Cubicle Life

The last month or so of my Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers (WWSR) RAship at the regional office in Missoula, MT has been pretty quiet. While so many others working on forests and districts across Region 1 have been busy soaking up the last bits of summer in the field, I have been enjoying some nice inside office computer time (said with only the slightest amount of FOMO) 😉. This time has given me the chance to really focus in on a few interesting projects I’ve been working on related to Wild & Scenic River planning.

The first project I’ve been a part of is assisting in some pre-work related to the effort to revise the management plan for the recreational segment of the main Salmon River in Idaho. The original management plan for the main Salmon River was completed in 1982 and while the more recent 2003 Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Management Plan updated management guidance for the section of the main Salmon considered “wild”, the management guidelines for the recreational segment need to be updated to ensure compliance with statutory requirements for the development of Wild & Scenic River Comprehensive River Managment Plans (CRMPs). I’ve been working on this in conjunction with one of my mentors, Liz Townley, a WWSR planner for the Washington Office, as well as Salmon-Challis National Forest staff, River Management Society personnel, and other assisting USFS specialists. The plan revision effort will be a multi-year process, but as one of the first steps, I conducted a gap analysis comparing the 1982 plan with what should be included in an updated CRMP. All in all, it was a challenging but rewarding introduction to WSR planning and I feel like I learned a lot.

The second project I’ve been working on feels a lot like some of the research I worked on in graduate school, so it’s been good to be back in somewhat familiar terrain. Working with Chris Colvin, the Branch Chief of WWSR planning in the newly minted Planning Services Organization, I am conducting a systematic literature review of novel data sources and how they can be used to assist in Wild & Scenic River planning. Novel data, or “big data”, are large datasets derived from technology data sources like cell phone location data, data from social media apps like Twitter, Flickr, or Instagram, and GPS data from fitness tracking apps like Strava. Chris and other USFS planners are interested in how these data sources may complement or be utilized in the absence of traditional visitor use estimation methods like on-site surveys and the use of trail counters to help determine use of a WSR river and corridor, as well as provide information on visitor behaviors and visitor experiences on WSRs. It’s been a lot of super fun reading and spreadsheet time, and I hope to share what I have found so far on a national call with WWSR program managers and other folks doing WSR work at the end of next month. Eek, I’m nervous already! 😬

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