Category Archives: News

Extra credit: Holy Boulders fundraiser movie or volunteering

My dear students: as always, volunteering at an event related to our coursework is always one way to notch some extra credit for the semester. The Illinois Climbers Association is holding a fundraiser screening of a pretty wild documentary on rock climbing at Yosemite National Park over the years. Friday Nov 4th Doors: 5pm Movie: 7pm $12, Guyon Auditorium, Morris Library on campus You'll be able to find a bunch of our class's themes from throughout the semester woven into the film.  Also, Saturday hosts extra-credit-eligible volunteer opportunities for supporting a climbing competition at Holy Boulders, if you prefer a more active kind of extra credit. --Dr. Park

Emerald Ash Borer workshops for Southern Illinois

Emerald Ash Borer Community Preparedness Workshops in Southern Illinois.

Recent discoveries of Emerald Ash Borer in Perry and Williamson counties underscore the need for communities to be proactive against Emerald Ash Borer (EAB). The University of Illinois Extension is offering the following programs for local officials, municipalities, park districts, arborists, and others impacted by the recent Emerald Ash Borer findings. The programs will be held at the following locations: Thursday, November 13 Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge Visitor’s Center 8588 Rte 148 Marion, IL 62959 From 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.Thursday, November 13 Perry County Government Building Conference Room 3764 State Rte 13/127 Pinckneyville, IL 62274 From: 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.Friday, November 14 Shawnee National Forest 50 Highway 145 South Harrisburg, IL 62946 From 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Workshop participants will learn about emerald ash borer, why it is a threat to our natural forests and urban trees, regulatory implications of the recent discoveries, and how to create a community action plan to manage ash trees on city-owned and private property. This workshop will discuss how to take inventory of all ash trees within a community in order to develop budget needs should large-scale ash tree removal become necessary. The program is FREE, but reservations are required by November 12. To register call University of Illinois Extension, Jackson county at: 618-687-1727 or register online at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/fjprw/  

Extra Credit Opportunity: Garden of the Gods trail cleanup is Saturday

FYI, a volunteer cleanup event at Garden of the Gods plus Leave No Trace educational activities this weekend. “Garden of the Gods trail cleanup is Saturday” August 21, 2014 Join SIU Carbondale’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center staff on Saturday, Aug. 23, at the Garden of the Gods Recreation Center for a trail cleanup day. Touch of Nature is partnering with “Leave No Trace for Outdoor Ethics” for the event, which teaches people how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly. A carpool will leave the Student Center parking lot at 7:30 a.m.; the cleanup is from 9 a.m. to noon. Those interested in participating will meet in the main observation area parking lot. An information booth will be available from 1 to 5 p.m., and the Subaru/Leave No Trace traveling trainers will hold a program from 6 to 7 p.m. Participants should dress comfortably, bring water and a picnic lunch. For more information, contact the Touch of Nature Environmental Center at 453-1121. (pasted from: http://news.siu.edu/2014/08/082114SIUToday-GardenoftheGods.html )

Also, additional information related to broader activities at Garden of the Gods this weekend: “Shawnee National Forest to Hold Leave No Trace Event”, see:

http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/shawnee/news-events/?cid=STELPRD3813667 Paul Restivo

Project Learning Tree (PLT) K-8 Educator Workshop – Saturday, February 21st, 2015

Hey all! Illinois was selected as a pilot state to test drive some new concepts in getting copies of Project Learning Tree, a national level environmental ed curriculum, into the hands of users. As facilitators, Linda Hauser and I will be leading two different workshops. One will focus on K-8 educators while the other will be geared towards early childhood. The date, time, location, etc. have been set for the K-8 workshop. More details can be found via the attached flyer. Please help us spread the word on this great event! We will have a full list of environmental ed workshops we will offer as part of our outreach series by mid-January 2015. For now, getting a jump start with this one to help spread the word. Thanks and let myself or Linda know if you have any questions! Amanda
Amanda G. Patrick Public Affairs Officer
Shawnee National Forest
p: 618-253-1031 f: 618-253-1060 apatrick
50 Highway 145 South Harrisburg, IL 62946 Stay Connected! www.fs.fed.us www.fs.fed.us/shawnee
Caring for the land and serving people.
This electronic message contains information generated by the USDA solely for the intended recipients. Any unauthorized interception of this message or the use or disclosure of the information it contains may violate the law and subject the violator to civil or criminal penalties. If you believe you have received this message in error, please notify the sender and delete the email immediately. EEAI_Shawnee NF PLT K-8 Ed Workshop - February 21, 2015.pdf

