Internship Title: Mapping Utilization at Merced Vernal Pools and Grassland Reserve
Department: UC Center of Excellence on UAS Safety, UC Natural Reserve System (Merced Vernal Pools and Grassland Reserve)
Mentor Name: Brandon Stark and Joy Baccei
The Merced Vernal Pools and Grassland Reserve is a special part of UC Merced, and is a host to sensitive habitats, endangered species, and cattle. Conservation easements serve to protect these lands in perpetuity, but as more and more educators and researchers utilize the reserve, monitoring the impact of both grazing cattle and repeated human use has become increasingly important to ensure that the reserve is fulfilling its mission. In this project, the student will explore using a low-cost drone as a new tool for documenting human and grazing cattle impact, gaining hands on experience with environmental analysis software and drones, to help land managers improve management priorities.