Vita Wright - Science Application Specialist / Social Science Analyst


 


Note: Vita has stepped down as Leopold Institute's Research Application Program Leader in order to focus full-time on investigating and developing approaches to improve the effectiveness of science delivery and research application efforts. Working with the RMRS-Human Factors and Risk Management RD&A and the NPS-Fire Science and Ecology Program, she is currently investigating individual and organizational influences to the use of science for fire and fuels management in the USFS, NPS, and BLM. Vita is PI for the Northern Rockies Fire Science Network.

Vita Wright

Education:

  • Ph.D. Candidate, College of Forestry and Conservation, Society and Conservation Department - The University of Montana, Missoula. Degree expected Dec. 2011.
    Dissertation:  Personal and organizational influences to the application of scientific knowledge and tools by staff specialists and decision makers in the U.S.F.S., B.L.M., and N.P.S..
  • M.S., Organismal Biology and Ecology - The University of Montana, Missoula. 1996.
    Thesis:  Multi-scale analysis of Flammulated Owl habitat:  owl distribution, habitat management, and conservation.
  • B.S., Wildlife Biology - The University of Montana, Missoula. 1992.

Interests:

  • Improving the ability of public land managers to access and apply research
  • Communication, decision making, and organizational learning in public land management
  • Organizational effectiveness in wildland fire management
  • Role of wilderness in public land management
  • Recreation use management, visitor experiences, and public perceptions
  • Wildlife habitat modeling (assumptions, implications)
  • Cavity-nesting birds and snag dynamics



 


Research Application Goals:

  • Summarize, synthesize, and organize scientific knowledge and tools to increase access
  • Improve awareness and understanding of scientific information through proactive communication and distribution
  • Investigate and develop approaches to improve the effectiveness of science delivery and research application efforts

Current Projects:


Past Projects:


Background:

Since joining the Leopold Institute staff in January 1998, Vita has developed the Institute's Research Application Program, a program focused on the transfer of scientific information between researchers and managers. In addition to compiling and synthesizing scientific information on pressing wilderness issues, she's been investigating ways to minimize barriers to use of science by managers and to prioritize technology transfer methods. She's also worked to expand the Institute's understanding of invasive species research needs and of issues related to wildlife conservation in wilderness.

Before working for the Leopold Institute, Vita spent a year assisting with climate change research for the USGS-Biological Resources Division in Glacier National Park. To supplement her understanding of physical ecosystem processes, she collected and summarized snow, ice, and weather data for remote, relatively unimpacted ecosystems.

From 1994-1996, Vita conducted her graduate thesis research, a multi-scale analysis of Flammulated Owl habitat use in west-central Montana. The research was funded by the U.S. Forest Service Intermountain Research Station, Bitterroot Ecosystem Management and Research Project.

Vita has worked as a wildlife biologist for the U.S. Forest Service, on the Bitterroot and Umatilla National Forests. In these positions, she analyzed the extent wildlife habitat criteria were met for designated species, including the grizzly bear, gray wolf, lynx, fisher, elk, pine marten, and avian cavity-nesters. She developed and executed models in ARC/INFO to compare elk and pine marten habitat across landscapes, used these analyses to identify areas of concern for these species, and shared wildlife input with other members of management planning teams. During these positions, she studied the forest ecology of the Blue Mountain and Bitterroot Mountain ecosystems, focusing on the effects of past natural and human-induced disturbances.

In addition to her thesis research, Vita has worked as a Research Assistant on several projects focused on habitat use and conservation of old-growth dependent bird species. For the U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forestry Sciences Lab, she assisted on landscape-level Pileated Woodpecker habitat use and Spotted Owl juvenile dispersal studies. She also worked as a Biological Technician for the U.S. Forest Service, Shasta-Trinity National Forest during the summers of 1988-1990, on a regional study of spotted owl population dynamics and habitat use.

Vita began her career as a volunteer on a study of bald eagle autumn habitat use at Glacier National Park from 1986-1989.


Publications and Reports:

To access publications by Vita Wright, please click here.

