University of Redlands Receives $75,000 Fish & Wildlife Grant

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Redlands Institute to create a spatial analysis system that maps the impacts of projects on wildlife.

We are pleased that the Redlands Institute has been able to leverage what it’s done in one region to benefit another, and we’re excited about our growing partnership with the Service.

The University of Redlands has received a $75,000 grant from the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to develop a Spatial Decision Support (SDS) system that calculates and maps the potential impacts of energy projects on wildlife.

Work began this month on a Wyoming Pilot Project of the USFWS Landscape Scale Energy Action Plan (LEAP), where the university briefed a team of expert modelers and scientists who will help to define vulnerability for an eight-state region bordered by Utah, Montana, North Dakota and Kansas.

Special attention will be given to the state of Wyoming, where the projected impacts of energy projects on wildlife in the region will be calculated and mapped through data input and Geographic Information Science and Technology. Results will be released in October.

“We are helping the FWS to build a system that will facilitate early conversation between energy proponents and the Service, to help reduce conflict and guide appropriate and sustainable energy development,” said Jordan Henk, director of the Redlands Institute, a research wing of the university that uses Geographic Information Science and Technology to explore complex environmental and social systems.

“This kind of collaborative research is ideal because it couples Redlands’ expertise in geospatial technology with the Service’s scientific expertise to develop something that should result in better decisions on the ground,” Henk added.

Tim Modde, project officer for the Fish and Wildlife Service says the project goes beyond simply mapping the overlap between an energy project and the wildlife that lives in the area. “We’re attempting to measure the risk,” he said, “to develop a modeling logic that provides estimates of vulnerability that can be used by environmentalists, scientists and others.”

SDS is a specialization of Geographic Information Science (GISc), in which the Redlands Institute applies structured decision processes, advanced computational modeling and GIS technology to support geodesign, planning and spatially complex decisions at multiple scales of analysis.

Modde said he hopes to see the project work used as a planning tool for future energy projects.

“We often don’t have the opportunity to look at energy from a landscape perspective,” he said. “This will let us see the risks and avoid them before they happen.”

David Fite, vice president for academic affairs for the University of Redlands, noted the Institute’s growing role working with federal agencies to develop GIS models for planning. Similar projects are underway by the Redlands Institute for the National Park Service on the island of Hawaii and for the USFWS Desert Tortoise Recovery Office in the Mojave Desert.

“We are pleased that the Redlands Institute has been able to leverage what it’s done in one region to benefit another, and we’re excited about our growing partnership with the Service,” Fite said.

About the University of Redlands:

The University of Redlands is an independent nonprofit liberal arts and sciences university consistently ranked among the best universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Since the university's founding in 1907, Redlands has emphasized academic rigor, personal development and interdisciplinary studies. An Education + culture of elevated learning provides students with a holistic education that results in a unique life transformation.

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Patty Zurita
University of Redlands
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