Wildlife students partner with natural resource agencies to develop conservation policy skills
A University of Idaho Service Learning Grant provided funding for wildlife students to conduct a conservation project on Ten Mile Creek Ranch near Lewiston. The students worked with the Palouse Land Trust, Idaho Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on a conservation easement to protect 28 species of wintering birds and other vulnerable plant and animal species on the 2,800-acre ranch owned by Rick Rupp and Bill Mathews.
“Working with local land owners on this project gives students real-world opportunities to collaborate with state agencies and federal agencies, practice presentation skills and conduct research that that could be used to improve management,” said Lisette Waits, associate professor and instructor.
Wildife students practiced investigative science and developed important conservation policy recommendations by
- conducting bird counts
- evaluating bighorn sheep habitat use
- assessing the abundance of spawning salmon
Students also developed long-term monitoring protocols for birds, natural springs and vegetation on the property. Additionally, three CNR students in Lee Vierling's remote sensing class developed a vegetation map for the property as a class project.
Final reports were given to Rupp and Mathews to help guide future management and habitat monitoring for the area. Additionally, three students will continue to develop their projects into senior theses over the next couple of years.
By participating in hands-on learning experiences, wildlife students are well prepared for careers in:
- State and federal agencies
- Consulting firms
- Natural resources and non-profit organizations
“Ten Mile Creek Ranch was extremely pleased to have University of Idaho students use our property to advance the study of natural resources. Our working relationship has been easy and rewarding - a true winning relationship,” said Rupp. “We will use what we learn from their projects to make the property, which has home owners living on it, a better natural habitat. We hope more property owners might consider doing a similar experience.”
Palouse Land Trust, Idaho Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; land owners Rick Rupp and Bill Mathews; Lisette Waits, associate professor of wildlife resources; Lee Vierling, associate professor of rangeland ecology and management; wildlife undergraduate and graduate students.