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February 28, 2013

Paul Guernsey publishes opinion piece in Register Guard

An opinion piece by Paul Guernsey, entitled “Urban farming has powerful positive influence” was published in the Register Guard recently. The piece addresses the regulation of farm animals in urban environments, and the benefits of urban farming.

Read Paul’s piece here.

February 26, 2013

Keats Conley presents at ORAFS Annual Meeting

Keats Conley presented recently at the 49th Annual Meeting of the Oregon Chapter of the American Fisheries Society in Bend, Oregon. This year, the meeting’s theme was “Building Partnerships and Community between Fish and Folks”. Keats’ presentation, entitled “Fostering Partnerships through Student Research: A Service-Learning Approach to Riparian Stewardship”, was coauthored by Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) Co-Director Peg Boulay and by Jared Weybright of the McKenzie Watershed Council.

Keats presented on her experience serving as a project manager for the 2012 Stream Stewardship Team, which was comprised of 12 UO undergraduate students who completed a service-learning riparian restoration project on the Berggren Watershed Conservation Area and the Middle McKenzie Side Channels. She shared “lessons learned regarding successful project design and implementation,” and described “how service-learning can provide students with practical field and writing skills, an introduction to restoration knowledge, and experience working collaboratively in a team-based setting, while also providing a useful product to project partners.” Keats sums up the significance of her experience: “By serving as a project manager I played a small role in continuing the long-term partnership between the University of Oregon Environmental Leadership Program and the McKenzie Watershed Council.”

February 7, 2013

2nd Annual Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples Lecture

The 2nd Annual Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples Lecture at the University of Oregon will be held on April 10, 2013 at 6:30 pm in the Many Nations Longhouse. Keynote speakers are Dr. Frank Kanawha Lake, a Research Ecologist with the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station and Kyle Powys Whyte, and Assistant Professor of Philosophy from Michigan State University. The lecture will be the keynote event for the UO Climate Change Research Symposium that will also be held that day. A key sponsor of the event is the Americas in a Globalized World initiative, which recently awarded organizers Mark Carey and Kathy Lynn a grant to support of the 2013 event. The event is also sponsored by the University of Oregon Robert D. Clark Honors College, the Environmental Studies Program, and UO Climate Change Research Group.

About the Event: Indigenous people are disproportionately affected by climate change and natural disasters, yet they are often marginalized from policy and academic discussions. Moreover, discussion of indigenous people and climate change opens up much broader discussion about environmental epistemologies across diverse cultures, as well as environmental management, race and class dynamics, and the intersection of local, national, and global issues. In 2012, the University of Oregon hosted a student-focused symposium on indigenous peoples and climate change, which sparked great interest among students, faculty and community members. In April 2013, we will build on the interest sparked last year among the University and community by hosting a second keynote lecture in the Many Nations Longhouse.

For more information, contact: Kathy Lynn, UO Environmental Studies Program (541-346-5777, kathy@uoregon.edu) or Mark Carey, UO Clark Honors College (541-346-8077, carey@uoregon.edu).http://ccip.uoregon.edu/

January 27, 2013

Three ENVS students and an alum to speak at OHESC

Three ENVS undergraduates, Megan Gleason, Emma Newman, and Kristin White, as well as an ENVS alumna, Briana Orr (’11), will be presenting at the Oregon Higher Education Sustainability Conference (OHESC) that will take place at Portland State University on January 31st and February 1st, 2013. The conference will bring together both public and private universities and colleges in Oregon to “facilitate information sharing, networking, and collaboration related to innovative sustainability practice and research among Oregon’s higher education institutions.”

Emma Newman, who is currently researching separated bicycle facilities with LiveMove for her honors thesis, will be presenting with two other LiveMove members on working to improve pedestrian, biking, and transit options on the UO campus and throughout the Eugene-Springfield area. Emma will also be leading a visioning session in the student summit portion of the conference along with Amanda Maxwell, Co-Director of the Cascade Climate Network. Session participants will work together to come up with a conference vision, which will then be presented to the conference as a whole.

