The science advisor, according to a media release, will play a key role in advancing science within the Park Service and advising the NPS director on science policy and programs.
“Applying the very best science and scholarly research to management of national parks is critical,” Jarvis said in the release. “The appointment of Dr. Machlis to this new and important position will advance the role of science within our agency as we meet the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. Dr. Machlis is a proven leader and innovator within the scientific community.”
This is what Machlis will do in his new job, according to the release:
In his role as science advisor to the director, Machlis will provide his expertise and advice on matters of science and will help in the effective delivery of scientific information to NPS managers, decision makers, the Department of the Interior (DOI), Congress, stakeholders, park visitors, and citizens. He will help assure that NPS uses the best available science to address the complex natural and cultural resource challenges facing the service, from climate change to science education for youth. Dr. Machlis will work to advance the director’s and DOI Secretary’s commitment to science as a means of managing and preserving the resources entrusted to the NPS.
This will come as a huge relief to the people of the Outer Banks, who have been asking to see the science behind the consent decree, which now substitutes for resource management by the Park Service on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore.
Perhaps Dr. Machlis can tell us something more about how scientists formulated those huge buffers around nesting piping plover chicks.
Machlis received his B.S. and M.S. in forestry at the University of Washington, and his Ph.D. in human ecology at Yale University.
I had to Google “human ecology.”
The field addresses the “human dimensions of environmental problems.” Rutgers University says that human ecologists “use their expertise in the natural and social sciences to study the effects of human activities on the environment and the impact of environmental changes on individuals and communities.”
We sure could use Dr. Machlis at Cape Hatteras to shed some light on the “human dimension of environmental problems,” such as closing down large areas of the most popular beaches from April into August to protect nesting birds.
Machlis is no stranger to the Park Service.
In 1995, he was appointed as the first Visiting Chief Social Scientist for the NPS. In that capacity, he established the Social Science Program in the Washington, D.C., office of the NPS, providing leadership on social science activities throughout the National Park Service. He had a lead role in establishing and coordinating the Canon National Parks Science Scholars Program, which funds doctoral students in the United States, Canada, and Latin America studying issues of importance to national parks.
In 2002, Machlis became the Park Service’s Visiting Senior Scientist and coordinator of the Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit, a partnership between 13 federal agencies and universities.
He is currently a professor of conservation at the University of Idaho and has written several books on conservation. According to the media release, his recent research has been published in journals as varied as Climatic Change, Society and Natural Resources, BioScience, and Conservation Biology.
While Machlis has been busy as Visiting Chief Social Scientist and Visiting Senior Scientist with the Park Service, he has also been busy in private enterprise.
He is listed as a founding principal of the Ilahie Group, LLC, a niche consulting company with offices in Moscow, Idaho, and Alexandria, Va. The company’s philosophy is “to help scientific, professional, and governmental organizations plan, communicate, operate, and serve their own clients more effectively and efficiently.
Curiously, among the clients that the Ilahie Group lists on its Web site is the National Park Service.
“I am enthused and grateful for the opportunity to serve as the first Science Advisor to the NPS Director,” Machlis said. "This is an extraordinary time to advance science within the Service, and I look forward to working with the DOI and NPS leadership, our outstanding scientists, partner agencies, field professionals, and the scientific community.”
Machlis’ job description spells out that he will be responsible for the “effective delivery of scientific information” to, among others, stakeholders, park visitors, and citizens.
Well, we know some stakeholders, park visitors, and citizens who are interested in getting some scientific information about management of the seashore beaches.