*Applications will be reviewed on a rolling-basis.
USFS Office/Lab and Location: A fellowship opportunity is available with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) at the Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW) located in Riverside, California.
At the heart of the U.S. Forest Service’s mission is their purpose. Everything they do is intended to help sustain forests and grasslands for present and future generations. Why? Because their stewardship work supports nature in sustaining life. This is the purpose that drives the agency’s mission and motivates their work across the agency. It’s been there from the agency’s very beginning, and it still drives them. To advance the mission and serve their purpose, the U.S. Forest Service balances the short and long-term needs of people and nature by: working in collaboration with communities and our partners; providing access to resources and experiences that promote economic, ecological, and social vitality; connecting people to the land and one another; and delivering world-class science, technology and land management.
Research Project: Sustainable outdoor recreation is one of the most widely recognized ecosystem services provided by national forests and other public lands. Each year, half of the US population participated in at least one outdoor activity. Understanding current outdoor recreation preferences, potential future demand for outdoor recreation, and the environmental impacts that outdoor recreation is critical for public land managers particularly in landscapes undergoing disturbances such as fire, invasives, climate change, urbanization and increasing visitor use. The potential for outdoor recreation is “the capacity of ecosystems to provide recreation according to their scenic beauty or specific characteristics”. As such the ecosystem services framework that links ecosystem characteristics and processes with how human’s value nature’s services can help us understand the value different user groups place on these changing landscapes.
Assessing the public’s use, potential impacts on, and values for different types of ecosystem conditions is key to understanding the public’s demand for: sustainable outdoor recreation, restoration goals, important ecosystem co-benefits and other land management targets. Much of the existing research on recreation preferences of different user groups in Southern California is over 10 years old and likely not reflect generational shifts and demographic changes.
The San Dimas Experimental Forest (SDEF) and nearby sites on the Angeles National Forest offer an opportunity to understand these issues in a controlled setting with: different conditions and impacts, (low vs high visitor numbers, low vs high invasives occurrence, old growth vs highly impacted forests), potential users (local residents, foreign tourists, underserved communities) and societal values (e.g. shade, invasive vs native plant diversity, viewsheds, water quality). Although the SDEF has been closed to the public for decades, it is adjacent to an urban area with millions of potential users that are within 1.5 hours of 4 National Forests.
The selected candidate will utilize their expertise in social science, natural resources, or statistics to aid in the discussion with land managers, stakeholders, and recreationists to understand preferred outdoor recreation activities in the Angeles National Forest and possibly in the SDEF. The candidate will co-lead focus groups, surveys, and data collection to assess the outdoor recreation impacts on the SDEF and nearby forest.
Learning Objectives: As a result of this training the participant will improve their skills in conducting focus groups, developing surveys, and data analysis.
Anticipated Appointment Start Date: June 1, 2022. Start date is flexible and will depend on a variety of factors.
Appointment Length: The appointment will initially be for one year, but may be extended an additional year upon recommendation of USFS and is contingent on the availability of funds.
Level of Participation: The appointment is full-time.
Participant Stipend: The participant will receive a monthly stipend commensurate with educational level and experience.
COVID-19 Requirements: The successful applicant(s) will be required to comply with Environmental, Safety and Health (ES&H) requirements of the hosting facility, including but not limited to, COVID-19 requirements (e.g. facial covering, physical distancing, testing, vaccination).
ORISE Information: This program, administered by ORAU through its contract with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to manage the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), was established through an interagency agreement between DOE and USFS. Participants do not become employees of USDA, USFS, DOE or the program administrator, and there are no employment-related benefits. Proof of health insurance is required for participation in this program. Health insurance can be obtained through ORISE.