Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Advisor(s)

Deane Wang, Ph.D.

Lini Wollenberg, Ph.D.

Laura Webb, Ph.D.

Walter Poleman, Ph.D.

Abstract

In a remote corner of eastern California, natural hot springs deposit tawny ribbons of travertine limestone within a mosaic of sagebrush steppe, pinyon-juniper woodland, and alkali meadows. Known as Travertine Hot Springs Area of Critical Environmental Concern, these 160 acres host tens of thousands of visitors each year. Trampled vegetation, illegal campfire rings, and two and a half miles of meandering informal paths attest to the heavy use the area sustains. In partnership with the Bureau of Land Management and the Bridgeport Indian Colony, I designed a trail system, a blueprint for interpretive signage, and a suite of infrastructural enhancements to guide visitors more gently through this landscape.

Yet these management strategies are only the first step toward successful rehabilitation. Equally important is evaluating the effectiveness of the chosen approach. To that end, I developed a photo monitoring protocol that allows managers to assess erosion and vegetation recovery at key locations, and adapt their plans accordingly. By galvanizing citizen scientists and local stakeholders, this protocol will produce abundant monitoring data and may help to inspire a new ethic of stewardship at the site. While we cannot foresee all possible future recreation patterns and problems at Travertine Hot Springs, a robust photographic record will ensure that we are not blind to change.