Patrick D. Lorch;; Rodd Kelsey, Blake Barbaree, Levi Souza, David Lumpkin, Scott Jennings

The number of Motus wildlife tracking stations in the west has grown from 6 in 2018 to over 100 in 2022. Very little guidance for how to test whether a station is detecting tags exists currently. I will go over the current suggestions and then present recent developments in standardizing testing protocols. I will present work by several co-authors on how we might use drones to test tag detection as well as statistical methods for presenting station detection effectiveness. I also present simple methods that can be accomplished by anyone installing a Motus station using a test tag on a PVC pipe and a GPS or smartphone. Finally I will give links to resources for tag and station testing.

Challenges and Opportunities II: Human Dimensions  InPerson Presentation



Carla L Angulo; University of San Francisco and WRA, Inc.;;

There have been almost 1,800 dams removed in the United States in the last 100 years. As of 2021, California has a total of 690 dams and has removed 137 dams. The process of removing a dam first undergoes a process called decommissioning. Decommissioning is an assessment of the functional use of the dam and, based on that, a decision on whether a dam will be retained, retrofitted, or removed. In this paper, dams in the US and Asia are reviewed to determine the prioritization of the factors to consider for dam decommissioning and how the cost-benefit analysis can incorporate marsh habitat restoration. The results identified from both sets are extrapolated to determine the feasibility of pairing marsh restoration with dam decommissioning projects by following a life cycle assessment plan. Upon preliminary analysis, sedimentation accumulation is the primary factor for dam decommissioning and removal. The sedimentation transport that occurs downstream of a dam after dam removals can benefit sediment accumulation in rivers deltas and build up marsh elevation. Pairing marsh habitat restoration with decommissioning reduces the cost of decommissioning projects and provides additional restoration benefits, which combined result in negative net cost (i.e., positive net benefits). Studying the effects of removals quantifies the benefits of a dam removal project and the efficiency of marsh restoration. However, further studies on sediment transport models of the selected dams would better quantify those benefits by improving our understanding of the sediment accretion rate in the marshes of the estuary.

Challenges and Opportunities II: Human Dimensions   Student Paper InPerson Presentation



Trinity N Smith; California Department of Conservation;;

A history of legacy mining in California has resulted in an estimated 200,000 hazardous abandoned mine openings. These mines, if left unremediated, can pose a hazard for humans and the environment. The California Department of Conservation – Abandoned Mine Lands Unit (AMLU), has an interest in protecting the public from physical hazards at abandoned mine sites, which often provide habitat for bats and other wildlife, especially Townsend’s big-eared bat (Corynorhinus townsendii) and California leaf-nosed bat (Macrotus californicus). AMLU houses an interdisciplinary team that possess a unique suite of training and experience to survey subterranean mine features for hazards and wildlife and provide technical expertise. Through partnerships with state and national land management agencies over 1,600 features have been remediated: 1,150 with bat compatible closures since 2000. During the planning phase, AMLU works closely with bat researchers to complete biological surveys and ensure that remediations balance habitat conservation and public safety. In 2020, AMLU started conducting bat surveys during the inventory phase to identify any previously unknown critical bat habitat. AMLU hopes to improve the integration of bat survey data with feature inventory to plan remediation strategies and identify future targets for White Nose Syndrome surveillance and population monitoring.

Challenges and Opportunities II: Human Dimensions  InPerson Presentation



Fraser Shilling; Road Ecology Center;; David Waetjen

Wildlife and traffic don’t mix well. Wildlife-vehicle conflict refers to the mortality, aversion, and fragmentation effects of traffic on wildlife (mammals, birds, herpetofauna). The adverse impact of traffic on California fauna has been at the center of recent legislation. The Road Ecology Center has collected >100,000 observations of wildlife-related crashes and roadkilled animals, using the California Roadkill Observation System (CROS, and the California Highway Incident Processing System (CHIPS). These observations come from hundreds of agency, academic, NGO, and individual scientists, and CHP officers and have species identity accuracy of 97%. Using these data, combined with wildlife values and crash coefficients, we identified 1,717 one-mile segments of state highway where fencing would cost less than the cost of WVC in those segments. We further identified >150 segments where fencing + under-crossings (10’ box culvert, 4-lane highway) would cost less than crashes in those segments. These results provide an immediate source of information for Caltrans and other state agencies to meet recent legislative requirements, such as AB 2344, and apply for federal funding under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. These data would also be useful for municipal and regional entities to use in local conservation planning.

