Winter Field Studies
Environmental Studies 395 - 3 credits, $750 (includes meals & lodging)
January 11 - 20
Winter Field Studies Photo Gallery
Registration and Financial Information
Winter Field Studies is taught entirely in the Swan Valley, which is approximately 80 miles NE of Missoula, Montana nestled between the Mission Mountain and Bob Marshall Wilderness Areas. Rustic lodging in a bunkhouse on a private homestead will allow us to work in the field during the day, then study and meet with guest speakers at night.
Our field studies begin by focusing on the natural history of the area. Among other things, you’ll practice winter tree and shrub identification and learn how to snow track ungulates, small mammals, and large carnivores. We also explore environmental issues in the Swan Valley as they affect public land management agencies, corporations, and small private landowners. We’ll pay particular attention to the interface between state and national environmental policies and small rural communities such as those in the Seeley and Swan Valleys.
Northwest Connections (NwC) conducts a number of long-term ecological monitoring efforts in the Swan Valley and surrounding ecosystems. As a student in Winter Field Studies you will be assisting us with one such effort, which involves snow tracking rare forest carnivores. In order to accomplish one of NwC’s snow track surveys for lynx, fisher, wolverine and pine marten, we will spend three days and two nights snow camping in the Mission Mountains. This will provide a good opportunity to learn more about winter camping as well as wildlife ecology and conservation biology as they relate to these four species. Plan on learning in a small, dynamic group of motivated students while working with naturalists, agency biologists, and local guides.
Instructors Melanie Parker, Tom Parker, Steve Lamar
The Winter Field Studies reader includes segments of relevant Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife Service documents, articles in conservation biology, essays by early homesteaders and trappers, and natural history essays. Authors include Wallace Stegner, Bernd Heinrich, Mary Hartwick, Bud Moore, Reed Noss, Barry Lopez, Howard Quigley, Paul Paquet, and Mary Oliver.
Pre-Assignment -- Wildlife in Winter
Self-directed journal assignments: Natural history observations
Day 1 -- Orientation
4pm Arrive at Northwest Connections facility
5pm Introductions -- students/staff
6pm Group Dinner
7pm Discuss pre-assignment
Day 2 -- Swan Valley Biogeography
Interpretive snowshoe/hike up on Swan-Clearwater divide
Evening activity: Mapping watershed/topographic features of the Swan Valley
Reading: "The Rise and Fall of Natural History" by Robert Michael Pyle
Day 3 -- Forested Habitats
Lecture: W. Montana habitat types and land use patterns
Outdoor field session: Winter tree/shrub identification
Readings: Selections from A Field Guide to Wildlife Habitats by Janine Benyus
Selections from the Wildlife Landscape Assessment, Swan Valley. USDA Forest Service.
Day 4 -- Animal Tracks
Lecture: Animal tracking: gate patterns, prints, habitat selection
Outdoor field session: Track Identification
Speaker: Jay Kolbe, USFS wildlife biologist: "Forest Service lynx research"
Evening activity: "The Wild Bunch," a video on lynx, fisher, marten, wolverine
Readings: Selections from The Scientific Basis for Conserving Forest Carnivores, USDA Forest Service
Day 5 -- Animal Behavior
Reading: Selections from Of Wolves and Men by Barry Lopez
Outdoor field session: Interpreting carnivore behavior via snow tracking
Evening speakers: Joe Miller and Bud Moore, local trappers: "Trapper’s Perspectives on Carnivore Management"
Day 6 -- Winter Field Work
Conduct carnivore survey route up Jocko Ridge Trail near Lindbergh Lake
Track survey/ Documentation of carnivores
Establish winter camp on Jocko Ridge
Readings: Selections from Mountaineering Freedom of the Hills
Day 7 -- Winter Field Work/Winter Safety
Lecture: Avalanche safety
Practicum: Analyzing the snow pack
Continued carnivore track survey into the Mission Mountains Wilderness
Speaker: Scott Tomson, USFS wildlife biologist: "Current Issues in Forest Carnivore Management"
Day 8 -- Conservation Strategies
Reading: Draft Lynx Conservation Strategy, USDA Forest Service
Discussion: Current status of forest carnivores
Return trip from Mission Mountains
Day 9 -- Social Dimensions of Carnivore Conservation
Visit with early residents of Swan Valley about carnivore conservation
Readings: Selected articles from local authors, "Conservation Biology and Carnivore Conservation in the Rocky Mountains" by Reed Noss et al.
Day 10 -- Conclusion
Post Assignment -- Write a 5 -7 page paper referencing readers, speakers, field experiences, and at least 2 additional outside sources. This assignment is an opportunity for you to focus on and gain a greater depth in a specific aspect of ecology, management or policy that interested you during the course.
[Note: All activities subject to change due to weather and availability of speakers]
Registration and Financial Information
2007 Winter Field Studies Costs
Course cost includes the following:
- 3 University of Montana credits
- Northwest Connections' Tuition
- Meals (you provide your own lunches and trail snacks)
- Transportation during the course; you must provide transportation to and from the Northwest Connections facility in the Swan Valley.
All students must provide their own medical insurance while in residence at NwC.
|Deadlines for Fee Payment
|Due upon registration
|Balance of Tuition
|December 20th or by contacting our office to make other arrangements
If you would like to sign up for Winter Field Studies, please fill out the accompanying health form and registration form and send them to Northwest Connections with your $100 non-refundable deposit.
Fees are payable by personal check or money order to Northwest Connections. We do not accept credit cards at this time. NOTE: We accept Americorps education award vouchers. Please contact us if you would like to pay for Winter Field Studies with an Americorps voucher; we'll gladly guide you through this simple process.
No refunds can be made for cancellations unless another student from our waiting list can fill your space. If we can fill your space a refund will be made less the registration deposit.
Northwest Connections cannot make exceptions to this cancellation policy for any reason, including, but not limited to, illness, travel delays, personal or family situations, emergencies or weather. We urge you to investigate accident, baggage, and trip cancellation insurance with a travel agent. Travel insurance helps protect you against financial loss if you must cancel or interrupt a trip because of illness or injuries to yourself, a family member, or traveling companion.
NwC reserves the right to cancel the course due to insufficient enrollment. In the unlikely event of such a cancellation, NwC will notify students by December 20 and students shall be entitled to a full refund of all monies paid. NwC is not responsible for financial loss due to non-refundable airline tickets or other such expenses.