“I hope to connect more with students whom I do not already know in our region who wish to create the transformational shift to a more sustainable, just, and livable world,” Emma says. “The conference will serve as a great space to share the work that we are doing and best practices, make connections for future work, and be inspired to continue working hard to create the changes we wish to see.”

Kristin White, who is serving her second year on the UO Sustainability Center Board of Directors and who spoke at the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education 2012 Conference, will be giving a presentation entitled “Overcoming Silos in Student Activism.” Using the UO’s Earth Week 2012 as an example of collaborative activism that brought together many different student groups, Kristin will show how community theory can help create coalitions among student organizations working separately on related issues. Kristin will then facilitate a workshop so that audience members can discuss building solidarity around environmental issues among student groups on their own campuses.

As an undergraduate, Briana Orr wrote and received $27k in grants to improve bike infrastructure and support the UO Bike Program. She also co-wrote the application which led to the UO being named a Silver-level Bike Friendly University by the League of American Bicyclists. Briana now works professionally for the UO Bike Program as the Bike Program Coordinator.

At the upcoming conference, Briana will be co-presenting with Clint Culpepper, the supervisor of the PSU Bike Hub (which is similar to the UO’s Bike Program shop) about creating and growing bicycle programs on college and university campuses. Through a comparison of their respective programs, Briana and Clint will present the pros and cons of two different ways of funding university bike programs, and will examine the many types of services that bicycle programs can offer. Ultimately, they hope to engage the audience in a discussion of the challenges of creating and improving bicycle programs on their own campuses.

“I am humbled to join our great cohort of students, staff, and faculty presenting and representing the sustainability work we are doing at University of Oregon.” Briana says. “I’m looking forward to networking with our fellow OUS [Oregon University System] schools and learning from one another. And I hope that through this conference, we can collaborate to create change on an OUS level.”

January 24, 2013

Carson Viles speaks at McNair Scholars Symposium

Carson Viles, a fourth-year Environmental Studies and Robert D. Clark Honors College student, as well as a student researcher for the Tribal Climate Change Project, was chosen as a McNair Scholar this year. He gave a research presentation entitled “Foods that Nourish Us: Climate Change Impacts on Indigenous Culture in the Pacific Northwest” at the McNair Scholars 2013 Symposium in February.

Here is what Carson has to say about his presentation:

“In the Pacific Northwest, the potential and ongoing impacts of climate change to tribes and First Nations are mounting. In response, tribal communities, academics and others are researching the effects of climate change. Much of existing climate change research focuses on analyzing impacts to natural resources, i.e. on quantifiable impacts. This paper argues that understanding the cultural impacts of climate change on indigenous people provides a more complete picture of what is at stake for native people today. Climate change has significant implications for traditional food use. This paper details impacts to two aspects of culture, family and sovereignty, order to show how climate change, by impacting traditional food use and species health, also impacts native culture and wellbeing in the Pacific Northwest. Furthermore, this paper demonstrates similarities between climate change and colonization and their effects on traditional food use as well as family and sovereignty in native communities.”

For more information on the McNair Scholars 2013 Symposium, click here.

January 17, 2013

Research by Brendan Bohannan & team published in PNAS

An international team of microbiologists including Brendan Bohannan recently published the findings of their study on microbial biodiversity in the soil of the Amazon Rainforest in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Although previous studies had indicated that local microbial biodiversity increases when rainforest land is converted to farmland, Bohannan and his colleagues found that across wider areas, net microbial biodiversity actually decreases because communities become more homogenous as endemic soil bacteria (i.e. those with very specific niches) are lost. The unprecedented scale of the study (100 square kilometers) allowed the team to detect the homogenization of microbial communities.

