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natural and cultural resources planning

blogs

Our staff share their thoughts on a variety of topics related to our work.

Richard Quin is intrigued by natural history, documentation technology and special landscapes.  In Random

Notes from the Field, he reports on natural observations, special places he’s discovered, or new tools Pawpaw

is using in its work.

From having never camped to becoming an outdoor skills trainer for Girls Scouts, Sherry Beard turned her love of nature and travel into a career as a professional tourist. You can share her adventures and her thoughts on getting outside through her blog, The Accidental Outdoorswoman.
SCENICPHOTOGRAPHY

blog

Here you’ll find insights from the staff about some of our projects, technology we use, and some of the more interesting places we’ve been fortunate enough to encounter in our work. 

Wednesday 2 February

In 2014 and 2015, our team spent months in Minnesota inventorying resources along the Great River Road National Scenic Byway that parallels the Mississippi River from its source to the Iowa border. Our field team inventoried over 700 parks, historic sites, water access points, natural areas and more on a GIS-based system, while our associate Carley Lester compiled a sign inventory and assessment on hundreds of directional and wayfinding signs along the route. Our project partners at Kimley- Horn & Associates have entered our data into a GIS mapping application and it is available online. You can click on any feature to bring up the field notes. We love projects like these and are already looking forward to the next.  Try it at the link below. If you click on one of the map icons in the actual viewer, you’ll get a pop-up table listing more than forty fields including location, resource type, administrating authority, contact information, accessibility information, a text description and a detailed statement of significance.  Each entry features a georectified high-resolution digital photograph as well.  We’re very excited about this GIS-based technology and look forward to using it on future projects.

Thursday 17 December

It seems the hot buzzword of the year in natural resource interpretation is phenology.  In at least half a dozen parks or natural areas we visited this year in the United States and Canada, some naturalist or publication was referencing phenology.  Not to be confused with phrenology (a spurious nineteenth century pseudoscience that maintained one could read human character based on measurements of the skull), phenology is the study of how biology is affected by seasonal events.  Many events in the annual order of animal and plant lifeforms occur seasonally.  For instance, if you’ve watched migrant waterfowl heading north in the early spring or watched a leaf fall in autumn, you’ve made phenological observations.  For millennia, naturalists and scientists have observed such phenomena, including the emergence of insects, the flowering of plants and the hibernation of animals.  Today, scientists, educators and volunteers are making systematic observations and sharing their findings to help us better understand the timing and relationship of natural events to weather and climate. Want to help play a part?  Partner with the National Phenology Network’s national online program, Nature’s Notebook, available through the link below.

Sunday 25 June

While visiting a number of the Canadian national parks this summer, we were struck by a novel way in which Parks Canada is encouraging visitation to the parks by families unfamiliar with camping or who don’t own the needed gear.  In a number of the parks, they have provided attractive tent platforms called oTENTiks or in the prairie parks, camping tipis.   Each is fitted with beds, tables and chairs, a cookstove, outdoor chairs and a picnic table.  All a family has to bring is food, bedding and clothes. Parks Canada wardens told us the oTENTiks have been a great success, and will likely pay for their initial investment in a year or two.  They have attracted attention to the program by erecting example oTENTiks in the center of park communities like Banff and Wasagaming.  When families see them, they see how they can try a park camping experience at low cost and without having to invest in camping gear.  We loved the concept and will recommend something similar to some clients for future park or tourism projects. Read more about oTENTiks at the Parks Canada website.
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