2014 GSA Annual Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia (19–22 October 2014)

Paper No. 98-14
Presentation Time: 11:30 AM

BRIDGING THE GAP: SCIENCE COMMUNICATIONS WORK AT LAVA BEDS NATIONAL MONUMENT


PATEL, Sarina, Middlebury College, 2336 Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT 05753, spatel@middlebury.edu

Under the terms of the 1916 “Organic Act,” the mission of the National Park Service is twofold – to steward iconic and significant landscapes for the enjoyment of the people, and to preserve these landscapes such that they remain a pristine living museum for all future generations to enjoy. In the summer of 2014, Lava Beds National Monument hosted an internship designed to bridge these two pieces of the park service mission, which are often functionally separated between the Interpretive and Resource Management Divisions. Twelve weeks were spent working with the Physical Science division of Resource Management in two capacities: participating in on-going field projects and producing scientific guides, fact sheets, and other communication materials for recently completed projects.

The largest field project involved refining and implementing an inventory and monitoring (I&M) protocol for a sample set of thirty-one of the Monument’s 700+ lava tube caves. These caves represent a valuable and highly sensitive resource. They are home to fourteen species of bats as well as hosts to cool, moist microclimates which support vegetation, invertebrates, and other fauna otherwise incompatible with the desert highland climate of the California interior. The I&M program is designed to record the status of life in these caves for the next fifty years, in order to track the impacts of human usage and the effects of climate change on factors such as ice levels, humidity, and species present.

The goal of communication materials was to translate the technical and highly detailed data in the scientific literature into concise concepts accessible to staff and visitors who may or may not have significant scientific training. These materials were aimed at increasing knowledge of the active work (including the I&M protocol) being done to protect and preserve the natural and cultural resources of the Monument, ensuring the most up-to-date information is available and used by the park’s Interpretive staff, and bringing the landscape alive for all staff and visitors at the Monument. Improving communication between the Resource Management and other departments is integral to the realization of the Park Service mission in the most comprehensive and far-reaching way as possible.

Handouts
  • Patel_2014_ScienceCommunicationsMosaics.pptx (18.7 MB)