Outdoor Education Internship(s)

We run an outdoor education program called Nature’s Classroom during the fall and spring, and are currently looking for instructors. Our season runs from Sept. 24-Oct. 24, and could be a 1 month internship in Outdoor Education. Any information you could provide would be greatly appreciated. I look forward to your response, and hope that we might be able to help an SIU student gain some working knowledge of outdoor education. Sincerely, David Irick Ministry Intern DuBois Center 618.787.2202 program@DuBoisCenter.org twitterfacebook Nature's ClassroomInternship Details Internship Details

Open positions at The Field Museum – Spread the word!

​We have several open positions at The Field Museum that we're trying to fill soon. We have everything from temporary part-time, part-time, to full-time gigs. Please spread the word! All positions can be found at: http://fieldmuseum.org/about/employment. Mighty Acorns Partnership Coordinator/Urban Conservation Educator: supports and provides coordination and leadership for the Chicago Wilderness Mighty Acorns Partnership and will directly support The Field Museum’s Calumet Mighty Acorns program in the Calumet Region. This will be a full time position. Green Ambassadors Supervisor: will support the day-to-day implementation of the Green Ambassadors program in the spring, summer, and fall 2014. It is a part-time position. Program Coordinator, Millennium Reserve: will help shepherd to completion priority projects through the coordination and facilitation among the various Millennium Reserve partners. Thanks for spreading the word. Sincerely, Alison Paul __._,_.