Bahn, L.; Wright, V.; Montblanc, E.; Thode, A. Submitted. An Interdisciplinary Discussion about Fire / Fuels Science and Management. Proceedings of the 2011 George Wright Society Conference on parks, protected areas, and cultural sites. March 2011. New Orleans, LA.

Wright, V. 2010. Influences to the success of fire science delivery: Perspectives of potential fire /fuels science users. Final Report to the Joint Fire Science Program. Project #04-4-2-01.

Tempel, Douglas; Wright, Vita; Neilson, Janet; Mildenstein, Tammy. 2008. Linking wilderness research and management-volume 5. Understanding and managing backcountry recreation impacts on terrestrial wildlife: an annotated reading list. (Wright, Vita, series ed.) Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-79-Vol 5. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 70 p.

Larson, G.; Wright, V.; Spaulding, C.; Rossetto, K.; Rausch, G.; Richards, A.; Durnford, S. 2007. Using social science to understand and improve wildland fire organizations: an annotated reading list. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-201. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 82 p.

Wright, V. 2007. Communication barriers to applying federal research in support of land management in the United States. Pages 55-62 In: Miner, Cynthia; Jacobs, Ruth; Dykstra, Dennis; Bittner, Becky, eds. 2006. Proceedings: international conference on transfer of forest science knowledge and technology. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-726. Portland, OR: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station.

Wright, V. 2006. Overcoming Barriers to the Use of Science in National Parks (Session Summary). Pages 400-404 In: Harmon, David, ed. People, Places, and Parks: Proceedings of the 2005 George Wright Society Conference on Parks, Protected Areas, and Cultural Sites. Hancock, Mich.: The George Wright Society. April 2005. Philadelphia, PA.

Wright, V. 2004. How do land managers adopt scientific knowledge and technology? Contributions of the Diffusion of Innovations theory. In: Munro Neil, Dearden, Phil, Herman,Tom B., Beazley, Karen, Sorun Bondrup-Nielson, editors. Making Ecosystem-based management work. Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference on Science and Management of Protected Areas, Victoria, BC, 11-16 May 2003. Wolfville, Nova Scotia: Science and Management of Protected Areas Association.

Wright, V. 2004. Barriers to science-based management: What are they and what can we do about them? (Session summary). In: David Harmon, Bruce M. Kilgore, and Gay Vietzke, eds. Protecting Our Diverse Heritage: the role of parks, protected areas, and cultural sites. George Wright Society, Hancock, MI: 34-37.

Cole, David N.; Wright, Vita. 2004. Information about wilderness visitors and recreation impacts: is it adequate? International Journal of Wilderness 10(1): 27-31.

Tempel, D.J., A.B. Cilimburg, and V. Wright. 2004. The status and management of exotic and invasive species in national wildlife refuge wilderness areas. Natural Areas Journal 24(4): 300-306.

Wright, V. 2003. New tools to access wilderness research information. Park Science 22(1):7-8.

Cole, D.N.;Wright,V.2003.Wilderness visitors and recreation impacts:baseline data available for twentieth century conditions.Gen.Tech.Rep.RMRS-GTR-117.Ogden,UT:U.S. Department of Agriculture,Forest Service,Rocky Mountain Research Station.52 p.

Wright, V. 2003. Reducing barriers to science-based management. International Journal of Wilderness 9(1):19,12.

Wright, Vita, ed. 2001-2002. Linking wilderness research and management [series]. 1. Wilderness fire restoration and management: an annotated reading list. 2. Defining, managing, and monitoring visitor experiences: an annotated reading list. 3. Recreation fees in wilderness and other public lands: an annotated reading list. 4. Understanding and managing invasive plants in wilderness: an annotated reading list. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-79. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 4 vols.

Osborn, S.; Wright, V.; Walker, B.; Cilimburg, A.; Perkins, A. 2002. Linking wilderness research and management - volume 4. Understanding and managing invasive plants in wilderness: an annotated reading list. (Wright, Vita, series ed.) Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-79-Vol 4. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 65 p.

