ecological processes influencing recovery, and gauging the efficacy of locally-adapted plant materials used in arid land restoration across the Mojave Desert.
INVASIVE SPECIES INVENTORY AND MANAGEMENT
Weed Control. In partnership with the US Forest Service, GBI Interns help implement Nevada’s statewide weed management program. Noxious weeds and other invasive species continue to be among the biggest environmental dangers faced by the state. Interns work throughout the state to inventory, map and treat noxious weed populations on both wilderness and non-wilderness lands. The GIS map databases created and maintained by Interns serve as the guiding management tool to direct and monitor weed-eradication efforts now and into the future.
Death Valley Burned Area Restoration – Weeds Management. Death Valley is located between eastern California and Nevada. It is popularly known for its colorful rocks and glorious wildflower blooms. GBI, in cooperation with Death Valley National Park, offers positions with a rare opportunity to venture off the beaten path and see areas of the park that remain largely unvisited by the public. AmeriCorps Interns assist with cyclic maintenance of exotic vegetation at Scotty’s Castle burned area and other riparian areas in the park. These interns survey, monitor, remove, and control exotics on a consistent basis in order to help promote the reestablishment and growth of native vegetation, restore wildlife habitat(s), and restore the natural ecosystem of the burned area. Interns improve the condition of highly visible and ecologically important park resources by controlling exotic plants and restoring wetland hydrologic functions, and expose youth volunteers to various aspects of resource management in a national park setting.
FORESTRY AND FUELS REDUCTION
Woodland and Forest Management. Working collaboratively with the BLM in Redding, CA, GBI supports an intern who assists the BLM Redding Field Office with a wide variety of field and office tasks. Specific duties and responsibilities include assisting the BLM forester and/or forest ecologist with on-the-ground field studies to develop and implement forest product sales, inventory of forested lands, and monitoring.
CULTURAL RESOURCE ASSISTANCE
Cultural Resource Surveys. GBI AmeriCorps Interns have worked collaboratively with Lake Mead National Recreational Area staff to conduct archaeological field surveys and site documentation, in addition to laboratory analysis and processing. Site condition assessments are also conducted at previously recorded archeological sites at Lake Mead in order to monitor disturbances that impact the integrity of these cultural resources and identify threats that may impact them in the foreseeable future.
Preserve America Cultural Resource Inventory. In the Spring Mountains NRA in southern Nevada, Interns have helped to implement an inter-agency proposal in support of the Preserve America program with the following activities: (a) identify and evaluate cultural resources, (b) create and implement heritage resource education, outreach and interpretation, (c) consult with and involve pertinent tribes in the Heritage resource program, and (d) implement data management, mitigation, and conservation measures for cultural resources. In order to accomplish these goals, Interns work with Forest Service resource specialists to conduct cultural surveys of prehistoric rock art, 19th Century mining towns, and Euro-American emigrant trails and roads. The Interns then enter survey data into a site database, which will inform the planning and development of new projects on the SMNRA.
LTBMU Cultural Resources. In partnership with the U.S. Forest Service’s Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU), GBI AmeriCorps interns support a variety of cultural resource projects. As part of the analysis required by the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for potential ground disturbing projects, a Section 106 of NHPA cultural resource evaluation must be completed to evaluate effects to federally owned historic and prehistoric sites. In order to complete these specialist reports, surveys for archaeological resources need to be completed for all proposed projects. In coordination with the Forest Archaeologist the Archaeology Field Technician works under the direction of a professional archaeologist, learning and then performing archaeological surveying, site recording, artifact identification, mapping, orienteering, archaeological site monitoring, and archaeological site protection.
U.S. Forest Service Travel Management. Travel Management is a U.S. Forest Service process designed to control and mitigate the widespread growth of user-created roads. GBI AmeriCorps Interns conduct surveys and assessments of unpaved forest routes across northern Nevada. The data collected by the Interns helps USFS resource specialists (including Range, Fuels, Recreation, Minerals, Fire, and Archeology) assess the impact of visitation and use on their particular resource. This work has led to the creation of a standardized Travel Management database used by the Forest Service to document routes, identify sensitive resources, measure impacts to these resources, and inform mitigation, restoration, repair, law enforcement, and road closures.