National Wildflowers week at the Shawnee National Forest

Join with the Shawnee National Forest (NF) in celebrating the arrival of spring as Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack has proclaimed May 18th – 24th, 2014 as “National Wildflowers Week.”  Warmer weather has officially arrived to the region, and with it comes a multitude of native wildflowers around the Shawnee. For outdoor enthusiasts looking to connect with nature, the springtime setting provides not only a wonderful backdrop for doing so but also offers some exciting places to visit that are complimented by the beautiful colors that only spring can provide. Needing help deciding which locales to visit to see the beauty that springtime provides? If so, the U.S. Forest Service offers an online wildflower map with hundreds of locations on national forests for prime wildflower viewing, making it easier than ever to enjoy America’s great outdoors. The wildflower map includes wildflower viewing areas on National Forest System lands and can be referenced by specific states, individual national forests and geographic regions. Four of these areas are highlighted on the Shawnee NF. For many rural communities, the tourist revenue generated by thousands of wildflower festivals and events held each year helps support local economies. According to recent research, viewing and photographing wildflowers and trees is the fastest growing nature-based outdoor activity. If you are seeking advice on where to view wildflowers locally on the Shawnee, front desk personnel at one of our three offices, located in Harrisburg, Vienna and Jonesboro, can provide excellent hiking recommendations along with other helpful tips to aid you on your outing. A wildflower themed Connecting Families with the Forest display is also available at the Harrisburg office. All offices are open Monday through Friday; 8:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. CST. The map is part of the agency’s Celebrating Wildflowerswebsite which includes more than 10,000 plant images and information about the aesthetic, recreational, biological, medicinal, and economic values of native plants. Feature sections focus on the role of pollinators, overviews of flower types, and spotlights rare and interesting plant communities. An ethnobotany page also highlights how people of particular cultures and regions make use of indigenous plants. Educational activities for kids and resources for teachers are available too. Below are the wildflower areas located on the Shawnee National Forest that are identified on the newly released map: Bell Smith Springs Recreation Area Bell Smith Springs Recreation Area is a popular destination for wildflower enthusiasts, hikers and picnickers. There are a couple of interesting trails that traverse the area, allowing visitors to experience a wide variety of natural communities and marvelous geological settings, such as sandstone cliffs, a sandstone canyon, a natural bridge and a gentle stream flowing across a sandstone escarpment. Natural communities include sandstone glades, sandstone cliffs, sandstone boulders, xeric, dry, dry-mesic and mesic upland forests. LaRue-Pine Hills   LaRue Pine Hills’ unique characteristics dictate and support a rich biodiversity. It covers about 4.5 square miles (3,547 acres) and contains 14 natural communities including forests, swamps, ponds, wetlands, hill prairie, limestone barrens and striking geologic features. LaRue Pine Hills supports nearly 1,200 species of vascular plants and as such is one of the country’s most diverse areas.   Pounds Hollow Ecological Area   Pounds Hollow is a popular destination for wildflower enthusiasts, hikers, picnickers and folks who enjoy swimming and relaxing on a beach. There are two interesting trails that traverse the area, allowing visitors to experience a wide variety of natural communities and marvelous geological settings, such as sandstone glades and cliffs and a sandstone canyon with a gentle stream flowing through the canyon and into Pounds Hollow Lake.   Simpson Township Barrens   Simpson Township Barrens is a unique ecological area containing several native plant communities such as limestone barrens, seeps, dry and dry-mesic upland forest and an intermittent creek drainage. The topography of the area supports a rich diversity of plant life as well. The limestone barrens communities are characterized by very dry, calcium rich soils that support a flora more commonly encountered on the tall grass prairies found north of the Shawnee National Forest. Administered by the USDA Forest Service, the Shawnee National Forest is one of 155 national forests nationwide. As the only national forest in Illinois, the Shawnee offers numerous avenues for connecting with the natural world through its 280,000 acres of varied landscape. Whether your interests lie more in outdoor recreational activities, such as hiking or camping, or include learning about the unique natural and cultural heritage of southern Illinois, the fields, forests and streams of the Shawnee welcome you. To discover more about the Shawnee National Forest, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/shawnee and follow us on Twitter at:  http://twitter.com/shawneenf. The U.S. Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a mission of sustaining the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The Forest Service’s Eastern Region includes twenty states in the Midwest and East, stretching from Maine, to Maryland, to Missouri, to Minnesota. There are 17 national forests and one national tallgrass prairie in the Eastern Region. For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/R9. The U.S. Forest Service manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live. For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/.

Invasive Species Events at the Shawnee National Forest

Shawnee National Forest Announces Invasive Species Events in Support of Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month

HARRISBURG, Ill. (APRIL 21, 2014) – On Thursday, May 8th, 2014 at 6:00 p.m., the Shawnee National Forest will host an Invasive Species Presentation. The event will be held at the Crab Orchard Visitor Center located in Marion, Illinois. Matthew Lechner, Shawnee National Forest, and Karla Gage, River to River Cooperative Weed Management Coordinator with Crab Orchard Wildlife Management Area, will be the hosts for the presentation. On Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 at 3:30 p.m., the Shawnee National Forest will host an Invasive Species Workshop for Educators. The event will be held at Mississippi Bluffs Ranger District in Jonesboro, Illinois.  Karla Gage, River to River Cooperative Weed Management Coordinator, will be the host for the presentation. Both events are being held as part of Illinois Invasive Species Awareness Month. To learn more about ISAM, including additional events being held around the state, please visit http://www.invasive.org/illinois/ Administered by the USDA Forest Service, the Shawnee National Forest is one of 155 national forests nationwide. As the only national forest in Illinois, the Shawnee offers numerous avenues for connecting with the natural world through its 280,000 acres of varied landscape. Whether your interests lie more in outdoor recreational activities, such as hiking or camping, or include learning about the unique natural and cultural heritage of southern Illinois, the fields, forests and streams of the Shawnee welcome you. To discover more about the Shawnee National Forest, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/shawnee and follow us on Twitter at:  http://twitter.com/shawneenf. The U.S. Forest Service is an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a mission of sustaining the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The Forest Service’s Eastern Region includes twenty states in the Midwest and East, stretching from Maine, to Maryland, to Missouri, to Minnesota. There are 17 national forests and one national tallgrass prairie in the Eastern Region. For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/R9. The U.S. Forest Service manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live. For more information, visit www.fs.usda.gov/.