“Our findings are especially important because they support the idea that microbes are impacted by human-caused environmental change,” says Bohannan. “Land-use change is part of the suite of human-caused environmental changes known as global change. Understanding how microbes respond to such changes is especially important because microbes are responsible for environmental processes that sustain all of life — the recycling of nutrients, the production of clean water, the removal of pollutants and more.”

Read the UO Communications article about Bohannan and his team’s research here.

Listen to a 90-second EarthSky podcast featuring Bohannan and his team’s research here.

Read the full PNAS article here.

January 16, 2013

Seven ENVS faculty members honored at CAS Dean’s Reception

Seven core ENVS faculty members were honored for university- and national-level research and teaching awards they received in 2012 at the College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Reception on February 20th.

Scott Bridgham became a Fellow of the Society of Wetland Scientists, which is the Society’s highest level of recognition for accomplishments of a member. Trudy Ann Cameron became a Fellow of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists. Matthew Dennis was awarded the Provost’s Senior Humanist Research Fellowship by the Oregon Humanities Center. Josh Roering and Ted Toadvine each received a Fund for Faculty Excellence Award from the University of Oregon. Marsha Weisiger received the Hal Rothman Prize from the Western History Association. Richard York received the Rural Sociology Best Paper Award from the Rural Sociological Society, as well as a Teaching and Mentorship Award and an Allan Schnaiberg Outstanding Publication Award Honorable Mention, both from the American Sociological Association.


January 10, 2013

Kathryn Lynch wins green educator award

Kathryn Lynch is one of only ten U.S. educators to win a 2012 Chevrolet GREEN Educator Award. Given by Earth Force and the General Motors Foundation, the award recognizes environmental educators who “engage youth in innovative and interactive environmental learning.” As co-director of ENVS’ Environmental Leadership Program, Lynch has coordinated 28 service-learning projects with over 17 community partners over the past seven years. Many of these projects give undergraduates the opportunity to work in teams to design and implement K-12 curriculums on various local environmental themes.

Read more in AroundtheO here.

Hear Lynch talk about “youth voice” and see her profile on the Chevrolet GREEN Educator site here.

January 9, 2013

Anthony Leiserowitz interviewed by Bill Moyers

ENVS alum Anthony Leiserowitz appeared on Moyers and Company recently to discuss the current state of climate change communication. In the course of the interview, Leiserowitz touches on his idea that there are six different American publics when it comes to climate change, emphasizes that mobilization on climate change must come from the bottom up, and examines why the Republican Party has backed away from addressing climate change solutions over the past four years. He explains why, in his view, “You almost couldn’t design a problem that is a worse fit [than climate change] with our underlying psychology.” Ultimately, Leiserowitz says, we need to work on depoliticizing the issue of climate change so that it’s no longer about identity politics.

View Leiserowitz’s interview segment here or watch the full show here.

January 8, 2013

Sarah Jaquette Ray publishes book

The Ecological Other: Environmental Exclusion in American Culture, a book by ENVS alumna Sarah Jaquette Ray, will be published in May by the University of Arizona Press.

From the publisher:

“With roots in eugenics and other social-control programs, modern American environmentalism is not always as progressive as we would like to think. In The Ecological Other, Sarah Jaquette Ray examines the ways in which environmentalism can create social injustice through discourses of the body.

“Ray investigates three categories of ecological otherness: people with disabilities, immigrants, and Native Americans. Extending recent work in environmental justice ecocriticism, Ray argues that the expression of environmental disgust toward certain kinds of bodies draws problematic lines between ecological “subjects”—those who are good for and belong in nature—and ecological “others”—those who are threats to or out of place in nature. Ultimately, The Ecological Other urges us to be more critical of how we use nature as a tool of social control and to be careful about the ways in which we construct our arguments to ensure its protection.

“The book challenges long-standing assumptions in environmentalism and will be of interest to those in environmental literature and history, American studies, disability studies, and Native American studies, as well as anyone concerned with issues of environmental justice.”

Sarah Jaquette Ray is an assistant Professor of English and a coordinator for the Geography and Environmental Studies program at the University of Alaska Southeast in Juneau.

