Utah Public Radio Interview – Off-Trail Use

Last week, the first paper from my dissertation work was published in the Journal of Environmental Management. If you want some light reading, the paper is open access for the next month or so at this link.  

Utah Public Radio Science Intern, Andrew Durso, interviewed me about my research earlier this week and did a great job! If you would like to listen to/read about some of the key findings of my dissertation you can check out Andrew’s story here:



Guest Post at The Eco Tome Blog

I took a break from blogging this Fall while I have been working on another type of outdoor recreation/public lands outreach project with my knitting group. My next blog post will be about this project! I am so excited with how it has turned out.

But this week, I wrote a guest post over at The Eco Tome that is an introduction to recreation ecology and the types of basic questions that we ask in our field.

Go check it (and the other greats posts!) here: http://scifundchallenge.org/ecotome/2016/01/16/where-recreation-ecologists-spend-their-summer-vacation/

As a side note, this collaboration was inspired by a meeting Megan Litwhiler at ComSciCon  Applications for this year’s ComSciCon are being accepted until March 1st.

Finishing My Dissertation and Finding My Park

Friday I turned my dissertation into the library at Utah State. This means that I am officially “Dr. D’Antonio”. As far as I know, I am one of few members of my family to go to college, the first in my family to go to graduate school, and definitely the only one to get a Ph.D. – my parents are super proud. For me, I just feel relieved to have my defense over (I caught a cold and had some technical difficulties so that could have gone better) and my dissertation done. Otherwise I don’t think the whole idea of being “finished” has hit me.  Next week, I officially start a postdoc position at Utah State where my main responsibility will be teaching. I am really excited about this opportunity and it is also allowing my partner and me to delay the inevitable “two-body problem” by at least a year. Before the semester starts though, my first responsibility as a postdoc is a small research project in a place I love. And that is really what this post is about – finding my park.



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Happy 100th Anniversary Rocky Mountain National Park!

When people outside of my field find out that I do research in national parks, inevitably the question of “Do you have a favorite national park?” comes up.  I always have a really hard time choosing; each national park is unique and I honestly I like them all. But when pressed, I usually respond with “It’s a tie between Isle Royale National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.” I have already done a blog post about why I love Isle Royale National Park. Given that tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of the signing of the legislation that created Rocky Mountain National Park, I figured that I would celebrate it’s centennial by writing a post about why I love Rocky Mountain National Park.

My first visit to Rocky Mountain National Park during a research scoping visit. I am the one on the left looking around in wonder and awe (photo by Annie Weiler).

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Another Summer, Another Field Season

First new blog post in over a month!  My 6th round of grad school-related summer field work started on July 1st and I feel like June was sucked into some sort of field work preparation black hole.  For the last two weeks of June, I spent pretty much every waking minute preparing for one of the most involved projects that I have worked on thus far.  Usually the data collection needs on my projects require one or two protocols and a few weeks of work.  My latest project, however, requires 6 separate data collection techniques and since I will be leaving a (very capable) field crew up there for two months to take care of most of the data collection I had to be extremely organized this year.   But I will try to not complain about all the work too much – really I should feel privileged that I’ll get to travel to Grand Teton National Park every other week.

The Teton Range from Heron Lake (Coulter Bay area).

The Teton Range from Heron Lake (Coulter Bay area).

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Another year of field work completed

On Friday, after a 9 hr drive and a two hour stop in Fort Collins, I returned to Logan from my summer field work in Arapahoe-Roosevelt National Forest. The field work went amazingly well but it was hard being gone for three weeks when I have so much data analysis to do this summer.  Doing “real work” after a day of field work was difficult and usually I spent my evenings making raw/paleo dessert with my field tech, reading the ” A Song of Ice and Fire” series, or trying to work on the sweater that I am knitting myself.  As my first post back, here is a pictorial summary of how I spent the past three weeks. Enjoy!

View from the Mt. Bierstadt trail

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Making my data collection irrelevant

Since my last post I have been in Colorado conducting field research in Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest.  The Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest units are located in the Colorado frontrange about an hour and a half from Denver. I am here because this particular forest unit contains two 14’ers (14,000ft + peaks) that are very easy to summit. One, Mt. Evans, you can drive to by taking the highest paved road in the United States and then hike up a very short, practically paved path to the summit at 14,265 feet (4,348 m).  The other 14’er is Mt. Bierstadt, 14,065 ft (4,287 m) , which can be reached by driving Guanella Pass (a scenic byway) and hiking a 3 mile trail to the top.

Due to the popularity of these two destinations and the forest units’ proximity to a large population center, I am here mapping recreation resource impacts such as informal trails, visitor-created sites, and areas of multiple trailing. I have always realized that my research represents a “snapshot” in time – one wet week and new social trails can be created, a very minimal visitor-created site can regrow in a year if left alone. However, this week, as I finished up mapping at the Mt. Bierstadt trail, I realized just how quickly the data that I collect can be made irrelevant.

My field tech, Annie, and me on the summit of Mt. Bierstadt

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