Chris Benda Leads Wildflower Walks Throughout Southern Illinois

In 2014, the Illinois DNR is sponsoring 10 wildflower walks led by naturalist/botanist Chris Benda. The hikes will be held at different state parks in southern Illinois and will feature basic wildflower and plant identification.  Invasive species and the threats they pose to natural areas will also be discussed. All the hikes will start at 10:00am and will be limited to the first 20 participants. Spots can be reserved by emailing Chris at botanizer@gmail.com or calling him at 217-417-4145.
The first session is this Sunday, April 13th, at 10:00am at Round Bluff Nature Preserve within Ferne Clyffe State Park in Goreville, IL.  Please see the attached flier.
--
Christopher David Benda, M.S.
Visiting Plant Ecologist - Illinois Natural History Survey
Instructor - Flora of Southern Illinois - Southern Illinois University
President - Illinois Native Plant Society, Southern Chapter
Carbondale, IL 62901
217-417-4145

Fish Tales on the Shawnee

Download Link: Fish_Tales_2014_Pounds_Hollow_Lake_Flyer

SHAWNEE NATIONAL FOREST PRESENTS:

FISH TALES An aquatic education adventure!

 

 2014 Program

Vision Statement – Fish Tales is a fishing program designed to involve children from underserved communities in an environmental education program that introduces environmentally healthy habits to last them a lifetime, while enjoying a fun summer experience. Come join us for a morning of aquatic education fun!  Learn how to bait your hook, cast, knot tie, fish and more.  Enjoy hands on, aquatic based activities too and come explore the great outdoors!

Saturday April 26, 2014 – Meet at Pounds Hollow Lake Time:  9:00 a.m. – Noon   Directions:  From Route 1, take Pounds Hollow Road 2 miles.  Take a right into Pounds Hollow Recreation area to the day use area. From Route 34, take Karbers Ridge 9 miles and turn left into Pounds Hollow Recreation area to the day use area.  
  • Sign-in at 9 am, introductions, safety information/facilities information, pole, bait demonstration, catch and release, casting, fishing, break, knot tying and fishing.  PLEASE NOTE:  All activities will be finished by noon.
 
  • Do not forget to wear a hat or cap, sunglasses and sunscreen for protection from the sun.  Also, please wear tennis shoes or good walking shoes – No sandals or flip flops.
 
  •  Fishing Poles and tackle will be provided.
  If you would like to preregister, please call Wendy Cowsert at (618) 253-7114, email to wcowsert@fs.fed.us  or fill out and submit this form by April 24th by mail or FAX to:   Wendy Cowsert                                                                      or FAX to (618) 253-1060 USDA Forest Service 50 Hwy 145 South Harrisburg, IL  62946  
  • Print Name__________________________________________Age:__________
 
  • Email____________________________________________________________
  USDA Forest Service is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Extra Credit Opportunity

Ag in the Classroom is looking for a few great aggie volunteers!
 
 
We are sponsoring an Earth Day celebration to the 2nd graders from Carruthers and Gen. John A. Logan Attendance Center at the GJAL Center in Murphysboro on Tuesday, April 22 from 9am -12:30pm. We will have 7 stations set up outside (weather permitting) with activities like making a recycle bracelet, making a vermicompost bin, etc. We are also hoping to have someone from the Fisheries Dept. to bring an Emriver demo unit. Please let me know if you would be able to assist us.
 
Additionally, we are doing a pizza presentation (they are lots of fun) for the 3rd graders at Thomas School her in C'dale onTuesday, April 29 and Wednesday, April 30 from 1:15pm-2:30pm. We need at least 3-4 volunteers per day.
 
I have Saluki Volunteer forms available for each event. Show your true Saluki Aggie spirit!! 
 
Thanks!
 
--
Mary M. Fischer
Jackson County Ag in the Classroom Coordinator
220 N 10th Street
Murphysboro, IL 62966
 
"Like" us on Facebook--Jackson County Ag in the Classroom

Invasive Weeds Presentation May 8th

INVASIVE SPECIES PRESENTATION

Hosted at the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge

May 8th, 2014- 6:00 p.m.