December 11, 2012

Featured Faculty: David Sutherland

As David Sutherland sees it, although Coos Bay lacks the glaciers of far-off Greenland’s majestic fjords, the nearby Oregon inlet is just as fascinating. Although Sutherland, an MIT-trained oceanographer, has conducted much of his research in Greenland, when he joined the UO Department of Geological Sciences and Environmental Studies Program faculties last September, he “wanted to work on something local and Oregon-centric.” Creating a computer model of the complex estuarine processes in Coos Bay fit the bill perfectly.

The Coos Bay modeling project is just getting underway. The first step is to gather data describing all of the physical variables that affect the dynamics of the estuary, including the seasonal amounts of water flowing out of Coos River, the area’s weather patterns, the tides, and the estuary’s bathymetry, or shape.

Not only are most of these variables constantly in flux, but they all influence each other, which makes creating a reliable model challenging, to say the least. In Coos Bay, Sutherland explains, “The river discharge is extremely seasonal, going from very wet during the winter storm season, to dry during the late summer and early fall. This change in river input has a drastic influence on the salt content of the estuary, and thus, on its currents, or circulation.” In turn, the circulation, which is also affected by the estuary’s bathymetry as well as by tides and winds, “can dictate the estuary’s salt and temperature distribution.”

To create a computer model of the complex interactions of all of these factors, Sutherland is drawing from tide gauges, meteorological observations, bathymetric charts, and weather models. To ensure that the model is accurate, he is also working with a graduate student who is collecting real-life observations in Coos Bay. “No model is complete without observations—you need to initialize it somehow and you need to validate it.”

Sutherland says of the modeling project, “This is not a pie-in-the-sky exercise, as the liquefied natural gas terminals being discussed for Coos Bay might require ships with a deeper draft, and thus, a deeper channel.” This could have environmental impacts that Sutherland’s model will be designed to help predict. “Changing the shape of the channel could alter the salt balance and circulation in the estuary,” which has the potential to drastically affect the habitats of aquatic species.

In addition to the Coos Bay project, Sutherland is also working on two projects on fjord circulation in Greenland, one funded by the National Science Foundation and the other by NASA. “It’s time-consuming planning for fieldwork in Greenland. But it’s extremely rewarding, both scientifically and from a traveling point of view. It’s a beautiful part of the world!” he says.

In the near future, Sutherland would also like to begin doing glacier-fjord system research in Alaska. “Ironically,” he says, “it is easier to obtain funding to work in Greenland than in Alaska even though the systems are very similar in terms of physical processes and travel to Alaska is much cheaper. The Greenland Ice Sheet is a bigger player in terms of potential sea level rise and is much less explored.”

When asked to reflect on his first year at the UO, during which he taught two large lecture courses in addition to conducting his new and ongoing research projects, Sutherland exclaims, “It’s been a whirlwind!” Of the environmental studies course he taught he says, “It was an amazing introduction to the Pacific Northwest environment and I learned a ton about the natural environs of the Willamette Valley through my interactions with the Environmental Studies Program.” He especially appreciated the opportunity to interact with his students outside of the classroom during the class’ Campus-Community Connections volunteering events.

Looking toward the future, Sutherland will be developing an advanced course in coastal oceanography, and hopes one day soon to teach a course on scientific writing or documentary filmmaking. “This is an area that we, as scientists, need practice in—communicating our results with the public. So we might as well start teaching it to our students too!”

In the long term, Sutherland dreams of using autonomous underwater vehicles called ocean gliders to further investigate Greenland’s fjords. “This would allow us to get data on water properties underneath ice where ships cannot go.” Sutherland also envisions developing “novel technologies for observing the ice-ocean interface in these glacier-fjord systems. Iceberg trackers, tagging marine mammals, etc. are all on the table!”

