CSU Sweeps 2012 CESU National Awards for Natural Resource Stewardship Contributions

Colorado State University’s Public Lands History Center and Warner College of Natural Resources Associate Dean Peter Newman have been selected as winners of the Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit Network 2012 National Awards for their contributions to natural resource stewardship.

The organization, which includes more than 300 member organizations, gives only two national awards each year.

Newman, who has been part of the Warner College faculty since 2002, was honored for his work in the National Park Service Natural Sounds Program, which works to mitigate noise pollution in national parks.

The Public Lands History Center, which is part of Colorado State’s College of Liberal Arts, was cited for “exemplary and innovative participation in the CESU Network.”

“Colorado State University has been a stalwart partner for the Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Units Network,” said Thomas E. Fish, national coordinator of CESU. “CSU faculty and students have collaborated with federal field and program staff on more than 600 projects in parks and protected lands across the country, covering myriad topics ranging from climate modeling and adaptation planning to wildlife disease and invasive species restoration.”

As a faculty member of the Warner College’s Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, Newman began working with Karen Trevino, director of the National Park Service Natural Sounds Program and CESU award co-recipient, in 2005 at Muir Woods National Monument. He since has expanded his research to include Rocky Mountain National Park and numerous other national parks, including Yellowstone, Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Grand Canyon, Glacier and Denali.

Research at Muir Woods, outside of San Francisco, indicated the importance of “natural quiet” for visitors. As a result, Newman and his team used signage and other tools to reduce average noise levels by three decibels.

“You are 30 minutes outside a major city, and the Muir Woods provides peace and quiet for thousands of visitors,” Newman said. “Providing quiet places is essential for human and wildlife health.”

Newman emphasized that one of the most important benefits of the program is providing research opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students at CSU, who he says are the heart and soul of the program and can use their experience to earn jobs with the National Park Service and other federal agencies.

The Public Lands History Center, which opened at Colorado State in 2007, has worked with a number of agencies to ensure the preservation of public areas, including Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Zion National Park, Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument and Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic site.

Mark Fiege, who holds the William E. Morgan Chair in the College of Liberal Arts, is director of the history center, and numerous members of the history faculty are involved with the center, including professors Janet Ore and Ruth Alexander, who serve primary leadership roles. Projects are managed by research associate and program manager Maren Bzdek.

“The Public Lands History Center has, in a very short time, undertaken innovative projects combining environmental history and cultural resource planning, allowing the National Parks Service to better protect and manage its heritage resources throughout the West,” Fish said. “The efforts of these partners and programs are truly outstanding, and exemplary of the cooperative conservation potential afforded by the CESU Network.”

About the Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Units Network
The Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Units Network is a national consortium of federal agencies, tribes, academic institutions, state and local governments, nongovernmental conservation organizations and other partners working together to support informed public trust resource stewardship. The CESU Network includes more than 300 partners, including 13 federal agencies, in 17 CESUs representing biogeographic regions encompassing all 50 states and U.S. territories. The network is well positioned as a platform to support research, technical assistance, education and capacity building that is responsive to long-standing and contemporary science and resource management priorities.