24 May Don’t Fear the NEPA and Other Adventures
It feels like my first week has been a whirlwind of trainings and introductions, but it has been hectic in the best way possible. I have been relishing the beautiful hikes and the opportunity to meet so many people who genuinely love their jobs, but in the back of my mind I am just itching to sink my teeth into my project. Early on, my supervisors and I found time to clarify my goals. Under the division of resource management and more specifically the visitor use management plan, I will be figuring out a way to record baseline social trail conditions and create criteria that will allow citizen scientists to easily monitor them in the future. Next week I will start seriously researching and formulating, but now I want to take some time to appreciate experiences I don’t want to forget.
There were many, but the one I’ll share happened on my very first day. I was able to sit in on a NEPA compliance meeting about a hazardous parking lot serving a popular trail. I learned about NEPA in school and memorized the purpose of the law, but to see it in action and watch how a biologist, cultural resource expert, and friends group representative wrestle with the same question imparts a different level of understanding.
My enthusiasm for natural resource science has only grown throughout my first week on the job. I feel that my experience is fulfilling what internships are supposed to be at their best – allowing students to see how the things they learn about in class unfold in the real world and exposing them to potential career paths along the way. Like any other week, there were high points – observing a bald eagle preening high up in the tree overlooking the same river that caught fire a mere 50 years ago – and low points – shaking an alarming number of ticks out of my hair – but that was a bad example because nothing can nullify the majesty of a bald eagle. What I mean to say is that I am excited for the weeks to come.
Lastly, for anyone who is faithfully following my updates, here’s some closure: I did go on that hike last Saturday with my dog. Check back in next week to see how my project is progressing!