Unique Fellowship Opportunities available in National Wildlife Refuges

Logo banner for the Public Lands Transportation Fellows Program managed by WTI

Do you know a graduate student or young professional who is looking for a unique opportunity to gain experience in resources management, public lands visitation, and transportation planning?

The Public Lands Transportation Fellows program is now accepting applications for its 2019 class. Fellows work with staff at a unit or region/field office to develop or implement a transportation project that will preserve valuable resources and enhance the visitor experience. For the upcoming year, the two Fellows will be stationed at Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Potomac River National Wildlife Refuge Complex in Woodbridge, Virginia.

The Fellows position spans from July 8, 2019 to June 5, 2020. Compensation includes $33,000 for 10 months, benefits, relocation expenses, housing (differs for each position), and potential for Federal Non-Competitive Eligibility Status.

Please note that job offers will be made contingent on funding appropriations and applicant qualifications. Applicants to the Fellows program must be U.S. citizens, nationals, or lawful permanent resident aliens of the U.S.; be 30 years of age or under by the start date; and have at least a Bachelor’s degree; however, the preference is for recent or soon-to-be Master’s degree graduates.

This year’s application window is shorter than previous years’ and closes on Sunday, May 12th at 11:59 Pm Eastern. To find out more and to apply, visit: https://westerntransportationinstitute.org/professional-development/public-lands-transportation-fellows/transportation-fellows-application/

Please forward this to anyone who may be interested. If you have questions, please contact Jaime Sullivan at 774-571-3503 or jaime.sullivan2@montana.edu.

WTI has managed the Public Lands Transportation Fellows (PLTF) program since 2012.  It was modeled after the very successful Transportation Scholars program that served the National Park Service (NPS). To learn more about the program, previous scholars and their projects, visit the Public Lands Transportation Fellows webpage.

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Wolverine Research Showcased in Canadian Media

WTI Research Scientist, Tony Clevenger, presented his research on wolverines to the Bow Valley Naturalists in Alberta, Canada recently, resulting in a feature article in the Rocky Mountain Outlook“Wolverine populations at risk without connectivity” discusses his study that found that the numbers of wolverines in southwest Alberta and British Columbia are much lower than previously thought, and that busy highways are one of the major barriers to species connectivity. Tony has conducted several wolverine research projects in the Canadian Crown of the Continent (CCoC) region between Banff National Park and Glacier National Park at the US border, in collaboration with both public agencies and non-profit foundations.

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WTI Wildlife Crossings Projects featured in Smokies Life

Smokies Life, the magazine of the Great Smoky Mountains Association, has published a pictorial feature and in-depth article on wildlife collisions. “Right of Way: Roads Need Overhaul to Decrease Collisions” includes an interview with WTI Road Ecologist Marcel Huijser about his 20 years of research on the effectiveness of wildlife crossing structures.  The article also features a number of Marcel’s personal photos from the U.S. 93 wildlife crossings project in Montana.

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Aviation Journal Highlights Aviation Weather Portal project

The State Aviation Journal recently published a feature article on the benefits of an aviation weather and travel tool developed by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and WTI.  “Caltrans Continues to Emphasize Value of Aviation Weather and Travel Portal” describes the Aviation Weather Information (AWI) portal, which links dozens of commonly used (official) aviation weather websites into one location, providing easy access to key flight-related weather conditions (such as wind speed and visibility), pilot reports and airport data. The article mentions how the portal has been very useful to emergency services agencies in California during earthquake and mudslide events.  The tool grew out of a multi-phase research collaboration between Caltrans and WTI, dating back to 2007 and led by Principal Investigator, Doug Galarus.  More information about the project is available on the Caltrans AWI website or on WTI’s Integration of Aviation AWOS with RWIS project webpage.

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Transportation Voucher Program wins National Award

Image of the front cover of a report called Deep East Texas Council of Governments Transportation Voucher Program Final ReportThe Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) Transportation Voucher Program has been selected for a 2019 Excellence in Regional Transportation Award from the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO).  DETCOG and the Area Agency on Aging launched the pilot program in 2018 to provide monthly vouchers to seniors in five counties to pay for rides to medical appointments, shopping trips, and social events.

WTI, in partnership with the National Association of Development Organizations Research Foundation and the USDA, provided technical assistance to help create and launch the program.  The project was a team effort by Principal Investigator David Kack, who spearheaded the partnership with NADO; Project Manager Natalie Villwock-Witte, who worked closely with Laura Fay to develop the program framework, conducted outreach to potential program participants, and analyzed the use of the program; and Neil Hetherington, who created numerous original training and promotion materials. “It’s rewarding to develop an effective public transportation program for a rural area where there are so few travel options,” Natalie noted; “it’s even more gratifying when you find out that it’s making a real difference in the lives of residents who may use the program to go buy fresh, healthy food or to connect with friends and family.”

NADO is a Washington, DC-based association that promotes programs and policies to strengthen local governments, communities, and economies through regional cooperation, program delivery, and comprehensive strategies.  The Excellence in Regional Transportation Awards showcase organizations for noteworthy projects and practices in rural and small metropolitan transportation planning, program delivery, and special initiatives.  Winners will receive their awards at the 2019 National Regional Transportation Conference in June.

The DETCOG project page on the WTI website includes more information on the project and a link to the final report.