Wright, V. 2000. The Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute: A National Wilderness Research Program in Support of Wilderness Management. In: McCool, Stephen F.; Cole, David N.; Borrie, William T.; O'Loughlin, Jennifer, comps. Wilderness Science in a Time of Change Conference Vol 3: Wilderness as a place for scientific inquiry; 1999 May 23-27; Missoula, MT. Proc. RMRS-P-15-VOL-3. Ogden, UT: Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 260-268.

Wright, V. 1999. Non-native fish stocking in wilderness. International Journal of Wilderness 5(1):14.

Wright, V. 1998. What is LAC and when is it useful? International Journal of Wilderness 4(2):12.

Wright, V., S. J. Hejl, and R. L. Hutto. 1997. Conservation implications of a multi-scale study of Flammulated Owl habitat use in the northern Rocky Mountains, USA. In: Duncan, J., ed. Proceedings of the Second International Symposium on the Biology and Conservation of Owls of the Northern Hemisphere. 5-9 February 1997. Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. USDA Forest Service, Northeast Experiment Station.

Wright, V. 1996. Multi-scale analysis of Flammulated Owl habitat use: owl distribution, habitat management, and conservation. M.S. Thesis. University of Montana. Missoula, MT. 91 pp.

Wright, V., and B. Wales. 1993. Bibliography of selected literature regarding the management of cavity excavators in eastside habitats: Oregon and Washington. USDA Forest Service, PNW Region, Wildlife Habitat Relationships Program. Portland, OR.


Selected Presentations:

Influences to the Use of Fire / Fuels Research: Perspectives of Potential Users. June 2010. Joint Fire Science Program Regional Fire Science Delivery Consortia Kick-off Workshop. Stevenson, WA.

Improving the Effectiveness of Science Delivery: Contributions from the Social Sciences. April 2010. 2nd Human Dimensions of Wildland Fire Conference. San Antonio, TX.

Influences to the Use of Fire / Fuels Research: Understanding Potential Users. March 2010. National Center for Landscape Fire Analysis. Missoula, MT.

How Innovative is the Fire / Fuels Community? February 2010. National Park Service Brown Bag Seminar. National Interagency Fire Center. Boise, ID.

Influences to the Use of Fire / Fuels Research: Understanding Potential Users. January 2010. Fire Sciences Lab Seminar Series. Missoula, MT.

Influences to the Integration of Management and Science: Understanding Potential Science Users. December 2009. 4th International Fire Ecology & Management Congress. Savannah, GA.

To what extent does the federal wildland fire community function as a learning organization? April 2009. 10th Wildland Fire Safety Summit. Phoenix, AZ.

Drivers of fire - resource management conflict: insights from the social sciences. March 2009. George Wright Society Conference. Portland, OR.

Influences to science application by wildland fire managers. October 2008. Applying Conservation Science to Action. Annual Research Symposium of the Montana Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology. Missoula, MT.

Integrating research into fire and fuels management. Poster. September 2008. The '88 Fires: Yellowstone and Beyond. Jackson Hole, MT.

Influences to the use of fire and fuels research by federal agency managers. March 2008. Fire Sciences Lab Seminar Series. Missoula, MT.

Personal and organizational influences to the use of fire and fuels research by federal agency managers. October 2007. Human Dimensions of Wildland Fire Conference. Fort Collins, CO.

Integrating science into fire and fuels management. Poster. April 2007. George Wright Society Conference. St. Paul, MN.

Technical and social influences to the success of fire science delivery. Poster. September 2006. Joint Fire Science Program Board Meeting. Missoula, MT.

Barriers to effective science delivery and application. May 2005. Transfer of Forest Science & Technology Conference. Portland, OR.

Creating an innovative organization: Overcoming barriers to the use of science. Day-capper. April 2005. The George Wright Society Conference. Philadelphia, PA.

Social influences to the adoption of science. October 2004. Science & Technology Application Workshop. Athens, GA.

The Leopold Institute's Research Application Program. 2004. Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute Ten-Year Program Review (National; Interagency). Missoula, MT.

Developing and sharing scientific knowledge, approaches, and data with federal land managers. 2003. BLM Science Coordination Committee. Shepherdstown, WV.

Using social science theory to facilitate the adoption of new scientific approaches by natural and recreation resource managers. October 2003. Human Dimensions of Natural Resources in the Western U.S. Conference. Sun Valley, ID.