Presented by Karla Gage; River To River Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA) in cooperation with the Shawnee National Forest        www.rtrcwma.org                                                www.fs.usda.gov Download link: CWMA_NNIS May 8

Forest Rec Summer Camp Meeting 2: Tuesday April 15th 5-7pm OR 7-9pm

Bring everything you're intending to use on summer camp to our meeting in Ag 166.  Not done borrowing/renting/buying?  No problem, bring everything you do have. We will go over skills, equipment use, safety training, etc. As with the first meeting, this session is mandatory if you intend to go on summer camp. If you missed the first meeting, it is not good.  We must circle back and get you informed. Dr. Park

Sustainable Forest Management PSAs with Christina Hendricks

Taking a minute to share three short PSAs that we developed in support of the Montreal Process and Sustainable Forestry.  The PSAs, 14 months in the making, feature Emmy Nominated Actress Christina Hendricks, most famously known for her role in Mad Men, though she has appeared and will be appearing in a number of high profile feature files.  Christina is on the cover of time this week.
 
The 60, 30 & 10 second PSAs feature a crisp message about taking a personal role in sustaining the world’s forests.  I trust that you will find these clips to be effective.  We are now working on a rollout strategy to get these PSAs seen by as many people as we can.  It includes TV & web distribution. 
 
It is also important to highlight the high quality and professional work of the Creative Media & Broadcast Center, USDA Office of Communications.  They did an exceptional job of taking our initial idea and polishing it into our final product.
 
Please feel free to share them widely, including your staff areas.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Peter Gaulke
NEPA, Strategic Planning & Sustainability
USDA Forest Service, EMC
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC  20250-1104
Desk:  202-205-1521
FAX:  202-205-1012

Seminar I Just Gave: Rise of the Robots: Machine vision and your cellphone’s all-seeing sensors in forest recreation ecology

Long title, interesting talk.  This seminar was about the hard work we're doing to train cellphones to make detailed measurements for recreation ecology.  It is going very well. 🙂 Links to downloads below.  If you use the PDF version, I don't believe it will include the embedded videos... Logan Link to presentation powerpoint slide deck Link to PDF version  

Seminar I Just Gave: Rec Without Wrecking

Here's a link to the HTML version (Warning, it is HUGE). Link to original OSX Keynote version We're doing a lot of work in recreation ecology lately.  Very exciting stuff!  This talk was designed to spur some conversation among the audience regarding current topics and controversies in recreation ecology.  We also talked a lot about applying rec ecology principles on the Shawnee National Forest in our backyards.  The talk was sponsored by the Friends of the Shawnee National Forest.  If you like what you see, join up! Link to powerpoint version Logan

Heartland Region Student Symposium (Conference)

The Student Summit is a phenomenal opportunity for Students to attend there first conference, present for the first time, or network with their future colleagues.  The purpose of this email it two fold.
1.  It is my hope that you will spread the word and encourage your students to attend the summit. This model was designed to provide students an affordable opportunity to embrace the professional world of experiential education.  I have grown personally and professionally from this event and I have no doubt it will have a profound impact on your students.
2.  Convince you to come!  We like to embrace a concept called "campfire mentoring."  An opportunity to have a conversation with a professional around the fire is something special, and we would love for you to come be part of this event.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me via email.  I have attached additional event information as well as a video with first hand student accounts of their experiences at the student summit.
http://youtu.be/rUPkhkaK5y0 - Student Summit Video (Worth the Watch)
Thanks again,
Brian Croft
The Third Annual Heartland Region Student Summit is taking place at the Touch of Nature Environmental Center in Carbondale, IL in a little over two weeks!  Thanks to you, and the others who joined you around the fire at Camp Ondessonk in 2012, the momentum surrounding this event continues to build.  We are now reaching out for your help in spreading the word about this year's experience.
Even if you have already graduated, you are invited to attend and perhaps you know of some solid students still around in your program.  We have a couple spots left for workshop presentations and are looking for great ideas worth sharing with this year's attendees.
Some key things to know:
  • The Early Bird registration rate of $90.00 for the weekend has been extended until Monday, March 24th.  This fee covers the conference, lodging, meals and entertainment.
  • Check-in starts at 2:00pm Thursday, April 3rd.  Opening Circle starts at 4:30pm.
  • Highlights of the event include 50th anniversary of the 1964 Wilderness Act celebration; student-presented workshops; representatives from federal land management agencies and regional outdoor recreation and education programs; an awesome jazz and blues band playing live Friday night; and campfire mentoring.
  • Keynote Speaker: Karl Rohnke, one of the founding fathers of team building and the challenge course industry.
  • Closing circle takes place at 10:00am on Saturday.
  • Touch of Nature staff will be facilitating post-conference activities on Saturday, including high-ropes course programming, rock climbing, and paddling experiences.
Inline image 1
You can find out more about this year's Student Summit, our keynote speaker, submit a workshop proposal and register for the event by clicking here.
 
