An Adaptive Management Plan for the Restoration of an Outdoor Learning Center
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The process of restoring and reconstructing natural communities is complex and full of uncertainty for land managers. When the prospect of using the natural communities for education purposes is added to these challenges, a comprehensive and adaptive approach of land management is necessary. Adaptive management has proven to be a useful approach to dealing with uncertainty when managing natural resources, and has been chosen as the approach for managing the resources of an outdoor education facility in Raleigh, North Carolina. This master’s project is intended as a living document to guide the management of the natural resources at the Prairie Ridge Ecostation for Wildlife and Learning. Prairie Ridge is the educational field station of the North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences, located in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Ecostation hosts students of all backgrounds as they conduct educational field research. These activities can complicate the management and conservation of natural resources. This document is designed to provide a comprehensive plan for the restoration, reconstruction, and management of a variety of natural communities at Prairie Ridge, keeping in mind the need for educational and research use of these resources. These communities include a dry-mesic oak hickory forest, a piedmont bottomland forest, and a piedmont prairie reconstructed from an abandoned pasture. A framework was developed to guide the management of the diverse projects currently underway at Prairie Ridge. Each of these eleven projects is outlined with clear goals, strategies, and prescriptions for their management. Adaptive management is recommended for the majority of the projects for its ability to manage uncertainty and provide a scientific approach to management decisions. Evaluation methods were developed for each project to measure the effectiveness of the management prescriptions. The potentially conflicting uses of Prairie Ridge, including public visitation, field research, and preservation provide many opportunities for the use of decision analysis as an evaluation tool. Multi-attribute utility analysis is recommended for the evaluation of each management treatment. This plan will guide the management of Prairie Ridge’s natural resources and serve as a model for incorporating adaptive management techniques into other educational facilities.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
Raleigh, North Carolina
Prairie Ridge Ecostation for Wildlife and Learning
North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences
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