BLM Travel Management. GBI interns support Travel Management Projects in Monticello, UT in cooperation with the Monticello, UT Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management. Interns inventory and monitor Off Highway-Vehicle (OHV) sites and develop public outreach programs and interpretation of sites. This position supports the BLM recreation program by initiating outreach and developing cooperative partnerships between the BLM Monticello Field Office and San Juan County, OHV groups, youth, and volunteer groups. This position helps engage local residents and groups, make improvements to OHV trails, parking areas, trail signs, information kiosks, and trailheads, and helps the BLM Monticello FO implement its Travel Management Plan.
WILDERNESS AND RECREATION
Recreation and Wilderness Monitoring. Nevada is home to 3.4 million acres of Congressionally designated wilderness. To help federal land management agencies maintain the natural character and primitive-and-unconfined-recreational opportunities of the wilderness areas, GBI AmeriCorps Interns gather baseline data on wilderness characteristics and visitor use. These data help protect and preserve important natural resources by mitigating problems and educating wilderness users and the general public.
Visitor Use Surveys. In addition to being a major tourist destination, the Las Vegas metropolitan area has been one of the fastest growing urban areas in the nation for decades. As a result, increasing numbers of residents and tourists are looking to adjacent federal lands for outdoor recreation opportunities. In response, GBI collaborates with the BLM, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to implement a first-of-its-kind National Visitor Use Monitoring (NVUM) survey. Standardized survey protocols and questionnaires are used to gain a better understanding of visitor and non-visitor preferences and to examine recreational needs and trends in southern Nevada. The results of these surveys help land managers better protect natural resources while providing high-quality visitor experiences.
LTBMU – Generation Green Youth Crews. GBI AmeriCorps Interns participate in the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) Tahoe Basin Youth Conservation Team as well as in the Generation Green of Lake Tahoe Program. This unique program provides an opportunity for local youth (particularly low income and diverse individuals) to learn more about the USFS and natural resource management. Interns spend the summer participating in a variety of tasks which include historic site maintenance, trail work, noxious weed removal, recreation site maintenance, and talking to the public about historic sites. This program offers underrepresented youths a chance to forge a connection with the area that they live in and gain skills and experience that they might not otherwise have the opportunity to develop.
ENVIRONMENTAL OUTREACH, EDUCATION, AND INTERPRETATIVE SERVICES
Mojave Desert. As the population of Southern Nevada and surrounding areas continues to expand, public outreach and education provides diverse learners the opportunity to understand, appreciate and respect the fragile Mojave Desert. GBI AmeriCorps Interns assist federal agencies in providing curriculum-based field trips and in classroom programs for school students in the Clark County School District, especially schools with a high percentage of English Language Learners. Interns also contribute to interpretive hikes, short talks, campground programs, library programs, outreach at special events and community events, and informal roving interpretation to the public.
Grand Canyon – Parashant Outreach. Parashant National Monument is located in one of the most remote locations of the United States. The site enables visitors to bask in the glorious night skyviews, but is a challenge to navigate to and consequently attracts relatively few guests. GBI supports an intern that assists with environmental stewardship and historical preservation by working on a variety of projects. These projects assist in the creation, promotion, facilitation and improvement of the public’s understanding of natural, historic and cultural resources, and recreational opportunities within the Monument.
Capitol Reef Interpretation. Capitol Reef National Park is filled with cliffs, canyons, domes and bridges. In addition to unique geological resources, the park also has a rich cultural history. GBI AmeriCorps Interns help support the park through different outreach and interpretation positions. Since 2015 GBI interns have done work on a variety of different interpretation projects ranging from educating the parks visitors about the historic orchards, designing a Junior Ranger booklet, and developing programs for foreign language visitors.