Please consider joining us again, and helping us to spread the word!
Best regards,
Brian Croft and the 2014 Convening Committee

Heartland Regional Student Symposium Is Coming Up!

The Third Annual Heartland Region Student Summit is taking place at the Touch of Nature Environmental Center in Carbondale, IL in a little over two weeks!  Thanks to you, and the others who joined you around the fire at Camp Ondessonk in 2012, the momentum surrounding this event continues to build.  We are now reaching out for your help in spreading the word about this year's experience. 
Even if you have already graduated, you are invited to attend and perhaps you know of some solid students still around in your program.  We have a couple spots left for workshop presentations and are looking for great ideas worth sharing with this year's attendees. 
Some key things to know:
  • The Early Bird registration rate of $90.00 for the weekend has been extended until Monday, March 24th.  This fee covers the conference, lodging, meals and entertainment.
  • Check-in starts at 2:00pm Thursday, April 3rd.  Opening Circle starts at 4:30pm.
  • Highlights of the event include 50th anniversary of the 1964 Wilderness Act celebration; student-presented workshops; representatives from federal land management agencies and regional outdoor recreation and education programs; an awesome jazz and blues band playing live Friday night; and campfire mentoring.
  • Keynote Speaker: Karl Rohnke, one of the founding fathers of team building and the challenge course industry.
  • Closing circle takes place at 10:00am on Saturday.
  • Touch of Nature staff will be facilitating post-conference activities on Saturday, including high-ropes course programming, rock climbing, and paddling experiences.
Inline image 1 
You can find out more about this year's Student Summit, our keynote speaker, submit a workshop proposal and register for the event by clicking here.
 
Please consider joining us again, and helping us to spread the word! 
Best regards,
Evan Coulson and the 2014 Student Summit Convening Committee
 
Evan Coulson
Instructor, Outdoor Recreation Leadership
Department of Health Education and Recreation
Southern Illinois University
475 Clocktower Drive
Pulliam 216F—Mail Code 4632
Carbondale, IL 62901
Phone (618) 759-1547
 
PhD Student, Recreation Ecology
Forest Recreation and Park Management
 

MaxBotics HRXL-MaxSonar-WR 7380 working code, mm-resolution ultrasonic ranging

My research group is pushing hard into custom digital sensing of trails and campsites. Below is a bit of code I developed to measure trail surfaces to millimeter-resolution, about 5 times per second. The sensor we chose, the MaxBotics HRXL-MaxSonar-WR 7380, automagically corrects for temperature influences.  We can compare this against the laser ranging happening simultaneously and select the most accurate reading for a given trail surface (puddle vs. soil vs. gravel vs. organic matter, etc.).
/*  
    HRXL MaxSonar WR TTY serial communication example sketch
    Ultrasonic rangefinding

    Original bits by Logan Park, Ph.D., in honor of his astonishingly beautiful wife.

    Pretty much everything else is...
    based on: http://www.maxbotix.com/documents/HRXL-MaxSonar-WR_Datasheet.pdf
    and on the Arduino Mega 2560 ADK: http://arduino.cc/en/Main/ArduinoBoardADK
    and on this handy ASCII chart: http://www.csgnetwork.com/asciiset.html
    and a bunch of posts on the Arduino forums.

