Landscapes - People - Global change

Tag: What I’m doing (Page 1 of 14)

Social scientists at work

Samantha Howard, Brooke McWherter and I work through the early results of Samantha’s MES statistical results.

Term is well underway, now, with the third week of lectures done. Two great classes of students are spending 3 hours a week with me talking about Qualitative Data Analysis and the Socio-Political Dimensions of NRM (and one poor fellow is spending 6 hours as he is in both). In admidst there are the usual milestones being met. Proposal writing for some (Emily S and Paria), data generation for others (Brooke, Lara),  knee-deep data analysis for Sam (see above), writing thesis chapters/papers (Yan, Kate) and comprehensives (Keahna) including MES defense prep for Emily W, and papers finally coming out for some already completed (Mehrnoosh, stay tuned for upcoming posts). It will be a busy term but nice to look forward to a research-intensive sabbatical year starting July 1.

In addition, and the real reason for this post, there has been a lot of great news coming about my lab members recently. I learned that current MES Samantha Howard was named one of Starfish’s Top 25 under 25. I also heard that current IDPhD Kate Thompson has been hired as a 3-year limited term appointment in the School of Planning, starting this term. It’s reference-check season so I can see lots of progress among completed lab members, and it’s always exciting to watch them launch so smoothly.

Restore America’s Estuaries 2022 in New Orleans

A foggy day on Pass Manchac, on Sunday’s field trip. Some buildings have not been rebuilt after Hurricane Ida made a direct hit last year.

Boardwalk was destroyed at Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station during Hurricane Ida last year.

Our pontoon boat tour at Turtle Cove, returning down Pass Manchac toward three big bridges.

Yesterday was the first full day of the Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE) conference in New Orleans. This event is a first for me. It is practitioner-dominated, and very US-focused (they sure don’t mean North America by that title), and the focus is very much on the science. But there is an infectious enthusiasm here for all things estuary. I presented about the Nova Scotia coastal focus groups from Making Room for Movement, including a bit of the experimental paper and the new qualitative paper . The highlight of the sessions so far was one on social marketing: with work inside organizations (though small numbers of core comms/ed staff were clearly pulled many ways) and with a diverse and skilled set of contractors (notably, not generally academic partnerships) to achieve online ‘reach’. I have also really enjoyed talks about landscape change that included some social insights: Katherine Canfield on public perceptions of converting cranberry bogs to wetlands in Cape Cod; Melissa Paley on citizen mobilization for dam removal on the Oyster River in New Hampshire; Daniel Brinn on restoring water and habitat quality in Lake Mattamuskeet, North Carolina (which has a long history of human modification); Susan Adamowicz on the traces of salt marsh farming on coastal wetlands in Maine (and for providing some different vocabulary to that used in NS); and, Theresa Davenport on regulatory challenges to and opportunities for living shorelines in New England. Tomorrow is the last day of sessions and I’ve circled many more to attend. In general, I’d love to see more discussion of social monitoring of the kinds of actions being undertaken by this great group of wetland nerds, as well as ecological.

I’ve also enjoyed the more informal events around the conference. Our field trip to Turtle Cove Environmental Research Station (University of Southeast Louisiana) was fogged in, the result of unseasonably warm weather, but enjoyable. We saw swimming crab, a small alligator and a dangerous cottonmouth snake, and had great jambalaya courtesy of Reno’s. It was interesting but sad to see the impact of last year’s Hurricane Ida on the region and the Centre (see above). The trip to and fro I got to experience again the American penchant for constructing highways THROUGH water rather than going around. There is a 9 km bridge through the WIDEST part of Lake Pontchartrain, to the north of where I am now. Similarly, heading west through wetland toward Baton Rouge, you drive predominantly on raised highways through the marsh. In Canada we’d just be told: you have to go around. That doesn’t even seem to occur to Americans, bless them. At Pass Manchac there were 3 bridges next to one another (see above, in the view behind the pontoon boat), main highway, secondary highway, and rail.

Finally, the really informal stuff. It’s been nice to see the good people from CBWES and Clean Foundation all the way from Halifax (the only Canadians I’ve met so far). It was super to catch up with Brandon Champagne, ResNet MA student from SMU who is back in Louisiana working for the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. Because I worked at the UNO back in 2001-2, though, I also have earlier connections. It was great to see Denise Reed at the poster session, who was at the Coastal Research Lab (CRL) during my year there, and share stories of the singular Shea Penland. I have also gotten to tour the post-Katrina city and enjoy some great food with Mark Kulp, another colleague from CRL (now PIES): crab burger, frog legs (yup), shrimp and grits, and grilled oysters. Looking forward tomorrow to catch up with my office mate from CRL, Dinah Maygarden, who still runs wetland education programming for PIES at the new(ish) Coastal Education and Research Facility named for Shea. Still need to get myself some gumbo and a po’boy…

I’ve been enjoying the working Mississippi River view from my hotel room.

Not everybody has the cash or inclination to raise their homes after Katrina.

CBC Maritime Noon

Host Preston Mulligan in the CBC Halifax studio overlooking the Northwest Arm (and my house), Sept 7, 2022.

A quick note to say thanks to Preston Mulligan and producer Diane Paquette for having me into the studio today to talk about climate change and its impacts on Maritime landscapes on the Maritime Noon call-in. UPEI prof Adam Fenech was my co-guest for a fun conversation with local people.

 

Moncton treasures

Wetlands and a cloudy sky to show the Riverside trail at Moncton

Wetland meadows hide the river view on the riverside trail along the Petitcodiac at Dieppe, near Moncton, NB.

I had a forced stay in Moncton last week. I do hate to say it that way, but for some reason I’ve never spent any real time in Moncton despite growing up in NB, beyond volleyball tournaments back in high school. This time it was for the hospital, not for me but for a family member, for whom I was also isolating so avoiding indoor locations. I made two notable discoveries. First, the delightful extended trails along the Petitcodiac River. The tidal river that divides Moncton and Riverview winds amidst extensive wetlands that were covered with a tapestry of plants, and a riverside trail allows you to walk or bike quite far along it.

A section of the derelict rink lingering in backyards in Sunny Brae, NB

Second, and more surprising, was the derelict building I found. I’ve been to an engine roundhouse before, at Junee: it is basically a big circular building to store and switch out train engines. So when I peered between two residential buildings and saw a massive curved wall, roundhouse was the first thing I thought. But it seemed impossible that such a place would persist in suburban backyards. Google Maps confirmed the shape (see below): a perfect circle, with a few big doors, perhaps to allow the engines in and out. The final hint was the adjacent railway and CN Pensioner’s Center. Yet if you click on it in Google Maps, it is labelled as the “Sunny Brae Rink (temporarily closed)”, which is remarkably the case. As you can see to the right, the closure is anything but temporary, however. I am achingly jealous of the kids who get to grow up with this crumbling Coliseum in their backyards. I had to make do with playing in the foundations of old potato barns along the Mactaquac headpond when I was a kid, though this is likely the best way to visit the rink. Thanks to the burghers of Moncton for letting this fall apart in situ since its 1922-1928 period of activity.

A snapshot from Google Maps

The derelict roundhouse is clearly visible on Google Maps, adjacent the railway and the CN Pensioner’s Center.

 

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