December 7, 2016

2016 Western Research Fellows

In its inaugural year, the Western Research Fellowship (WRF) was awarded to applicants interested in issues pertinent to land management in the Rocky Mountain West. Ideal proposals targeted high-impact biophysical or social questions with management implications for private land management in the West. In addition to a generous financial award, fellows are given access to a broad network of partner organizations and properties across the mountain west, as well as technical, logistical, and publication support.

Congratulations to the 2016 Recipients of the Western Research Fellowship:

Jay Chancellor – Developing New Enterprises and Maximizing Enterprise Diversity on Ranches – MT & WY

Jay Chancellor is a first-year Master of Environmental Management candidate at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies with a concentration in Business and Environment. Jay started his career working as a hunting guide in northern Idaho. He has since worked for a number of national and international organizations engaging the hunting and fishing community on energy and environmental issues. Jay studied environmental law and public policy at Princeton University and is from Ellicott City, Maryland.


As a Ucross Fellow, Jay will be working in Bozeman, Montana with Beartooth Capital Partners, a ranchland investment firm focused on environmental impact. His research will center on revenue diversification strategies for Western ranches (renewable energy development, lease of water rights, value-added products, etc.), resulting in a market study that analyzes the profitability of the various options and provides recommendations and clear prescriptions for implementation. Jay hopes this work will benefit individual landowners who have the desire to diversify, but lack access to the resources or knowledge required to follow through.


Taylor Ganz – Acid Deposition in Alpine Lakes – Wind River Mountains, WY

Taylor is a Master in Environmental Science candidate at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. She also holds a BA in Physics from Lewis and Clark College and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from USC. She is a Senior Field Instructor at the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and has previously worked as a lynx conservation researcher, Wilderness ranger and instructor at California State University, Northridge. Taylor is an avid fly-fisher, rock-climber and a wilderness enthusiast.


Taylor’s research focuses on changing snowpack dynamics in the west. Across the Western United States, alpine lakes are undergoing long-term chemical changes. Annual sampling in the Bridger Wilderness of the Wind River Range of Wyoming has shown that lakes are increasing in nitrogen content and slowly acidifying. Through focusing on the snowmelt pulse, she aims to identify the driving causes of these changes. With over 70% of water in the American west coming from snowpack, it is highly important to understand the factors influencing this water reservoir.


See Taylor’s most recent update from the field here.


Dan Kane – Soil Carbon Mapping at Fine Scales – Ten Sleep, Lander, Cody, Clearmont, WY & Roundup, MT

Dan Kane is an incoming Ph.D. student in the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies who will be working with Dr. Mark Bradford on soil biogeochemistry. Dan has a M.S. in Crop and Soil Science from Michigan State University and a B.A. in Biology from Middlebury College. Dan’s research interests include soil carbon/nitrogen cycles and the links between agriculture and climate change. Prior to his career as a scientist, Dan worked as a farmer and bicycle mechanic.


As a Western Research Fellow Dan will be developing a protocol to map soil carbon stocks to help land managers monitor how changes in management are impacting their soils. Current monitoring tools are often cost-prohibitive and require a large number of samples, making it difficult for land managers to monitor what progress they might be making to improve their land. New technology that collects near-infrared data from soil samples can quickly quantify soil carbon concentrations at lower cost. Dan will combine data generated using this method with data from more traditional lab methods and publicly available GIS datasets in spatial models to produce estimates of soil carbon across rangelands.


Lucyann Murray – Mobile Slaughter Business Plan Development – Douglas, WY

Lucyann is a second year joint degree MBA/MF candidate. Her studies at Yale are focused on sustainable land management and financing. She spent this past summer working in impact investing for Sustainable America in Stamford, CT where she built a business plan for sustainable ranching & ecotourism with Kunoa Cattle, located in Kauai, HI. As a Western Research Fellow, Lucyann will focus on building a business plan for a mobile slaughter unit in eastern Wyoming to help facilitate grass-fed beef production and sales throughout the state. She will be working with conservation partner Boot Ranch, a multi-generational family owned ranch in Douglas, Wyoming beginning to transition from cow-calf production to grass finishing.


Josh Morse – Social Context Mapping along the Red Desert to Hoback Mule Deer Migration – Lander & Pinedale, WY

Josh Morse is a backpacker, fly fisherman, and naturalist with an interest in the human stories behind land and wildlife conservation. A western Massachusetts native, Josh cut his teeth as a biologist and land steward working with private landowners to protect working forests and agricultural land in the Connecticut River Valley. There, he discovered that the social systems that undergird conservation are just as fascinating as the wildlife and working lands that drive conservation work, and just as important to successful conservation outcomes. For his masters, Josh is mapping the social context and documenting human stories that surround the effort to study and protect Wyoming’s longest big game movement, the Red Desert to Hoback mule deer migration.


The Red Desert to Hoback mule deer migration traverses 150 miles of public and private lands under various management regimens, and is one of the longest remaining big game movements in the lower 48 (Sawyer et al 2014). Ecologically, the combination of the migration’s intrinsic value and imperilment in the face of residential and industrial development makes a strong case for conservation (Elsebree 2015). However, while the natural science of the Red Desert to Hoback migration has been well documented and applied to policy projections, a corresponding effort to map the social and cultural context in which the migration occurs has not been undertaken. As a Western Research Fellow with UHPSI, I will travel the Red Desert to Hoback migration corridor and southwestern Wyoming interviewing private landowners, hunters, municipal leaders, scientists, energy industry representatives, and other stakeholders whose voices and experiences are shaping the conservation process surrounding the migration. By gathering their stories and searching for recurring themes, conflicts, opportunities, and lessons, I hope to bring a new dimension to the policy process unfolding around migration management in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem.


Becca Shively – Engaging Landowners/Ranchers on Use of Beneficial Federal Programs – Wallowa County, OR

Rebecca (Becca) Shively is an Oregonian and a first year Masters of Environmental Management candidate at Yale. Her primary interest is in Western land and water conservation achieved through collaborative local partnerships between rural communities, agricultural producers and public land managers. Becca’s professional experiences range from international development and microfinance programming in rural India; emergency and school nutrition services in rural Northern California; and for the past 4 years, federal policy at USDA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. There, she worked in several capacities with the Farm Service Agency, U.S. Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service on interagency coordination related to local food systems, drought resilience, and water policy. She completed a B.A. in Political Science and International Studies at the University of Oregon in Eugene, OR.


As a Western Research Fellow, Becca will be based out of Portland, OR working with the Rural Voices for Conservation Coalition and their sponsoring organization, Wallowa Resources. Her work will focus on two policy research projects: the first, focused on exploring the successes and challenges of a suite of lesser-known federal authorities and tools that community partners can utilize to meet conservation objectives; and the second, a regional analysis of successful partnership models between federal land managers and grazing permit holders that increase rancher flexibility while improving allotment monitoring. Through this research, Becca hopes to promote regional policy learning and empower RVCC partners to advocate for federal authorities that accomplish conservation work while supporting rural economies.


Sara Rose Tannenbaum – Journalism in Landscapes of Conflict — Pinedale, Sublette County, WY

Sara Rose is a second year Masters of Environmental Management candidate with a passion for collaborative stewardship of working and contested landscapes. She spent last summer in Ireland learning about traditional cattle farming and wooing cows with her whistling. This summer she will be based in Pinedale, Wyoming. There she will write for a local newspaper, The Pinedale Roundup, while exploring new ways to tell stories about the American West. Her research focuses on land management conflicts and the coalitions that arise from them.


Click here to see our WRF activities in the field.