NAU fortifies research team for Colorado Plateau agencies


In his new role as part-time director of NAU’s Colorado Plateau Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit, David Ostergren will work to further strengthen research support for the Colorado Plateau’s natural, social and cultural resources.

“We are pleased to create a leadership position for the unit and to fill it with Dave’s considerable talents,” said Liz Grobsmith, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs.

Established in 1999, the Colorado Plateau Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit connects university researchers with the research needs of land management agencies, tribes, non-government organizations, educational facilities and museums.

“Through graduate student projects, adjunct faculty appointments and applied research, we are helping to train the future of natural resource management in the Southwest,” said Ostergren, who will continue as an associate professor in NAU’s School of Forestry and the Center for Environmental Sciences and Education. “The agencies need research on a variety of topics and our faculty and graduate students can provide those services.”

In 2004, NAU entered a memorandum of understanding with the National Park Service to host the network, which includes 13 non-federal partner organizations and universities, and five federal partner agencies, including the Bureau of Reclamation, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Forest Service.

“We receive many benefits from this partnership, including the opportunity to contribute to basic or theoretical research and to provide information to agencies that can assist them their decision making processes,” Ostergren said.

He said one example of how the Colorado Plateau Cooperative Ecosystems Studies Unit can work for NAU is that since 1999, the National Park Service has directed 231 projects and more than $7 million through NAU for research.

Projects in 2006 included burned area rehabilitation work in Zion National Park, a host of plant and animal monitoring projects in several parks, monitoring Mexican spotted owls in Mesa Verde and contributing to the Colorado River management plan in the Grand Canyon National Park.

Ostergren specializes in land management policy research issues in the United States and Russia as well as the Native American use of resources on federal lands.

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