Most exciting, though, is that Sutherland and his wife, Kelly, who is also an oceanographer and UO professor, just became new parents: Marin Ashley Sutherland was born on November 27th. David jokes, “We’re hoping to raise a little salty Duck.”

Read about other Environmental Studies Program students and faculty members here.

December 5, 2012

UO Climate Change Research Symposium calls for papers

The UO Climate Change Research Group is accepting proposals for panels and papers for the 2nd Annual UO Climate Change Research Symposium.

Faculty, Graduate, and Undergraduate Students from all disciplines are welcome!

What: 2nd Annual UO Climate Change Research Symposium and Climate Change and Indigenous Peoples Lecture
When
: 10 April 2013
Where: Fir Room EMU / Many Nations Longhouse
Deadline:
17 February 2013
Theme:
An interdisciplinary symposium to prompt discussion among faculty and students conducting research on Climate Change at the University of Oregon.

Climate change is a multi-faceted global crisis. Professors and students in the arts, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences examine different facets of this important global challenge. The UO Climate Change Research Symposium brings together individuals whose problem-driven research and works of art transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries. The sharing of perspectives and exchange of ideas will produce a lasting dialogue that will enrich the depth of academic discourse at the University of Oregon.

To submit a proposal for a paper or panel: please complete the form available here and follow the instructions included there.

For more information, including a tentative schedule and keynote speakers, please visit:

http://climatechange.uoregon.edu

http://ccip.uoregon.edu/

November 29, 2012

ELP teams publish research in OUR Journal

Two 2012 ELP teams, the Stream Stewardship Team and the Restoration Research Team, and Sierra Predovich, an environmental science major, each recently published an article in OUR Journal, the Oregon Undergraduate Research Journal.

The Stream Stewardship Team’s article, “Restoration Monitoring on the McKenzie River, Oregon,” presents the team’s findings on the effects of large woody debris that the US Forest Service placed in a side channel of the McKenzie in 2011. The team measured pebble size and surveyed the stream morphology, and then compared their results to those of the 2011 Stream Stewardship Team. They conclude that there were small but significant positive changes in both the stream’s sediments and morphology.

Assessing the Relationship Between Topography and Plant Diversity in Restored and Remnant Wet Prairies” discusses the Restoration Research Team’s study conducted in six different restored and remnant wet prairies in the West Eugene Wetlands. At 200 points at each site, the team measured the vegetation cover, leaf litter and water depth, and soil surface elevation to assess whether microtopographic heterogeneity, or small variations in the soil surface, increases native plant cover. While their results did not prove statistically significant, based on their observations the team concludes that microtopographical variation does have beneficial effects on native plants.

In her article, “Stomata Density of Orchids and Cloud Forest Humidity,” Sierra Predovich discusses her experiment on two different types of orchids collected in Monteverde, Costa Rica. Sierra placed specimens of a larger orchid with water-holding pseudobulbs, Pleurothallis aristata, and a miniature orchid that does not have pseudobulbs, Maxillaria sp., in a humid and a relatively nonhumid environment to see how the two species’s stomata, or leaf pores, would react. She also took imprints of the two species’ leaves and found that the density of their stomata differed significantly. She concludes that the miniature orchid is likely to be at risk if climate change disrupts the precipitation patterns of the region.

Full-text PDFs of the three articles can be accessed here.

November 27, 2012

ENVS undergrads in Register Guard

Environmental studies undergrads Casey Ellingson and Garrett Dunlavey were featured in the Register Guard recently for their work organizing UO student participants in the Small Steps Big Wins competition, sponsored by the nonprofit Net Impact.

Read the article here.

