PhD student Mark Douglas was selected this summer to serve as a Wilderness Fellow in Glacier National Park. Douglas spent the summer helping Glacier’s wilderness program develop measures of wilderness character in the park. The Wilderness Fellows program, an interagency effort of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Forest Service, and National Park Service, provides career experiences for graduate students or recent graduates in national parks or other federally protected areas. Fellows join a cohort of emerging professionals working to implement wilderness stewardship into the management of protected areas. Douglas notes that the experience gave him valuable firsthand insight into working in a federal agency and into the challenges of planning and managing for wilderness values.
Douglas is working at CFC with advisor Bill Borrie to study the symbolic dimensions of wilderness meanings. He is also working as a research assistant on a project to develop a wilderness travel simulation model for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness of Minnesota.
A structured framework governs the assessment of wilderness character and includes the attributes natural; solitude or primitive and unconfined type of recreation; undeveloped; untrammeled; and other features. Various indicators of each quality allow managers to assess and monitor wilderness character trends in federally protected areas. The framework that Douglas developed for Glacier will help the park gather data and monitor data to help make stewardship decisions.