    1. Connect pin 5 (tty/serial) of the ranging unit to pin 19 (Serial1 RX) on the Mega 2560. 
    2. Connect pin 6 of the ranging unit to any 5V supply on the Mega 2560.
    3. Connect pin 7 of the ranging unit to any GND on the Mega 2560.
 */

int current_range_reading = -99;

void setup() 
{
  Serial.begin(115200); // Set your computer's serial terminal baud rate to this.
  Serial1.begin(9600); // This is what the MaxBotics TTY sonar output needs.
}

void loop() 
{
  if (Serial1.available() > 5)  // Then at least one complete range, 6 characters long, is stored in the RX buffer.
  {
    int inByte = Serial1.read(); // Examine the first stored character and decide what to do.

    if( inByte == 82 ) // "R" character 
    {
      int thousands = (Serial1.read() - '0') * 1000; // Take and convert each range digit to human-readable integer format.
      int hundreds = (Serial1.read() - '0') * 100;
      int tens = (Serial1.read() - '0') * 10;
      int units = (Serial1.read() - '0') * 1;
      int cr = Serial1.read(); // Don't do anything with this, just clear it out of the buffer with the rest.

      // Assemble the digits into the range integer.
      current_range_reading = thousands + hundreds + tens + units;
      if(current_range_reading == 300) //This is the minimum reading for the HRXL MaxSonar WR 7380, not the actual distance
      {
        Serial.println("too close!");
      }
      else if(current_range_reading == 5000) //This is the max reading for the HRXL MaxSonar WR 7380, not the actual distance
      {
        Serial.println("too far!");
      }
      else
      {
        Serial.print("Range (mm): "); 
        Serial.println(String(current_range_reading));
      } 
    }
    else if( inByte == 13 ) // Carriage Return  character, oops! 
    {
      //Serial.println();
    }
    else if( inByte == -1 ) // Just in case!  This shouldn't happen if Serial1.available() returns true.
    {
      Serial.println("RX buffer empty, wth?");
      return;
    }
  }
  else
  {
    //Serial.print("RX buffer not ready");  // This is very spammy, uncomment at your own risk.
  }
}

Arduino Laser Rangefinding in Recreation Ecology: Lightware AL_01 Kit

AL_01 laser head assembly, rear view
AL_01 laser head assembly, rear view.  Note the Sparkfun visible laser mounted to the ranging head block for aiming.
My research group is furiously hammering away at some custom field instrumentation. I thought I'd put down a few thoughts on how it's going. Currently we're focused on a data-logging laser rangefinder instrument custom built around the Lightware Arduino kit, AL_01. We received two units freighted from South Africa a few weeks ago. Dr. Park's Enthusiasm Rating: 9.8/10 Unboxing the units revealed a laser emitter and sensor mounted into a solid block of milled aluminum(?). The construction seems solid--important because these aren't intended for laboratory use. Fieldwork is what recreation ecology is all about. The emitter and sensor are ribbon-cabled to a laser control shield sized for the Arduino Uno board. Right away we switched to an Arduino Mega board; the Uno's program memory space is quickly filled by the libraries you need to drive the laser and log its data. As it turns out, the AL_01 is a pretty capable "pro-sumer" laser rangefinder.  It occupies that space between the el-cheapo $20 parallax (the method, not the brand) rangefinder kits and the $1000+ pro grade gear that, frankly, are harder to wire up and get going.  The 40m advertised ranging worked fine in direct sun.  That was a real worry for us, since our fieldwork happens in all sorts of awful outdoor conditions.  It's the reason why we decided against hacking a Microsoft Kinect for its ranging + color imagery sensors. The AL_01 is difficult to aim by hand outdoors, so we stuck a Sparkfun red laser card on the rangefinder's head unit.  No more problems with that, although the red laser is a higher class laser (IIIA vs. the AL_01's IM), so we won't use that in field applications where bystanders could (somehow) possibly get injured. Since the unit is factory-calibrated, we had to set the EEPROM configuration by hand, just as described in the instructions.  On the UNO, this had us up and running with the laser rangefinder very quickly--with one gotcha.  In the EEPROM settings menu (transmit "e" over serial/teminal connection to open the config menu), the settings addresses are presented as two digits (e.g., "10") but are indexed as four digits long each. So, you have to type "0010" when you mean "10".  Similarly with the EEPROM values assigned to each setting, though in this case the values are 15 total digits.  So, you have to enter "000000000000130" if you intend to save "130" as the EEPROM value.  This caused some confusion, but once we figured it out, we were good to go. Dealing with Tracy Portman at Lightware via email has been wonderful.  The responses are fast, within 24 hours, and detailed without getting in too deep.  Initially when we placed the order, I had
The instructions issued with the AL_01 kit
reservations; they transact through Paypal and we got a friendly and polite note saying the order had been received, but that delivery would be delayed some time due to a strike among transit workers (used to ship packages).  My first thought was, 'ah, crud, I've been scammed.  I'll never see that thousand dollars again.'  (Paypal is notorious about tying up funds when in dispute.)  However, the units arrived soon enough in good order, carefully packed in bubble wrap, instructions included with a hand-noted calibration chart (nice!!).  No complaints at all. Anyway, we ran out of program space on the Uno (32K ain't what it used to be), so we switched it to the Mega board and... nothing.  Looks like we need to reconfigure the SPI settings for the laser controller and the SD card to play nicely with each other and with the Mega.  We'll keep you posted.  😉

