Recent Submissions

  • The Importance of communication in land use planning for interior Alaska: a participant observation study

    Lunsford, Olivia K.; Trainor, Sarah; Veazey, Pips; Dawe, Janice (2019-04)
    Three case studies (i.e., (1) FNSB Marijuana Zoning, (2) The Joint Land Use Study, and (3) Rethinking Smith Ranch) were examined in the context of land use planning to assist the reader in understanding some of the challenges a second-class borough in Alaska faces. The researcher utilized an opportunity with the Fairbanks North Star Borough to perform a participant observation study which demonstrated the complexity in engaging and communicating with citizens of the area. The researcher identified the three following critical themes and referenced planning literature to analyze them: (1) challenges to accomplishing goals, (2) the importance of communication, and (3) potential solutions to overcoming challenges. Upon identifying the challenges experienced both during the case studies, as well as outside of the case studies, the researcher determined possible solutions to help the borough’s Department of Community Planning overcome the difficulties associated with communication and engagement of citizens.
  • Are sustainable livelihoods critical to the success of community-based marine protected areas?

    Olivier, Nina A. (2018-05)
    Three community-based marine protected areas (CBMPAs) in the Visayas, Philippines were analyzed based on how well they incorporated sustainable livelihood programs into their overall management and planning for those displaced by the CBMPA. Through reviewing management plans and reports, the CBMPAs were then assessed to see whether including alternative livelihoods in these three cases was correlated with greater overall success. Each CBMPA was scored based on their alternative livelihoods and overall success. Management stakeholder perception surveys were also conducted for two of the CBMPA sites studied. Apo Island Marine Reserve scored the highest for its criteria for sustainable livelihood development and criteria for success of a CBMPA. Alternatively, Lawi Marine Reserve scored equivalent to that of Balcon Marine Protected Area for its criteria for sustainable livelihood development, yet the lowest for its criteria for success of a CBMPA. The most successful CBMPA was Apo Island Marine Reserve due to the incorporation of human dimensions into their management planning that helped them create sustainable livelihood programs that increased the community's compliance with the rules and regulations of the CBMPA. In contrast, Balcon Marine Protected Area and Lawi Marine Reserve did not have sustainable livelihood programs in place and their success was far below that of Apo Island. Thus, the overall success of these CBMPAs appears to be strongly correlated with alternative livelihood programs, however further study is needed to determine if this correlation between alternative livelihoods and success is true for the majority of CBMPAs in the Philippines.
  • Marine associated bird and mammal habitat use at the Five Finger Lighthouse Island

    Beraha, Lori (2018-07)
    In summer 2017 I studied the abundance and distribution of marine associated birds and mammals from four observational points on the southernmost of the Five Finger Islands (FFI). My objectives were (1) to identify the areas of highest habitat use by species of conservation concern, and (2) to use this information to make recommendations for an ecosystem-based management plan at the Five Finger Lighthouse Island (FFLI). I found higher relative abundance and higher biodiversity of both birds and marine mammals on the South and West facing sectors compared to the North and East facing sectors. I attribute this to the greater habitat complexity that comprises a near-shore reef, a mixed kelp forest, and a channel between the reef and the side of the island with the highest cliff, areas used extensively for foraging, nesting, traveling, socializing, and resting by many of the documented species. I therefore recommend avoiding development and minimizing anthropogenic disturbance on the southern and western portions of the island including the adjacent reef and channel between the reef and island. As both the FFI ecosystem and the Five Finger Lighthouse (FFL) management continue to evolve in response to changing environmental conditions and human needs, this study provides a useful baseline for future comparison. Continued study and monitoring is also recommended at this site to inform future adaptive management, document changes over time, and engage community stakeholders in science and conservation.
  • A history and analysis of the efforts of the Ahtna people of South-Central Alaska to secure a priority to hunt moose on their ancestral lands

    Schacht, Eric; Todd, Susan; Holen, Davin; Fix, Peter (2015-08)
    The purpose of this study is to document the decades-long struggle of the Ahtna people of south-central Alaska to secure the priority to hunt moose in their ancestral lands. The study details the changes in moose hunting regulations in Game Management Unit 13 from the first permit hunt in 1960 to the current era as well as the changes in the number of hunters, number of moose harvests, and success of hunters by area of residence (local vs. non-local). This study summarizes changes in regulations regarding rural preference for subsistence hunters and the court cases challenging those provisions. It outlines the strategies the Ahtna have used over the years to try to secure a priority to hunt moose. It also discusses the importance of moose hunting to the culture of the Ahtna people and the cultural impacts of changes in subsistence harvest regulations. The results demonstrate that under the current management and regulatory structure, Ahtna people and other local residents of the Copper Basin are not getting enough moose and they persistently feel the pressure from non-local hunters. The Ahtna counter this by continually engaging the natural resource management and regulatory process, maintaining subsistence lifestyles, and increasing their wildlife management capacity so that in the future they will have more moose on their land and a greater ability to control this important aspect of their culture. The study also provides recommendations regarding future subsistence moose hunting regulations in the region.
  • State of Alaska exposure for the dismantle, removal, & restoration obligations of hydrocarbon leases in Cook Inlet: an assessment of how current mechanisms of non-bonded coverage increase this risk over time

