By
Mason Bull

Pocatello is a historic town in southeastern Idaho, affectionately called the “Gateway to the Northwest” and the “Smile Capital of the World.” It is nestled on the southern edge of the Snake River Plain in the Portneuf Valley.

“The majority of projects take place right in our backyard of Idaho or Utah, giving the Idaho team first-hand experience with the scope and importance of the research.”

This sagebrush steppe environment makes for some interesting weather and is an excellent candidate for DEVELOP projects. Many of the projects conducted at the Pocatello, Idaho location fall under the Ecological Forecasting, Water Resources, or Disasters application areas. The majority of projects take place right in our backyard of Idaho or Utah, giving the Idaho team first-hand experience with the scope and importance of the research.

The Idaho legacy of DEVELOP began in 2015 as a joint project with the USGS and Idaho State University (ISU) focusing on the Mountain West region. The node began with ISU’s GIS Training and Research Center (TReC) working alongside Goddard Space Flight Center, and then Idaho quickly began the steps to become a self-sustaining node. Keith Weber, the Idaho node’s lead Science Advisor, saw DEVELOP as a great way for different agencies to answer important management questions through fast-paced research.

A major focus of the ISU GIS TReC is researching sagebrush steppe landscapes in the Intermountain West by the use of geospatial technologies. This coincides with the goal of DEVELOP, and so the two were a natural fit. Since its establishment, the Idaho node has had many successful projects examining wildfires and their effects. The node’s proximity to the fire-prone deserts of Idaho provide a unique perspective and opportunity to study the world of wildfires, fuel sources, and the effects of fire on local ecosystems.

“While the participants at the Idaho node love the area, with its expansive recreational opportunities, they also love the projects and opportunity to take part in research that directly benefits the community.”

The DEVELOP Idaho node has also successfully looked at ecosystem tracking and plant succession in the summer 2018 Idaho Water Resources and spring 2019 Argentina Water Resources projects. Both of these projects are examples that give the Idaho node its unique insight into the world of fuel, fires, and human/nature interactions.

The Smile Capital moniker isn’t limited to the town of Pocatello. While the participants at the Idaho node love the area, with its expansive recreational opportunities, they also love the projects and opportunity to take part in research that directly benefits the community. Idaho is a state that is often overlooked, but with a thriving DEVELOP node it is stepping into the limelight, and the teams and research that come through the node are only making it better.

 

Mason is the Fellow at the Idaho DEVELOP location in Pocatello at Idaho State University. He has a BS in Geology with a minor of GIS. His interests are in all things Earth science.

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