How do managers adopt scientific knowledge and technology? The diffusion of innovations theory. May 2003. Science and Management of Protected Areas Association Conference. Victoria, BC.

Research Application Program Update. April 2003. NPS National Wilderness Steering Committee. San Diego, CA.

Barriers to science-based management: what are they and what can we do about them? April 2003. The George Wright Society Biennial Conference. San Diego, CA.

Backcountry recreation impacts to wildlife: an application of The Wildlife Society's online bibliography. February 2003. The Wildlife Society, Montana Chapter meeting. Lewiston, MT. Co-presented with Douglas Tempel and Janet Doherty.

Wilderness fire reporting: why are we concerned and what can we do to facilitate it? January 2003. USFS Regional Wilderness Program Leaders. Santa Fe, NM.

Research Application Program Update. January 2003. USFS Regional Wilderness Program Leaders. Santa Fe, NM.

Measuring wilderness recreation use: counts and visit/visitor characteristics. April 2002. Managing Visitor Use in Wilderness Workshop. Portland, OR.

Incorporating potential vegetation types and historic fire regimes into wildlife habitat mapping. April 2002. The Wildlife Society, Northwest Section Meeting. Spokane, WA.

Leopold Institute Research Application Program Update. March 2002. USFS Regional Wilderness Program Leaders. Portland, OR.

Leopold Institute Research Application Program Update. January 2002. USFS Northern Region's Winter Wilderness Meeting. Missoula, MT.

Wilderness research and application. May 2001. National BLM Staff. Washington, DC.

Wilderness research and application. May 2001. National USFWS Staff. Washington, DC.

Wilderness research application. May 2001. USFS Regional Wilderness Program Leaders. Washington, DC.

Wilderness research application. April 2000. NPS National Wilderness Steering Committee. Missoula, MT.

Wilderness and wildlife conservation: are we assuming too much? June 2000. Society for Conservation Biology. Missoula, MT.

Comparison of Landsat TM imagery and aerial photography for conducting wildlife habitat analyses. October 1999. Predicting Species Occurrences: Issues of Scale and Accuracy. Snowbird, Utah.

Problems with protecting wildlife in wilderness: a gap between biologists and wilderness managers. May 1999. Wilderness Science in a Time of Change Conference. Missoula, Montana.

Why focus on wilderness? March 1999. Wildlife Society Meeting, Northwest Section. Bozeman, Montana.

Conservation implications of a multi-scale analysis of Flammulated Owl habitat use in the northern Rocky Mountains, USA. February 1997. Second International Symposium on the Biology and Conservation of the Northern Hemisphere, 5-9 February 1997, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Hierarchical analysis of Flammulated Owl habitat use in the Northern Rocky Mountains. April 1995. Cooper Ornithological Society - CIPA Mex Joint Meeting. La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Additional presentations include U.S. Forest Service trainings and workshops, the Montana Chapter of The Wildlife Society, the Bitterroot Audubon Society, and guest lectures for undergraduate courses at the University of Montana.

Honors/Awards:

  • Nominated by the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station for the National Technology Transfer Award. Nomination submitted May 2003.
  • USDA Forest Service Chief's Recognition of Outstanding Service, 2002
  • U.S. Forest Service Certificate of Appreciation, 2002
  • Cooper Ornithological Society Student Travel Award, 1995
  • U.S. Forest Service Certificate of Merit, 1993
  • University of Montana School of Forestry Outstanding Senior Award, 1992
  • U.S. Forest Service Certificate of Merit, 1990
  • Chagrin Valley Women's Club Scholarship, 1985

Contact Information:

Vita Wright
Science Application Specialist / Social Science Analyst
USFS RMRS, Human Factors & Risk Management RD&A
NPS Branch of Wildland Fire, Fire Science & Ecology Program
Phone: 406-758-3547; 406-396-5374
Fax: (406) 758-3537 E-mail: vwright [at] fs.fed.us Research Page: http://leopold.wilderness.net/research/fprojects/F016.htm















Rocky Mountain Research Station,  USDA Forest Service