Challenges and Opportunities II: Human Dimensions  InPerson Presentation



Autumn Iverson; Road Ecology Center;; David Waetjen, Fraser Shilling

Landscape linkages are hypothetical objects developed in geographic information systems (GIS) proposed to connect areas of habitat in fragmented landscapes. Assuming they are used by organisms in nature, linkages could be an important tool for biodiversity conservation. However, large-extent connectivity models (e.g., at the US state scale) are generally not based on evidence of wildlife occurrence and testing whether or not wild animals follow these artificial pathways created by conservation planners have given mixed results. Using >180,000 wildlife detections over 20 years, we evaluated potential utility of five California linkage models for common California mammal, reptile and amphibian species in two ways: 1) occupancy modeling and 2) roadkill detections as a proxy for wildlife movement. We found that linkage areas were not important predictors for the probability of landscape occupancy for most species. Linkage areas were also not consistent predictors of conflict on roads. These results show that hypothetical landscape linkages are not an all-purpose conservation strategy. Unless validated using data from wildlife occurrence, caution should be exercised when using linkages in land and transportation-based conservation planning. Connectivity as a gradient across the landscape should be the target of conservation, including in land-use and transportation planning.

Challenges and Opportunities II: Human Dimensions  InPerson Presentation



Rachel A Smith; Natural Resources Conservation Service;; Jonathan Snapp-Cook, Teri Biancardi, Shea O’Keefe

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) Partners for Fish and Wildlife are agencies which work with private landowners to address resource concerns by assisting with technical and financial assistance. Private lands have historically been overlooked for their potential contribution to landscape level conservation. In Temecula, California, these two agencies worked with a private homeowners association (HOA) with two ephemeral streams running through 400 acres of open space. One stream had dangerous 10-to-12-foot banks next to a trail and was incised into the floodplain. Both agencies provided technical and financial assistance to design and implement a restoration project on 1200 linear feet of stream that met the landowner’s goals. The NRCS guided the HOA using their 9-step conservation planning process allowing them to accomplish safe recreational access, riparian habitat restoration, and decreased erosion. At project implementation, the HOA had community backing, 14 federal, state, and local partners, and 5 required permits. This collaboration between public agencies and the private landowner addressed the HOA’s concerns and goals and shows that voluntary conservation on private lands is a viable approach to the conservation of natural resources.

Challenges and Opportunities II: Human Dimensions  InPerson Presentation



William J Ripple; Oregon State University;; Christopher Wolf, Michael K Phillips, Robert L Beschta, John A Vucetich, J Boone Kauffman, Beverly E Law, Aaron J Wirsing, Joanna E Lambert, Elaine Leslie, Carly Vynne, Eric Dinerstein George Wuerthner

From the beginning of the article published by BioScience: After taking office, President Biden signed an executive order announcing his America the Beautiful plan to conserve 30% of US land and water by 2030. He challenged Americans to collaboratively “conserve, connect, and restore the lands, waters, and wildlife upon which we all depend” at a national scale (US Departments 2021, p. 9). Here, we take a major step in advancing President Biden's plan by envisioning a bold and science-based rewilding of publicly owned federal lands (hereafter, federal lands) in the American West. Beyond concerns for human survival and flourishing, a principled commitment to the natural world and a sense of moral urgency underpins the motivation for our proposal. In general, rewilding aims to reestablish vital ecological processes that can involve removing troublesome nonnative species and restoring key native species. Our rewilding call is grounded in ecological science and is necessary regardless of changing political winds. Our objective is to follow up on President Biden's vision to conserve, connect, and restore by identifying a large reserve network in the American West suitable for rewilding two keystone species, the gray wolf (Canis lupus) and the North American beaver (Castor canadensis).

Challenges and Opportunities II: Human Dimensions  Zoom Presentation