November 14, 2012

Andrew Dutterer presents at resource management conference

This past June 2012, Andrew Dutterer presented his research and served on a panel discussion at the International Symposium on Society and Resource Management (ISSRM). This year’s ISSRM marked the 18th annual event and was sponsored by the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Andrew presented a research project that he has been working on with PPPM Professor and Department Head, Richard Margerum. Their research examines the limitations of collaboration as an approach to natural resource management at the policy level. Specifically, their work focuses on a case study of collaborative water resource management in Northern California from 1994-2007, known as CALFED. Spanning five days, the conference included several keynote speeches and presentations from hundreds of academics and practitioners in the natural resources field from around the world. The 2013 ISSRM will be held in Estes Park, CO, and will feature Rajendra Kumar Pachauri as the primary keynote speaker (Chairman, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

Andrew Dutterer is a second-year Master’s student in the Environmental Studies program. His interests focus on watershed management and water policy.

November 7, 2012

ENVS grad students implement environmental education project in China

Shane Hall, Alayna Linde, Chithira Vijayakumar, and Marissa Williams traveled to Hunan Province, China, this summer with the UO’s Chinese Philanthropic Leadership Association (CPLA) to teach middle school students about the importance of clean drinking water and to promote the use of WAPIs (Water Pasteurization Indicators). While in China, the WAPI team also traveled 2000 miles along the Xiangjiang river with their local sponsor, the Hunan Environmental Protection Action Association, to learn more about the particular environmental issues that China faces today. Alayna and Marissa reflect back on their experiences abroad:

“Have you heard the story about the thirty middle school students, the four waiguoren (foreigners) and the E. coli? No? Well it’s a good one.

“Any new teacher would be intimidated by thirty incredibly bright, high energy middle schoolers herded back to school for one week of their summer break. Add in a difference of languages (and some wickedly hot weather) and you’ve got a good picture of Shane, Marissa, Chithira, and me, nervously sweating and smiling in front of the students gathered for the ILS project this summer in Hunan.

“But we had luck on our side: luck in the form of amazing volunteer translators and friends from the CPLA and the Hunan Environmental Action Association. With these rockstar volunteers, we were able to form connections with the students and their community and open up dialogue about the environment and how it impacts our daily lives.

“We taught the students how to test their drinking water for Escherichia coli (E. coli), an indicator for bacteria that can cause diarrheal disease. The students discovered that 7 of the 21 samples from their wells and taps at home tested positive for E. coli, posing a high risk to health if untreated. Armed with this knowledge, the students became educators to their parents and community members about the importance of water pasteurization. Over the course of two days, the students helped make around 90 WAPIs for their families and neighbors. The school plans to host another WAPI building workshop later in the year.

“We will always remember the students we met. Even if they eventually forget us (which they might) or the words to “You are my Sunshine” (which they have probably already forgotten), it is our hope that they will remember the importance of water safety and environmental protection, and continue to be learners and leaders for the rest of their lives.”

-Alayna

“I think the greatest accomplishment of our project in China is not the future potential of WAPI implementation in rural households, but is instead the cultural exchange gained by those who participated in our project. As students, volunteers, and project leaders, those involved learned a great deal about each other and the societal expectations of differing nations.

“For me, the biggest surprise while in China was seeing firsthand and learning from locals about the push for development—construction was never-ending and tourism sites were rapidly being restored (to which the sheer number of sand mining boats on Dongting Lake was a testament). Unfortunately, it seems as though China’s primary objective is to develop as quickly as possible, only to deal with the environmental consequences later. While a few individuals, organizations, and companies strive to protect the Earth’s resources, such as our gracious sponsor, the Hunan Environmental Protection Action Association, future generations are often disregarded in an effort to reach the level of affluence seen in countries such as the United States. Nobody can blame them, however, as they deserve nothing less. Therefore, after this experience in China I am even more convinced that more- and less-developed countries must work together to develop in ways that are more sustainable. A greater cross-cultural effort, in which people work cooperatively to make Earth a better place, is necessary to protect our planet. This is one of the many insights gained from such an amazing opportunity for cultural exchange…”

-Marissa

Listen to Alayna and two members of the CPLA discuss their trip on KWVA student radio here.

Julie Bacon gives radio interview

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, Julie Bacon was interviewed recently about indigenous environmental issues on WORT, Madison Wisconsin’s community radio station.