    McIntyre, Haley (2015-05)
    This Master's of Natural Resource Management and Geography project assesses the potential liability the State of Alaska faces with the non-bonded coverage of Dismantle, Removal, and Restoration obligations associated with hydrocarbon leases on state managed lands in Cook Inlet. There are four components to this assessment. First, a Chain-of-Title spreadsheet documents the percentage of Working Interest Ownership held by all companies in study leases from the time of first production through February 2015. Second, a Degrees-of-Separation spreadsheet measures the layers of corporate separation from previous lessees to entities in existence today that could perform obligations. Third, a Special Purpose Entity spreadsheet indicates lease percentages held by companies with corporate histories of less than three years prior to assumption of a Cook Inlet lease. And four, a written opus that describes the relationships between these spreadsheets and how they demonstrate that under current mechanisms of non-bonded coverage the State of Alaska's exposure to Dismantle, Removal, and Restoration liability increases through time as the hydrocarbon reserves in the ground reach the end of productive life.
  • Developing communication tools for resource management in western Alaska: an evaluation of the Western Alaska Landscape Conservation Cooperative coastal projects database

    Warner, Nicole; Trainor, Sarah; Greenburg, Joshua; Fix, Peter (2017)
    Science communication is an essential component in decision-making for resource management in Alaska. This field aids in bridging knowledge gaps between scientists and diverse stakeholders. In 2014, the Western Alaska LCC developed a database cataloging the current coastal change projects in order to facilitate collaboration amongst researchers, managers, and the surrounding communities. In order to better inform similar outreach projects in other LCC regions, this MNRM project entailed an evaluation of this database between April and September 2016 and comprised a ten-question phone interview with the database participants and other involved personnel. Results from this evaluation can help refine the database to better suit its users' needs in the future, and it can also inform the creation of similar tools in other LCC regions. This project evaluated the use and usability of the Western Alaska LCC Coastal Change Database. First, I review coastal change and its impacts on Western Alaska. Next, I explore how institutions can respond to these changes and what resources they can use, including decision-support tools. I then provide examples of different decision-support tools (both in academic literature and in Alaskan projects) and discuss methodologies for evaluating their use. Interview results are then reported. The evaluation of the WALCC Coastal Change Database indicated that the tool was mostly used to enhance general understanding of the research occurring in the region. Respondents were less likely to use it for time-intensive tasks such as collaboration. Respondents also indicated that a place exists for tools like this database to flourish, but they need 1) persistent outreach, 2) a dynamic design, and 3) immediate benefits for users' time. In the future, regular updates and frequent outreach could improve the database's usability and help maintain its credibility.
  • Perceptions of success: a case study of planning for climate change in Shaktoolik, Alaska

    Tangen, Stefan G. (2017-12)
    Climate change planning is increasingly used in places like northwest Alaska where people are dealing with the effects of global climate change in dramatic and life altering ways. Planning for climate change often involves multiple actors from all levels of government working together with various goals, motivations, and perceptions of success. This research provides a perspective on what compelled the community of Shaktoolik to formally plan for climate change, documenting who they worked with throughout the process, the dynamics involved, and the outcomes created. I used a case study approach and qualitative methods in the form of participant observation, semi-structured interviews (n=26), and document analysis (n=18) to understand the ways in which community and non-community actors perceive successful climate adaptation planning in Shaktoolik, Alaska. I utilized seven dimensions of success from the literature to provide a framework during the data collection process and for data analysis. Due to a history of relocation in the region the community of Shaktoolik is familiar with adapting to the local environment, yet this is becoming more difficult as western infrastructure increases. In climate adaptation planning in Shaktoolik actors agreed on the roles different actors should play in planning for climate change at the community level. Additional findings include the importance of several key concepts such as social learning, social capital, leadership, and relationships among stakeholders. The climate adaptation planning model in Shaktoolik is moving in a positive direction and may be useful for other rural indigenous communities to replicate.
  • Baseline data of bird populations in the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, Mexico: a citizen science approach

