AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

Site Designs & Habitat Mapping for Increased Organizational Capacity

by Daniella Barraza

Institution: University of Michigan
Department: Natural Resources and Environment
Degree: Master of Landscape ArchitectureMS
Year: 2015
Keywords: alaska; education; design; mapping
Record ID: 2057876
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/2027.42/110996


The Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies is a 501-c-3 nonprofit organization based in Homer, Alaska, with three educational facilities that encompass temperate coastal forest, marine coastal, and freshwater habitats. The Center aims to foster land stewardship, community, and scientific knowledge of marine ecosystems. Their programming is founded upon the provision of residential outdoor learning spaces, professional development opportunities, and teaching resources based on experiential-based education. They serve the local community as well as a large number of statewide visitors. Their main facility, the Peterson Bay Field Station, is the only residential outdoor education site in Alaska which services a diversity of visitors, from high school groups to families. The Center has a need for expanded educational spaces and resources to facilitate a burgeoning number of visitors, grown from 1,000 visitors at the start of the program up to 12,000 annually. In collaboration with a secondary client, Corvus Design, our team created site designs and habitat maps for the Center???s three properties: the Peterson Field Bay Station, the Wynn Nature Center (a 140-acre boreal forest wildlife preserve), and their offices within Homer. Our deliverables will help to guide the organization???s growth over the next 20 years, and serve as a fundraising tool for the improvement of their facilities. The main goals for our site designs were to create a unifying aesthetic that elucidates the values of the Center (especially as they relate to Alaskan marine culture), and to create designs that are practical and cognizant of the wide age ranges that employ these spaces. Our inspiration and information arose from exploring the properties, conducting informal interviews with the staff, volunteers, and users, and participating in the guided tours and lessons. We also collected vegetation data to identify the natural communities existing on the three properties. With this data we created habitat maps. Our methodology followed the protocols set by the U.S. National Vegetation Classification and by an Alaskan graduate student conducting similar activities at the Wynn Nature Center. The habitat map will be used as a resource for the organization???s curriculum as well as provide information for visitors.