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Where in the World is WTI? Malaysia Hosts Road Ecology Workshop Co-sponsored by WTI

graphic of a hat and magnifying glass over an image of the globe with the text "where in the world is WTI?"WTI Road Ecologists Rob Ament and Tony Clevenger traveled to Kuala Lumper, Malaysia in April to present at the Road Ecology – Transportation Infrastructure and Wildlife Conservation Workshop.  Co-sponsored by WTI, Association of Consulting Engineers – Malaysia (ACEM), ERE Consulting, the Management and Ecology of Malaysian Elephants (MEME), and the Center for Large Landscape Conservation, the main goal of the workshop was to encourage discussions between wildlife practitioners and engineers that will lead to innovative solutions that enhance both transportation networks and wildlife conservation efforts. Rob and Tony spoke on effective wildlife mitigation measures in North America, such as wildlife crossings, and how they may be applicable to large species in Malaysia, which include both elephants and tigers.  One of the highlights of was a field trip to Royal Belum State Park, via houseboat!

Elephant crossing sign next to highway in MalaysiaThe workshop also provided an opportunity to hold the kick-off meeting for the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN’s) Asian Elephant Transport Working Group, under the auspices of its Connectivity Conservation Specialist Group. “It was our first face-to-face meeting and the 10 members put together a work plan for the next year,” said Rob, who serves on the working group.

 

Group photo of attendees at Road Ecology workshop in Malaysia

Boat with passengers travels through lake in Royal Belum State Park, Malaysia

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National Geographic Interviews WTI Road Ecologists for Feature Article

WTI’s decades of research on wildlife crossing structures received a very prestigious “shout out” last week – a feature article by National Geographic. “How wildlife bridges over highways make animals—and people—safer” describes how these structures have led to major reductions in the number of collisions between animals and vehicles, specifically mentioning the structures in Banff National Park, which WTI Road Ecologist Tony Clevenger has studied for more than 17 years.  The article also cites WTI’s key 2009 study that documented the specific costs of wildlife-vehicle collisions and the cost effectiveness of mitigation options, which was led by Marcel Huijser.  Both Tony and Road Ecology Program Manager Rob Ament were interviewed and quoted in the article.

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New Project: CHSC Explores Connection Between Impaired Driving and Traffic Safety Culture

Cannabis use by U.S. adults has increased by 50% over the last decade, and over the same period, cannabis use by drivers has increased by an estimated 8 -12%.  Cannabis impairs psychomotor functions that can impair driving ability, which in turn may increase crash risk.  As a result, drug-impaired driving is a growing traffic concern.  While traditional approaches have focused on enforcement and education, another approach is to build a positive traffic safety culture, which can be described as shared values and beliefs that influence safe driving decisions.

Through this project, the Center for Health and Safety Culture will conduct research to develop a better understanding of belief systems that predict intention to drive after using cannabis. The research will include surveys of cannabis users and non-cannabis users in the state of Washington.  The findings will guide the development of culture-based interventions and strategies to sustainably reduce impaired driving.

Project Title and Webpage: Traffic Safety Culture and Impaired Driving

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New Project: Phase 2 Planned for New WVC Data Collection System

Project logo with graphic image of deer leaping across highway and title Federal ROaDSThe National Park Service (NPS) and US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) have partnered with the Western Transportation Institute – Montana State University (WTI) to develop a federal lands wildlife-vehicle collision (WVC) data collection system. This system is being designed to efficiently and effectively collect information on large animal – vehicle crashes, to address motorist safety concerns on federal land management agency (FLMA) roads, as well as carcass data of medium- and smaller-sized fauna relevant to FLMAs’ conservation missions. This project offers user-friendly tools to collect and manage data key for analyses identifying specific areas where measures may be used to reduce WVCs on roads in National Parks and National Wildlife Refuges.

Phase 1 of the project entailed developing “ROaDS” (Roadkill Observation and Data System) as a mobile device application (an “app” for smart phones and tablets) for collecting WVC data in the field.  In this Phase 2 project, the research team will continue development of the application, by developing data standards and refining the data collection fields that will be incorporated into the next version of the app.  The final system will help agencies identify and monitor locations where wildlife vehicle collisions occur, and facilitate the planning and implementation of transportation, conservation, and safety efforts on federal lands.

Project Title and Webpage: Federal Lands Wildlife-Vehicle Collision Data Coordination Project Phase 2

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New Project: Safety Improvements for Low-Volume Roads in Montana

Highway agencies systemically screen the road network to identify those sites that are expected to yield the greatest safety benefits from an investment of available improvement funds.  Traditional methods for identifying candidate locations tend to focus on well-travelled roadways that experience higher crash frequencies, despite the fact that many low-volume roads may have high levels of risk due to their geometric and roadside features (e.g. curves, low visibility). Further, many of the crashes on remote local roads, particularly those with lower severities, may go unreported.

On behalf of the Montana Department of Transportation (MDT), WTI will develop a methodology for identifying and prioritizing hazardous locations on local roads at the network level that are deserving of safety improvement funds. Another objective is to engage Montana counties to work closely with MDT on the development of both the methodology and future safety improvement projects.  This project will provide MDT with guidance for its safety improvement programs, enhance its outreach efforts to local agencies, and support its Vision Zero safety initiatives.

Project Title and Webpage: Developing a Methodology for Implementing Safety Improvements on Low-Volume Roads in Montana

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