    Anderson, Teresa S.; Fix, Peter J.; Carsten-Conner, Laura D.; Dalle-Molle, Lois K. (2017-12)
    This project tested the viability of converting a local environmental education group, "Eco Chavos" into a team of citizen scientists. In rural biosphere reserves in Mexico, with few resources and large resident populations, community-based biological inventory and monitoring has the potential to increase the impact of Mexican biosphere reserves by generating scientific information and engaging local residents in hands-on environmental education. To test this, I formed a citizen science birding group and trained them in bird identification, survey techniques, data collection, and data management. The project began in January 2016 and in December 2016 I stopped mentoring the program and let it continue under its own leadership. Our team was composed of an Eco Chavos group and a resident ornithologist who conducted land and water-based surveys multiple times a month. As of August 2017, 160 bird species have been registered, including three species endemic to Mexico; the Crimson-collared Grosbeak (Rhodothraupis celaeno), Blue Mockingbird (Melanotis caerulescens), and Spotted Wren (Campylorhynchus gularis). The survey provided an inventory of bird diversity in the reservoir, and could serve as a starting point to measure occurrence and abundance over time. The data were published in the updated management plan of the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve as well as in a new bird book, Guía de Aves de la Presa Jalpan. A new community group, "Aves de la Presa Jalpan" was formed and contributed information via an online public database. The database may be used by the international network of bird monitors to analyze population trends in both local Mexican bird populations and in international bird migrations. In addition, participants showed increased bird identification skills, leadership, increased interest in birds, and engagement in project tasks and planning. Infrastructure was built to encourage birdwatching tourism in the Biosphere Reserve and the foundation was set to continue this research in the future.
  • Exploring the relationship between forest resource users and their disappearing forest: what do rural Gambians think are the causes and solutions for deforestation?

    Harris, Samantha; Todd, Susan; Gasbarro, Tony; Seefeldt, Steven (2017-06)
    This is a case study of a small rural community in The Gambia where I was a Peace Corps volunteer for 27 months. The savannah woodland there is classified as a dry tropical forest and like many such areas in the Sahel, the population is growing rapidly. During my time there, I observed a great dependence on local forests but no apparent management. One man told me, "If all the trees perish, then we will all perish." Given this level of dependence, I was surprised to see little evidence that they were planting trees or taking other measures to protect the forest. I wanted to find out just how dependent people were on the forest and whether they saw deforestation as a problem. If they saw it as a problem, what did they feel were the causes of it and what did they think would solve it? Since I was living in the area, I was able to use participant observation as a method in my research. I also used semi-structured interviews of key informants and focus group interviews in five communities that were located close together. I found that the people are extremely dependent on the local forest for firewood, lumber for houses and fences, foods like baobab and mangoes, and herbs for medicines (they had limited access to commercial medicines). This dependence places them in a precarious situation as rural poverty and food insecurity forces farmers to expand their agricultural fields at the expense of the forests. Everyone saw deforestation as a problem and noted that they have to walk farther to gather firewood and that the forest was once thick with trees and wild animals, but now "many trees have perished" and there are few animals. They saw population growth as the primary cause of deforestation, because that forces them to clear trees to make room to grow more crops. They also mentioned illegal logging, drought and bushfires as problems for the forest. They viewed tree planting as the primary solution and would like to plant trees near their homes where they could protect them, but there are a host of challenges to growing seedlings in this region. The biggest problems are watering the seedlings, as that requires carrying many gallons of water to each seedling on a daily basis, and protecting young trees from termites as well as goats and other animals. They would like to have more support from the Gambian government to teach them better ways to plant and grow trees, to learn more about manure and other ways to improve soil fertility, to help them pay for good fences, and to combat bushfires. There are many studies regarding tree planting, but few of them address the cultural perspective of forest use and management in the way this study does. These people face a life-threatening dilemma in trying to solve the problem of deforestation. They have had little success planting trees and will face serious shortages of essential items like firewood, lumber, medicines and food if the problem continues. They do not have the income to buy these goods. I hope this study will contribute to understanding the complexity of the situation, which in turn should assist NGOs and others to develop workable solutions to the problem of deforestation in this and other dry tropical forests of the Sahel.
  • The effects of freezing and storage time on the quality of reindeer meat

