Social Media and Catching National Park Vandals

This past year I have upped my social media presence and tried to become a bit more “social media savy”.  Besides making an effort to become more active on Twitter, I also created an Instagram account. Honestly, the inspiration for starting to use Instagram was that I feared my constant posting of cat photos on Facebook was going to cause me to lose some friends. But on Instagram, the more cat photos the better, right?

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) this post will not contain any cat photos, but it will contain links to Instagram photos of illegal activity occurring in national parks . On Friday night, while taking a break from work – because grad students trying to defend soon work on Friday nights – I noticed an interesting post on Twitter from Modern Hiker that linked to Instagram.


That image was found on the Instagram account of Andre Saravia (AKA Mr. Andre) a french graffiti artist and appeared to show a graffiti tag in a location that looks suspiciously like it was taken in Joshua Tree National Park. Mr. Andre stated that the photo was taken in a friends backyard (private property). However Modern Hiker, with the help of other social media users, did a great job “sleuthing” and found that the tagging indeed occured within the boundaries of Joshua Tree National Park.  Joshua Tree’s Chief Ranger received various calls about the graffiti and the park is beginning to investigate.

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September is National Wilderness Month

September 3rd, 2014 was the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964. In recognition of this anniversary, President Obama has declared September 2014 as “National Wilderness Month”. In the official Presidential Proclamation, President Obama “invite[s] all Americans to visit and enjoy our wilderness areas, to learn about their vast history, and to aid in the protection of our precious national treasures.”  As part of my personal celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the following post will be all about designated wilderness in the US.

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Social Media and Recreation Research Have you ever posted photos from a vacation to Flickr? Did you happen to geotag your photos? If so, then your vacation photos may have been part of a study that was recently published in Scientific Reports (an open access journal from the publishers of Nature). Recreation researchers have begun to explore the use of social media as a way to remotely gather information about recreation users.  Wood et al. data mined Flickr’s collection of geotagged photos to see if they could use social media resources to quantify use levels for nature-based tourism and recreation destinations across the world.


Where in the world is Ashley D’Antonio? (I don’t think I have ever geotagged a photo…)

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Research activities as a means of protection?

My research focuses on the ecological consequences of tourism and visitor use to parks and protected areas. The activities that I am interested in are all legal uses of parks and protected areas and the negative consequences of tourism that concern me are those that are the result of carelessness or ignorance.  However, the integrity of parks and protected areas – both in the United States  and abroad – are threatened by illegal actions as well. Poaching, logging, and illegal encroachment are of great concern for protected areas around the world.  While researching issues of national security on federal lands, I came across an interesting opinion piece published this year (online only at the time of writing this post) in Trends in Ecology and Evolution by  William Laurance; a professor out of Australia with a research focus on conservation biology. In the piece, Laurance speculates that the mere action of doing research in protected areas may have the added benefit of safeguarding the area.

Evidence of illegal logging activities in Mt. Cagua protected area

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Recreation Ecology Around the World: Part 1 – East Asia Yep, I have not posted in over a month. Whoops!  I feel like this is my busiest semester to date and what little free time I have has been devoted to trying to finish the A Song of Ice and Fire series or knitting.  Blogging has taken a back seat to research and other hobbies. However, recently a bunch of review papers have appeared in the literature summarizing the state of recreation ecology in various countries around the world (East Asia, Canada, Australia, and the United States).  As I work through reading these papers, I figured I could take write a series of blog posts that can serve as a tour of the world through the lens of a recreation ecologist (hopefully it will take less than 80 days…).

First stop – East Asia

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President Obama Does It Again: A New National Monument

On Friday, President Obama used the Antiquities Act to designate a new national monument; Chimney Rock National Monument. This is the third time that the Antiquities Act has been used by President Obama to preserve and protect public land.  Chimney Rock, located in southwestern Colorado, and has been listed as a National Historic Site since the 1970s. However, the designation as a National Monument will allow for greater protection of this area.  Chimney Rock is located within the San Juan National Forest and therefore will become the 7th National Monument to be managed by the USDA Forest Service instead of the National Park Service.

View of Chimney Rock, Colorado – now a National Monument

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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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