While an understanding of natural sciences is vital to effective restoration and conservation work, I believe that it is equally important to recognize the role of the human dimension in environmental decision making. I entered the Conservation Management Program at UC Davis, a two-year graduate certificate program, to supplement my education in the natural sciences with training in the social sciences. The goals of this program are to teach practical skills for implementing collaborative, community-integrated, ecosystem-based management. In addition to completing required coursework, through this program I helped organize and/or participated in workshops and panel discussions on conflict resolution, stakeholder negotiation, and communicating science to policymakers and the public. The program also required completing a year-long project with a partner agency or organization.
Conservation Management Project at Independence Lake
The land surrounding Independence Lake., a beautiful and ecologically important lake in the northern Sierra Nevada Mountains, was acquired by The Nature Conservancy in 2010. The lake contains a relatively undisturbed assemblage of native aquatic organisms, including one of the last remaining lake populations of Lahontan cutthroat trout. Potential invasions of non-native aquatic species pose a major risk to the ecological and recreational value of the lake.
For my conservation management project, I completed a collaborative project with two fellow graduate students and TNC to help develop a management plan for Independence Lake. My contribution to the management plan included 1) helping conduct a comprehensive survey of all the aquatic plants of the lake, 2) identifying and photographing all species and creating a digital flora for the lake, representing “baseline” conditions, 3) creating a mounted collection of all aquatic plants in the lake, and 4) helping administer surveys to lake visitors on their knowledge of risks and appropriate actions regarding aquatic invasive species. Happily, I found a rich assortment of native species, but did not find any non-native aquatic plants in the lake!