Tuesday, September 23, 2014

WyCEHG Call for Proposals supports integrative mountain hydrology research

Are you a UW scientist interested in mountain hydrology? Do you want to help further scientific understanding of mountain watersheds, snow hydrology, surface water and ground water interactions or weathering and critical zone processes?  WyCEHG (Wyoming Center for Environmental Hydrology and Geophysics) has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to UW faculty members for projects related to all of the above.

The proposals, which are due November 7, 2014, are funded  by Wyoming EPSCoR’s Track-1 grant. Approximately $2 million are available to individual faculty members or teams of faculty. Recipients of the funding will have access to WyCEHG’s study areas in Wyoming’s Laramie Range and Snowy Range.

“In announcing this RFP, we are hoping to attract new researchers into WyCEHG, while simultaneously focusing the funded activities on our key goals in mountain hydrology and environmental geophysics.  This represents a great opportunity for faculty, students, and postdocs to get involved in, and add value to, some exciting research topics in Wyoming," says WyCEHG co-director Steve Holbrook.

The most competitive proposals will address geological, ecological, hydrological, atmospheric, geochemical and geophysical processes that control water fluxes in mountain environments. And while the proposals should also fall into the following four scientific themes: 1) water balance in mountain watersheds, 2) snow hydrology, 3) surface water/groundwater interactions and 4) weathering and critical zone processes, integration among themes is highly encouraged.

By Manasseh Franklin

Friday, September 19, 2014

Symposium on the Wind River Indian Reservation brings people together

Gathered in the Wind River Hotel and Casino’s large entertainment room, legal practitioners and scholars, water managers, students and other interested parties convened for the Big Horn General Stream Adjudication Symposium—a landmark event in the world of western water law. The symposium, which took place September 10-12 with approximately 200 attendees, marked the conclusion of a 37-year adjudication process that determined water rights in the Wind-Big Horn River basin located in northwestern Wyoming and encompassing portions of Fremont, Hot Springs, Washakie, Big Horn, Park, Natrona, and Johnson Counties.

The adjudication—a legal proceeding in which a court determines the amount, priority and nature of water rights held by parties along a watercourse—began in 1977, and a final decree was entered in it on September 5th, 2014. The corresponding symposium was planned to bring involved parties together to reflect on the adjudication process and to look to the future.

“The essential goal was to organize an event that would educate attendees from diverse backgrounds about the Big Horn general stream adjudication, and to promote dialogue about the challenging issues posed by the adjudication as well as the future of water management in the basin now that the final decree has been entered,” said Professor Jason Robison of the College of Law at the University of Wyoming, and an organizer for the event.

This adjudication was particularly complex because of the enormous number of parties and legal claims involved. The final decree needed to consider Indian reserved rights, federal reserved rights and the individual water rights of hundreds of irrigators who depend on the stream system. The Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes, who reside on the Wind River Reservation adjacent to the headwaters of the basin, have their own tribal water code, which also came into play during the adjudication.

The symposium hosted a variety of speakers and panelists, including federal, state and tribal officials who participated in the adjudication over the last 37 years. During the two days of talks and presentations, panelists provided insight into the complexities of the proceeding, regional perspectives on other adjudications in the American West, and  thoughts on the future of water management in the basin after entry of the final decree.

“It is profound to have all these thinkers here... The common thread is water and its associated issues, including adjudication,” said Northern Arapaho Tribal Liaison, Gary Collins, about the Symposium.

On Thursday of the Symposium, Mr. Collins, along with Baptiste Weed and Jim Pogue of the Tribal Water Engineer’s Office, led a narrated field trip through the Ray Canal system. The system, which was put in place to irrigate 11,000 acres of tribal land, has been a source of debate between tribal members and federal agency officials. According to Collins, the system requires approximately $90 million of improvements.

Symposium participants brave snow and rain to tour the Ray Canal system.

Yet even with problems identified and expressed by concerned parties, many saw this event as a success and a necessary step forward to enhance dialogue.

