Fostering land stewardship and conservation in the American West
through teaching, research, outreach and leadership.
Browse current applied, collaborative research projects
Get the latest updates from students as they chronicle their work
Find out about our programs and how they engage students with western partners
Learn what aspects are at our core and meet our team
program impacts 2021
Ucross High Plains Stewardship Initiative (UHPSI) within the Yale School of the Environment focuses on stewardship and conservation in the American West. At its core, UHPSI seeks to engage in teaching, research, and outreach on land stewardship, primarily through mentoring students on applied research and management projects with western partners.
Justin Farrell, PhD
Michelle Downey, MS
2022 Annual Report
Check our UHPSI’s newly released 2022 Annual Report! Read about student projects, impacts, and journeys from the past year.
Making the Case for Cattle—Kathleen Voight
Championing the ecological importance of cattle grazing doesn’t always land well in environmental groups. Pushback often quotes methane emissions, a warming climate, societal collapse and so on. Yet, across rural areas of the western United States, entire communities depend on cattle. Over one-third of the land area of the United States is rangeland, undeveloped land Read more about Making the Case for Cattle—Kathleen Voight[…]
Out in the Cold—Delaney Heileman
On December 31, 2020, the Kayenta Coal mine in Arizona officially closed its doors, bringing an end to nearly 40 years of operation on the Navajo Nation. While the closure of the mine has been met with a mix of emotions, there is no denying the significant impact it has had on the Hopi people, Read more about Out in the Cold—Delaney Heileman[…]
Evaluating Mesic Restoration Efforts in Montana with Geospatial Tools
In conjunction with The Nature Conservancy-Montana (TNC), Montana Conservation Corps (MCC), and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), our team is creating a protocol to evaluate the impacts of low-tech stuctures, sometimes referred to as beaver dam analogs, that have been installed in central Montana. This protocol will leverage GIS and remote sensing technologies, challenging our team Read more about Evaluating Mesic Restoration Efforts in Montana with Geospatial Tools[…]
Funding Priorities for Improving Ecological Value and Agricultural Viability on Colorado Rangelands
Kathleen Voight is working with the Additive Conservation department of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust (CCALT) to determine funding priorities for their internally-managed Agricultural Resiliency Fund. CCALT holds easements over 700,000 acres of ranchland across Colorado, with the goal of conserving working landscapes for the benefit of future generations. The Agricultural Resiliency Fund will Read more about Funding Priorities for Improving Ecological Value and Agricultural Viability on Colorado Rangelands[…]
On Developing a Systems Thinking Model—Julia Chen
George E. P. Box once said that “All models are wrong, but some are useful.” As we try to make sense of the world, we attempt to rationalize the patterns we see and how they are connected. However, generalizing these connections often narrows our views and eventually solidifies the basic facts we begin to organize Read more about On Developing a Systems Thinking Model—Julia Chen[…]
Beavers and Space—Sam Wilson
It’s December here in New Haven, Connecticut. The leaves have all fallen, the grass is done growing, and the days are getting quite short. It also means that Christmas is right around the corner. I was having a conversation with friends the other day about Christmas movies. Afterward, I remembered one that hadn’t come up Read more about Beavers and Space—Sam Wilson[…]
Restoration Through Ecological Forestry—Jake Barker
As we examine the complex system of forests, management, and wood products in Wyoming, we are finding that the mosaic of forest type, ownership, and industry infrastructure drive past, current, and future forest restoration. Wyoming’s forests are scattered across the state in five main pockets. Northwestern Wyoming is home to the cultural and ecological behemoth Read more about Restoration Through Ecological Forestry—Jake Barker[…]
Utilizing Geospatial Analysis to Increase Water Availability in the American West—Rowan Sharkey
Being a research assistant with the Ucross High Plains Stewardship Initiative at YSE has afforded me a variety of opportunities to expand my knowledge in the field of mesic restoration in the western United States. Focusing on a region that is highly susceptible to drought events creates an interesting challenge when tracking water availability. The Read more about Utilizing Geospatial Analysis to Increase Water Availability in the American West—Rowan Sharkey[…]
A Systems Thinking Approach to Wood Processing and Forest Health in Wyoming
Julia Chen and Jake Barker are collaborating with The Nature Conservancy-Wyoming to investigate strategies to improve forest health and resilience through targeted forest restoration in Wyoming. At present, the pace and scale of forest restoration in Wyoming is constrained by several factors, including high costs and limited wood-processing infrastructure. The team will apply a system Read more about A Systems Thinking Approach to Wood Processing and Forest Health in Wyoming[…]
See research article from former Research Assistant, Shannon Bell
Check out Shannon’s published article here, which draws on the research she did with Ucross.
Stepping Out of the Steppe—Rachel Renne
As temperatures climbed this summer, so did the elevations of the plots that I visited. My gradual ascent was an attempt to capture the plant community of each site at a time when I would be able to detect and identify most of the plant species. Higher elevations mean lower temperatures, and while many grasses Read more about Stepping Out of the Steppe—Rachel Renne[…]
See Field Highlights from Students
Hear from some of our 2022 Western Resource Fellows about what they are doing!
Improving Model Outputs and Recommendations Through Field Work—Rob Anderson
As I write this, while sitting in my 82-degree New Haven apartment, I cannot help but feel some nostalgia for the two summers I have now spent in Pinedale, WY doing research for my Master’s degree. I have spent the vast majority of my life in New England. Prior to the past two field seasons, Read more about Improving Model Outputs and Recommendations Through Field Work—Rob Anderson[…]
Why study outdoor recreation in the American West?—Mara MacDonell
Industry, based on landscape, has been foundational to the American West’s cultural and ideological underpinnings since the beginning of colonization. While natural resource extraction industries (mining, logging, ranching, agriculture) spurred westward expansion and continues to be a significant industry in the West, a new industry is of increasing importance, outdoor recreation. Both the extraction and Read more about Why study outdoor recreation in the American West?—Mara MacDonell[…]