Experiential Tree-Climbing Program developed by Beth Marcoot, one of my students, as a Master’s-level project

We're making this file available to you for the benefit of the public. Please feel free to contact Beth, Dr. Whitney Ward, or me with any questions you have about this program. It is going into implementation at Southern Illinois University's Touch of Nature campus, and we hope it will be a useful guideline in many other places. DEVELOPMENT OF A TREE CLIMBING PROGRAM Great work Beth!!

Dissertation Available: Three Useful Studies on Recreation Ecology and Visitor Use

Download it here: Logan Park's Doctoral Dissertation Abstract: The issues and concerns facing recreation managers, academicians, and other practitioners are now often complex and important enough that solving them requires more than the sum of parts from social and physical disciplines. To that end, this dissertation document identifies and addresses three research projects that in varying proportions draw from the social and ecological aspects of recreation management. The first of three articles in this dissertation examined approximation of cross sectional soil profiles on foot trails. Monitoring this ecological indicator with current field techniques can be expensive and time-consuming for managers. Therefore, this article described a modified procedure for assessing trail soil loss and discusses several potentially useful geometric curves for approximating the cross-section of a trail at a given sampling point and in aggregate across a trail network. Differences in profiles for each study area and implications for inventorying and monitoring were discussed. The second article examined integration of soundscape and hiker spatial modeling. GPS data were used to generate a spatial model of hiker travel, soundscape modeling software calibrated with field data was used to generate a spatial model of sound, and the models were integrated in a geographic information system to provide insights for baseline and an alternative management option scenario. The findings suggested that small changes in soundscape, based on altered management practices, can have large effects on visitors’ hiking experiences in terms of soundscape. The third article discussed an observational study examining several integrative and additive, information/education and site management approaches to preventing natural resource damage along backcountry trails. Video surveillance equipment unobtrusively captured hiker behaviors within the study area for each treatment. The findings suggested that direct, obtrusive measures (e.g., low symbolic rope fencing) in some cases can outperform multiple concurrent measures that are less direct and/or obtrusive. Implications on aesthetics, experiences, and management decision-making were discussed. Download it here: Logan Park's Doctoral Dissertation

Visual Impacts In Parks: Jet Contrails in Denali National Park

We can use simulated ranges of conditions to learn about visitor preferences.  Below, I show a series of images I developed to depict one potential aesthetic impact to wilderness recreation.  It is a nice, reliable, quantitative, repeatable technique for basing difficult and controversial management decisions on data.  Often used in people per viewscape/shed (PPV) and people at one time (PAOT) crowding measures. Not sure how it works for protecting your park, forest or refuge? Contact my research group. ZERO CONTRAILS VISIBLE   FEW CONTRAILS VISIBLE   SOME CONTRAILS VISIBLE   MORE CONTRAILS VISIBLE   MANY CONTRAILS VISIBLE   VERY MANY CONTRAILS VISIBLE   Pretty cool, huh?