“Some of the discussion today, if not most of it the last two days, should have occurred years ago,” said Collins. “This conference was very appropriate, very informative. It helped set some of the framework for the future.”

Robison agreed. “I am hopeful that the event set a precedent for future collaboration among the diverse stakeholders with interests in the basin's water resources.  I'm also hopeful that the event will lead to additional interdisciplinary collaboration at UW.”

To learn more about the Big Horn General Stream Adjudication, go to: http://bhrac.courts.state.wy.us/index.aspx

By Manasseh Franklin
Photo courtesy of Liz Nysson

Friday, September 12, 2014

Wyoming EPSCoR is Accepting Applications for Fall 2014 Undergraduate Research Fellowships!

Each semester, Wyoming EPSCoR supports and funds outstanding undergraduate students in Biological Sciences, Geosciences, Hydrology, Computational Sciences, Physical Sciences, Social Sciences, Engineering and Mathematics.

To collect his data, Jeff rigs up a microphone to catch the sounds
of the river.
"I take a stereo microphone and put it perpendicular to the stream," Jeff says.
"Then, I suspend it with a pulley system, so that I get the same section
of water each time."
Students who are awarded a Wyoming EPSCoR Undergraduate Research Fellowship are eligible to earn up to $750 for the fall semester to conduct research and gain valuable experience. The same amount is available for the spring semester, and students can earn up to $3500 in the summer, when students are not in classes and can devote their time exclusively to their research project.

In the past, students have studied various topics in many fields, and have gained valuable skills during their time as Undergraduate Research Fellows.

“Undergraduate Research Fellowships are a fantastic opportunity for undergraduate students to get hands-on research experience in a subject of their choosing,” says Sarah Konrad, Associate Director of Wyoming EPSCoR. “Such experience can be transformative, and numerous former recipients have caught the research bug, continuing on to graduate school in science.”

Wil Chapple traced water through the ecosystem in the Snowy Range during his time as a Fellow. “I’ve gotten a glimpse into what graduate school would be like,” says Wil. “I’ve also learned what it takes to do good science. I’ve learned a lot of patience.”

Andrea Alvarez
Callie Berman studied water. “I investigated water transport mechanisms in the Snowy Mountain Range outside of Laramie to not only understand how these dynamics work, but to also gain an insight into how this resource is managed on a local and state-wide scale.”
Andrea Alvarez studied water quality analysis on the Wind River Reservation. Jeff Santos worked to find a correlation between the sound of streams and the amount of water they carry.

“Science is so much bigger than what can be found in textbooks, and some students who are bored reading about science come to life when they actually get to do science,” says Sarah.

Applications for Fall 2014 are due September 19th at 5 p.m. For more information, please contact Lisa Abeyta. To apply for an Undergraduate Research Fellowship, click here.

By Robin Rasmussen
Photos courtesy of Jeff Santos and Andrea Alvarez

Friday, September 5, 2014

Wyoming EPSCoR Welcomes Newest Addition

Wyoming EPSCoR would like to welcome Manasseh Franklin, our new Communications Graduate Assistant!

After earning her Bachelor’s degree in Professional Writing and International Studies, Manasseh traveled and interned at various magazines, including Rock and Ice, Yoga International, and Afar magazines.

Manasseh visiting Mt. Everest
Manasseh is currently a graduate student in the Creative Writing Masters of Fine Arts (MFA) program at the University of Wyoming.

“I’m getting my MFA in Creative Nonfiction Writing and Environment and Natural Resources,” she says. “I’m focusing mostly on weaving science into narrative.”

Manasseh is excited to work with Wyoming EPSCoR, and is looking forward to learning more about how to integrate science and communication.

“One of my big focuses with writing my thesis is getting closer to solving the riddle of how to communicate science to people in a way that they can relate to it,” she says. “I think that I’ll be able to get a lot of insight from this position into getting closer to figuring out effective ways of communicating science.”

Along with writing, Manasseh also enjoys skiing, backpacking, running, biking and traveling.

Welcome to the team, Manasseh!

By Robin Rasmussen
Photo Courtesy of Manasseh Franklin