Listen to the full interview here (Julie’s segment begins at about 9:30.)

October 31, 2012

The Ecotone announces theme for 2013 and welcomes submissions

The theme for the 2013 issue of The Ecotone will be body and environment. The Ecotone is the annual interdisciplinary journal produced by the graduate students of the Environmental Studies Program.

The journal is now seeking submissions that explore relationships between body and environment, interpreted broadly: toxic transcorporeality, embodied ecologies, sustainable sustenance, adaptive animals, environmental eroticism, racialized recreation, phenomenological fact-finding, gendered green spaces, etc…

Graduate students, faculty, and staff in any department are invited to submit work for review. Undergraduates who wish to contribute are encouraged to be part of our new Undergrad Writing Mentorship Program. To learn more about this, contact Julie Bacon at ecotonementor@gmail.com.

Submissions may include academic work, creative writing, or visual art.

Please limit

  • academic submissions to 3,000 words
  • essays, fiction, and creative nonfiction to 1,500 words
  • poems and visual art to 3 pieces

The deadline for all submissions is 5:00 pm on Friday, February 1st, 2013. Email questions and submissions to Lisa Lombardo at ecotoneuofo@gmail.com.

The Ecotone 2013 call for submissions poster

2012 issue of The Ecotone

The Ecotone archive

October 25, 2012

Michelle Rau reports back from public lands conference

In September, Michelle Rau attended “The Nation Possessed: The Conflicting Claims on America’s Public Lands,” a conference put on by the Center of the American West and the Public Lands Foundation. Michelle, who graduated in June with a B.S. in Environmental Studies and a B.A. in Planning, Public Policy & Management, served as part of the conference’s preselected thirty-member Student Congress. She reports on her experiences:

“Since its inception as the General Land Office, the BLM has struggled to manage public lands due to conflicting claims over their uses. Recreation, grazing, ranching, mining, conservation, and restoration have long been competing uses on public lands. Now, energy production in the form of fracking, drilling, and renewables adds to the competition on the 245 million acres that are public lands. The goal of the conference was to bring together as many stakeholders as possible to come to a consensus on public land management.

“The conference sessions were very engaging. Besides hearing Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar speak, one of the highlights was a presentation from the Burning Man co-founder and the BLM employee who helped make sure that the festival could continue on BLM lands in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. Who knew?

“The conference was a great opportunity for members of the Student Congress to put our skills into practice with ‘real world’ issues. We worked together to create a document outlining our recommendations for the BLM to consider over the next fifty years. We then presented the document in front of the conference, and the Round Table (key stakeholders at the conference) endorsed our declaration without any major amendments. The Public Lands Foundation has already created a committee to publicize our report and formalize the Student Congress into a recurring event for producing input for the BLM.

“I definitely plan to stay involved in public lands issues in the future. How could you not? Most Americans probably don’t know that one-third of the country is publicly owned. (Also little known is the fact that most countries hardly have public lands at all. Many European countries have minimal public lands; recreation on beautiful lands is thus reserved for those who can afford to pay to visit these privately-owned sites.) This statistic is most important today when energy production is increasing on public lands. Obama introduced this topic in the second presidential debate, so it’s an issue that will certainly become increasingly important.”

To read the three-page document of recommendations produced by the Student Congress, click here.

To read more about the conference and see photos, click here and scroll down.

To view a few more photos from the conference, click here (Michelle is directly to Ken Salazar’s right in the group photo).

Michelle Rau is currently doing an internship with the City of Eugene in the Planning Division.

Shane Hall wins award for essay

Shane Hall’s essay “Thoreau’s Wrecked Earth Renewed:  Dwelling in a Time of Environmental Crisis” received the Jane Campbell Krohn Essay Prize for 2011-12. The UO Department of English bestows this award annually for the best essay by a graduate student in English on the theme of literature and the environment.

Shane Hall is a PhD student in environmental studies and English.

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