USDA Forest Service

Pacific Northwest Research Station

Pacific Northwest Research Station
1220 SW 3rd Ave.
Portland, OR 97204

(503) 808-2100

US Forest Service
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Portland Urban Riparian Ecosystem Integrity

Portland Urban Riparian.In this project, Portland State University (PSU) economic recovery funding is being used to employ young people from underrepresented communities in a new urban research effort. The research, headed up by primary investigator Alan Yeakley, professor of environmental science and management at PSU, seeks to understand the response of riparian habitats to urbanization in three cities in the greater Portland, Oregon metro area. Yeakley and his students and field crew are establishing permanent plots where they are collecting data on vegetation, soil, and habitat quality for species such as salamanders along urban streams. The research will provide information to planners and policy makers on the impacts of development on a range of environmental variables.

“The field crew students will come away with a variety of experiences, from study design to site selection,” said Yeakley. “They will work closely with the two graduate students and by the end of the project they will be proficient in the sampling techniques that are needed for this kind of scientific study.” In addition to gaining valuable career skills, they can take pride that their work will contribute valuable baseline information about the health of these urban natural resources.

Over 80 students applied for the project’s field crew positions in summer 2010. Six students (ranging from high-school to college graduate level) were recruited and spent the summer in intensive training. They helped develop and became proficient in sampling protocols, and began both an herbarium plant collection and a photo collection of the plants and salamanders that will be documented in the project. They also produced a comprehensive field sampling guide that will be used during the 2011 field season. “I credit my love of the outdoors to my dad,” said Jose, one of the students. “And I have been really interested in thinking about how there might be different ways of managing land.”

One of the additional goals of this project is reaching out to minority youth like Jose and exposing them to jobs in science-related fields, where they are currently underrepresented. PSU is an ideal partner in this regard, as it has the highest minority composition of any higher learning institution in Oregon.

“We have been hoping to create a project like this for some time,” explained Jamie Barbour, PNW Research Station's project lead. “PSU is the largest university in Oregon, and the Portland laboratory of the PNW Research Station is one of the largest research labs in the Forest Service; and this project gives us a great chance to explore ways that we can collaborate.”

US Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Research Station
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