A Day in the Life as WWSR Intern

As an intern for the Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers, WWSR, Program out of the Washington Office, most of what I’ve done so far has been working towards the two case studies related to a Wilderness area and a Wild and Scenic River. I laughed when I looked back at a previous entry and said that we were only supposed to be working on these case studies for a month. I think that was the intention, but definitely is not what ended up happening which is ok. I’ve made significant progress on both maps and enjoyed creating in depth projects for Wilderness areas and the Wild and Scenic Rivers I’ve chosen. What’s interesting about the work that I’m doing is that it has some relevancy to important topics being discussed in the Forest Service now. For example, Climate Change is beginning to affect the Forest Service ability to public lands, and they are looking at how to management of public lands considering wildfires are becoming more common in the Pacific Northwest. Elkhorn Creek is the WSR that I’m focusing on for one of my case studies and is located in Oregon. It was damaged by the Beachie Creek Fire that happened two years ago and severely burned the soil and vegetation around Elkhorn. Because of the fire, the habitat for wildlife is gone and so are the mollusk and salamanders that were indigenous to the area. My case study looks at what to expect from wildfire like this in the future and considers management for the area.

For the Wilderness case study, I’ve been becoming more familiar with GIS by using ArcGIS Pro and AGOL which I know are important skills that will be important for future positions related to conservation and environmental work. Through the maps I’ve been examining socioeconomic factors may play a part in acting as barriers for communities in North Carolina and limiting their access and engagement with the public lands closest to them. Between the two case studies, I feel like the issues discussed in this one are most interesting to me. As I get closer to my receiving my DHA, I’m realizing I would like a position within the Forest Service that relates to this. Below are some of images that are going to be included in my WSR case study to show pre-fire conditions and post fire conditions of Elkhorn Creek. I’ll also put images of the mollusk and salamander species previously found in the area before the fire too.

Aside from work I do remotely, one of the coolest experiences that I’ve had so far was going out into the field to participate in a program called Next Gen. Next Gen is a program that is organized by the Chattahoochee-Oconee NF which allows high school students from Atlanta to camp, backpack, and develop environmental stewardship projects. The camp was held at Amicalola State Park and for three days I helped provide mentorship to some of the students and assist with facilitating some of the activities. The students were taught how to identify lichen species, different trees, edible plants, and hiked six miles in two days. I enjoy any opportunity to get into the field and this was my favorite experience so far. The students who were in the program were fun and taught me some things as well. Every night we would have a campfire and one student had a telescope we would use to look at stars and planets. One night I remember we were able to see Jupiter and Saturn through the telescope! On one of the days, we hiked we got to a Zero Waste Inn that other hikers visit when they hike the Appalachian Trail. The inn had beautiful architecture and also used solar panels to generate most of their electricity and hot water. Because of where the Inn was built, there was a beautiful view that we were able to watch the sunrise from which easily made this the best part of the trip. I’ll put some pictures from the trip below!

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