WEST the early years – FIFRA project
Lyman and Dale recruited Greg Johnson to come work for WEST in late 1991, to build on work for which Lyman was involved in with data analysis for field projects conducted under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). After much discussion among Dale, Lyman, and Greg, WEST accepted a contract from Miles Corporation to conduct a large FIFRA field study to evaluate effects of a nematicide used on golf courses in Florida. The project entailed trapping and using colored tags to mark six species of birds – northern mockingbird, brown thrasher, northern cardinal, eastern towhee, loggerhead shrike and blue jay – on both control and treatment areas of three golf courses. Re-sighting surveys were then conducted to record the marked birds to assess effects of the treatment. The project required hiring a field crew of 13 people. To help assist with the project, Greg recruited Dave Young in early 1992 and they spent three months in Winter Haven, Florida that year conducting the study. WEST’s foray into FIFRA studies was short-lived as the federal government stopped requiring field studies for pesticide registration in 1993. #WEST30Years
WEST's First Employee - Wally Erickson
A large project like Exxon Valdez Oil Spill was a great way to start a company and led to WEST’s first hire, Wally Erickson, in May 1991, after finishing his M.S. under Lyman. Wally first joined the field crews on the Pacific Star in Prince William Sound and then worked on other project research vessels along the Kenai and Alaska Peninsulas and the Kodiak Archipelago. Wally has over 29 years of experience applying statistical solutions to a wide variety of natural resource challenges to date. He is currently a senior statistician with WEST, and has previously served as WEST’s COO and CEO. #WEST30Years
WEST’s First Project – Exxon Valdez Oil Spill
In March of 1989, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker struck a reef in Prince William Sound releasing millions of gallons of oil. Considered one of the worst oil spills in the world, the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill (EVOS) affected 1,300 miles of shoreline throughout Prince William Sound and other parts of southwest Alaska. WEST’s first project included designing a study to evaluate the impact of wildlife and natural resources resulting from the EVOS. The project gave WEST experience in working on Natural Resource Damage Assessments and on the design of a sampling plan for a very large study area. Most importantly, this project gave Lyman and Dale the courage to start a consulting company, resulting in the founding of WEST. #WEST30Years
WEST was founded in the summer of 1990 by its two principals, Dr. Dale Strickland and Dr. Lyman McDonald. Over the course of many years of friendship, Dale and Lyman combined their biological and statistical expertise to create a unique environmental consulting firm.
“The two friends had no grandiose long-term plans except to have a company that would excel in the design, conduct and analysis of ecological field studies. They also wanted the company to be a place where people enjoyed the work and a company they would enjoy working for. They envisioned a company of maybe 25 professional employees. They did not anticipate the exponential growth that arose because good young employees matured quickly and soon ran their own projects, which lead to them needing help.” – Excerpt from WEST’s History Manuscript #WEST30Years
WEST celebrates 30 Years
WEST is celebrating 30 years of success this month! From a modest two-person company, WEST has grown to be an industry leading environmental and statistical consulting firm with over 350 employees spanning the U.S. and Canada. Follow #WEST30years to keep up with WEST history, fun facts, and project milestones as we celebrate!
WEST staff participated on the Environmental Law Institute's People, Place, Planet Podcast
WEST’s Dr. Karl Kosciuch participated on the Environmental Law Institute’s People, Place, Planet Podcast to discuss the nexus of solar energy development and wildlife issues. Karl and Brooke Marcus Wahlberg, with Nossaman LLP, reviewed the regulatory connection between wildlife and solar development, and talked about the potential benefits of PV solar for habitat and pollinators. You can find the podcast at the link below or on your favorite audio app.Click Here for More Info
WEST Publication - Greater Sage-Grouse Response to Energy Development
WEST wildlife biologists Kurt Smith and Chad LeBeau are co-authors on the recently published research article, “Greater Sage-Grouse Response to the Physical Footprint of Energy Development,” published in the Journal of Wildlife Management.
You can view the publication here: https://wildlife.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/jwmg.21854?campaign=woletoc
WEST interviewed by The Pew Charitable Trusts
The Pew Charitable Trusts interviewed and featured WEST research biologist Hall Sawyer for a recent study Hall co-authored in the Journal of Wildlife Management published in March, “Migratory Disturbance Thresholds with Mule Deer and Energy Development.”
The full interview, “How Does Energy Development Affect Wildlife Migration Patterns” can be viewed here: https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/articles/2020/06/08/how-does-energy-development-affect-wildlife-migration-patterns
Ecological Sampling & Study Design Workshop
WEST is launching a series of online ecological statistics workshops, and the first is “Ecological Sampling & Study Design” on June 10, 17, 24, taught by Drs. Trent McDonald and Jason Carlisle. This workshop teaches practical options for spatially balanced sampling of spatial domains and panel rotation for sampling through time. Upcoming workshops include Bayesian analysis, distance sampling, and trend detection.
For more information, to register, or to subscribe to our series announcements, visit:
WEST Senior Restoration Ecologist certified 20 years
WEST senior restoration ecologist Beth Markhart was certified as a Professional Wetland Scientist in 1995, one year into the inception of the program, and has been recertified every five years through demonstrated ongoing wetland professional work. Her work has included specialized permitting, such as development of Special Area Management Plan designation for regionalized Corps permitting, comprehensive wetland plans, restoration design, construction oversight, and performance monitoring, in addition to jurisdictional delineation. Beth developed the first “May is wetlands month” educational activity in Minnesota in the early 1990s, and has been active in Society leadership.