    Aguiar, George A.; Finstad, Gregory L.; Bechtel, Peter J.; Wiklund, Eva (2017-08)
    Restaurants, wholesalers and retailers of fresh meat require a year round consistent supply of uniform quality product to sustain demand and justify niche market costs such as advertisement and stocking product. Frozen reindeer meat could be stored, short or long term to increase availability provided there are no adverse effects of freezing. No studies to date have evaluated the effects of freezing and storage time on reindeer meat quality. Nine reindeer steers (castrated bulls; age 2.5 years) were fed a balanced milled ration at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) Reindeer Research Program (RRP) facility at the Agricultural Forestry Experiment Station (AFES). In February, animals were transported to a USDA approved meat processing facility for slaughter where both striploins (M. longissimus dorsi) were removed from the carcasses. The striploin samples were allocated to four subsamples consisting of fresh (control), freshly frozen, 6 month frozen and 12 month frozen treatment groups to determine if freezing and frozen storage of reindeer meat for up to one year effects meat quality. All samples underwent shear force measurement, water holding capacity (WHC) determination, proximate analysis, sensory evaluation, TBARS (rancidity) and fatty acid methyl ester profile (FAMES) analysis. Meat was sampled after 6 months of frozen storage for amino acid and mineral analysis. Shear force values were not significantly different amongst treatment groups fresh to 12 month (P=0.992). Purge and cooking loss variation were significant between fresh and 12 months (P = 1e-05,1e-04). There was no significant difference from fresh to 12 month in moisture, ash and protein content while lipid content variation was significantly different (P = 0.99, 1.00, 1.00 and < 1e -6 respectively). Tenderness and juiciness attributes were not significantly different among treatment groups fresh and 12 month (P=0.91 and P=0.53); however, an off flavor attribute was significantly different (P=0.005) amongst treatment groups suggesting that off flavor diminishes with freezing. While not detected in sensory evaluation, mean TBARS (rancidity) values increased significantly (P = <.1e-04) between fresh and 12 months. Characterization of reindeer muscle indicated that the amino acid profile and selected mineral were consistent with that of a high quality nutritional meat product. Omega 3 fatty acid (W3), Omega 6 fatty acid (W6), Monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA), Polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), the ratio between Omega 3 and Omega 6 (W3/W6) and the ratio between PUFA and MUFA (PS) were not significantly different while Saturated fatty acid (SAFA) was significantly different amongst treatments groups from fresh to 12 months. (P= 0.35, 1.00, 0.96, 0.12, 1.00, 0.14 and 0.03). Results of this study suggest reindeer meat can be frozen for up to a year without compromising quality. This could facilitate the marketing flexibility for the reindeer industry to be able to provide a consistent supply of product year round to niche restaurants and wholesalers while commanding a premium price.
  • Development and implementation of an elementary place-based science curriculum for the Yakutat School District

    Liben, Sarah; Todd, Susan; Conner, Laura; Ramos, Judith; Taras, Mike; Fabbri, Cindy (2017-05)
    The need for citizens with a fundamental knowledge of science who understand the interconnections between living things as well as the impact of science on society is more important than ever. To achieve this goal, studies show that major changes to the structure of science curriculum must be made in order to incorporate all aspects of: 1) inquiry-based instruction; 2) strategies that elicit students' prior knowledge; 3) building conceptual understandings; and 4) integrating an ongoing assessment process that provides feedback to students and informs instruction. These suggested changes are articulated in the recent Next Generation Science Standards. In order to construct an elementary science curriculum for the Yakutat School District, I utilized the Understanding by Design (UBD) framework to develop individual "investigations" that were formulated around the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). A place-based framework was constructed for each investigation using the GRASPS Performance Assessment model and Learning A-Z place-based instructional process. Existing lessons and activities that aligned with the NGSS and place-based framework were included in each investigation, and where there were gaps in addressing the standards, I utilized the BSCS (Biological Science Curriculum Studies) 5Es Learning Model to write a series of lessons for each investigation. Ultimately, I developed two curricula for the following grade levels: K-2 and 5-6. Curricula were divided into overarching units that contained between 1-5 investigations, or subunits, each of which were framed around 1-3 NGSS. This project's practical importance was to provide a curriculum for a school district that had no preexisting science curriculum. This curriculum is important to the field of science education, as it serves as a model that integrates western science and traditional knowledge in the context of the Next Generation Science Standards.
  • An approach to understanding community members' perceptions of climate change in three rural indigenous Mexican communities

    Kent, Tricia (2017-05)
    This case study describes an approach to understanding community members' perceptions of climate change in three rural indigenous communities in the Tehuacan-Cuicatlan Biosphere Reserve in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico. Seven participatory tools were applied to assess community members' experience of current climate change conditions, the challenges posed by changing conditions, and their communities' efforts to adapt. Tools, such as the Stratified Timeline, that provided community members time to work in groups and reflect on the questions they were asked allowed them to better express their knowledge of climate change than tools that isolated community members or used technical language such as the Pre and Post-Test. Although community members were generally aware of changes in their climate, they were unfamiliar with the concept of adaptation or of how certain activities could help them adapt. Through their responses to these seven tools, community members expressed their belief that the climate is in fact changing in their region of Oaxaca. The biggest concern in all three communities was the lack of seasonal rains, which was affecting their ability to farm and ensure food security. Some adaptations, provided through soil and water conservation projects, were being undertaken in the region through governmental entities such as the Tehuacan-Cuicatlan Biosphere Reserve, but there is great need and much interest in having more of these types of projects implemented, to help communities adapt to climate change.