KRS Faculty, Dr. Allie McCreary, leads grant project focused on understanding the environmental outcomes of Youth Conservation Corps on US public lands
- Friday, January 14th, 2022
Dr. Allie McCreary, Assistant Professor in the School of Kinesiology, Recreation & Sport, will work with North Carolina State University to evaluate the environmental outcomes of youth conservation corps programs managed by the Public Lands Service Coalition. Dr. McCreary is leading the national evaluation which will empirically assess the role conservation corps play in reducing invasive species and minimizing wildfire fuel loads on public lands such as state parks and national forests.
Invasive species reduce biological diversity and have negative impacts on human well-being. Wildfire fuels loads can pose risks to both human populations and wildlife. While invasive species and fuel reduction management techniques are beneficial, public land management agencies may lack the capacity to complete such work. Often, public land management personnel will collaborate with external entities to complete such tasks. Understanding how conservation corps partnerships specifically contribute to these objectives through collaborative management with state park, national forests, and other agency sponsors, will establish the role of corps partners in contributing to positive environmental outcomes on public lands.
This evaluation is being conducted with multiple conservation corps organizations from across the country and will leverage the use of a quasi-experimental design, including comparisons of habitat management projects before and after corps’ activities and by evaluating significant differences in environmental outcomes on both control plots and plots where corps perform work. The three-year project will evaluate near-term and long-term environmental outcomes.
The evaluation will be managed by Dr. Allie McCreary from Western Kentucky University, who has specific expertise in public land management agency partnerships, including co-developing the Public Land Partnership Model, and with survey design and implementation. Dr. Chelsey Walden-Schreiner, a research scholar in the Landscape Dynamics group at North Carolina State University, will be a consulting evaluator. Dr. Walden-Schreiner has a background in natural resource management, data science, and develops spatio-temporal models and decision analytics tools for understanding natural resource management interventions. The project will also support the participation of WKU undergraduate students in the research process by including students in tasks such as project management, data analysis, and the distribution of key findings.
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