Dan Shyrock

Dan Shryock
Steven R. Martin, Ph.D.
Graduation Year: 

Pack-stock impacts to wilderness meadows have received relatively little research attention. The few studies that have been conducted in high elevation wilderness environments have revealed that even moderate levels of grazing can result in substantial declines in meadow productivity. Despite this, active monitoring of Wilderness grazing areas has traditionally been given far less attention than monitoring of trails or campsites, and in many cases meadows are not monitored at all. As a result, wilderness managers must try to adaptively manage pack stock use with only limited qualitative, often anecdotal information of on-the-ground conditions. The Inyo National Forest has been involved in several lawsuits over the last seven years concerned with pack stock management in the John Muir and Ansel Adams Wilderness Areas. These lawsuits have led the Forest to reevaluate meadow conditions and monitoring needs. My research contributes to that effort by evaluating the ecological conditions of 14 wilderness meadows and examining the effectiveness of different types of resource standards and monitoring techniques. In particular, my research examines the effectiveness of frequency monitoring in rating meadow ecological conditions, the use and effectiveness of new types of standards, such as graminoid to forb ratios, and the effect of varying use levels on species composition and ground cover. Old monitoring plots were also re-measured in four meadows, allowing for an analysis of trends in species composition over the last 20 years.