Friday, August 18, 2017

Using Remote Sensing to Measure Riparian Buffers

My mini project this summer was to use remote sensing to look at riparian buffers in Wilson Creek and the Annis Creek Watershed. Remote sensing is the science of obtaining information about an object without being physically near that object. Riparian buffers is a strip of natural vegetation along the side of waterways that are meant to keep sediment and pollutants out of them.    

The Wilson Creek and Annis Creek Watershed is an area of 46,946 acres. By comparing, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Cropland Data Layer (CDL) map and the Department of Natural Resources‘ Wiscland map to the United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Imagery Program (NAIP) imagery, I analyzed how many acres of riparian buffer each watershed has, as well as the amounts of properties that have riparian buffers around Wilson Creek and Annis Creek.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Diving In: Conservation Conversations north of Highway 64

We spend a lot of time talking about “the environment.”
We talk a lot about what can we do to protect the environment, to improve it- as if we could somehow take a step back and see the planet as separate from ourselves.  The academic and mainstream discourse surrounding our natural resources often tends to be from an outside perspective: eager plans to shape and defend and save the world... plans made from a calculated distance.  In this summer’s anthropology project, I had to strive to hit the sweet spot of ethnographic research: become a part of the community I wanted to comprehend while maintaining a clear and focused role in data collection and analysis.  The comforts of graphs and charts and correlations disappeared as I tried to grasp how a society realizes its relationship with the lakes and waterways that surround it.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Wading Forward

There is a place just outside of Colfax, WI, off of highway 40, where a person can put on some waders, step into a stream, and imagine that they are a pioneer exploring their way through new territory. I have been to this place where the silt grabbed at my feet and the water flirted dangerously close to the tops of my waders. Eighteen Mile Creek is beautiful. It looks pristine as it rustles softly over the rocks at its bottom, but this creek has a secret that it shares with many other streams and rivers in the Red Cedar Watershed. It is absolutely full of P.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Utilizing Diverse Communities within Menomonie for Water Quality through Community Organizations

I’ve learned in the past few years of my life that community is a crucial element of what’s important to me. But for me, that has only been defined as far as having people around me who are supportive and make me feel at home. This summer I’ve had the chance to really think about what makes a community works, how it actually functions, and how it creates change. The more academic, but helpful, term for this is community capacity. It’s a concept that includes elements that work together to accomplish just that, a functioning community. These elements include having a sense of community, commitment, being able to define and access resources, as well as the ability to set and achieve goals. Actually thinking about the elements that contribute to a community is valuable when it comes to solving issues. At this point in my life, my interactions with community have been transitory – traveling and moving around, working seasonal jobs, being a student. I haven’t had the chance to establish myself as part of a long-term community yet. Having the opportunity to have a glimpse of what that looks like and study it this summer in Menomonie has been insightful. It is very fitting then that my final research project revolved around this idea of how community organizations can contribute to the community’s capacity for changes in water quality.  

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Long Live Nach Raff: A Summer Session in Policy Analysis and Interdisciplinary Fun

“We are all born with a unique genetic blueprint, which lays out the basic characteristics of our personality as well as our physical health and appearance...And yet, we all know that life experiences do change us.”
- Joan D. Vinge

Purpose. Many aspects of life are centered upon a sense of purpose, upon the “why?” factor that either motivates us or moves us to find another use for our time. Fortunately, this summer was devoid of the latter and saturated with the former. The beginning of these past eight weeks was nothing short of a search for purpose as I tried to find my footing within the larger scope of the program. Thanks to the guidance and support of my faculty mentor Zach Raff, that purpose was found in short order as we promptly set our research project in motion. While I was excited to begin and well aware of how rewarding the process would be, I quickly realized that this summer was going to be a lot more than an exercise in research exposure; the experience as a whole would shape my career goals and personal outlook on what it means to find one’s niche in the world.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Trading Manure for Fertilizer May Improve Water Quality

       The water in Dunn County is green. We know nutrient runoff is a major contributor to the algal blooms that can be found in Lakes Menomin and Tainter, but how can we most effectively reduce the amount of these nutrients getting into our lakes and rivers?  

Friday, August 4, 2017

Water Quality's Impact on the Red Cedar Watershed Economy

Environmental sustainability has gotten a lot of attention in the last few years, and with it, has come even more controversy. Many will claim that protecting the environment hurts businesses and cuts jobs by making it more complicated to grow due to more regulations. However, my research (accompanied by Madison Biggs and Chris Ferguson) has proved otherwise.