In the 2016-17 academic year, Dr. Spoon continued his applied research on natural disaster recovery in Nepal and the interface of indigenous peoples and mountainous protected areas in the Great Basin and Pacific Northwest. Funded by a National Science Foundation RAPID grant, Dr. Spoon and his Nepali research team conducted a second research phase in Nepal aiming to understand how social-ecological systems in rural mountain areas recover from the devastating impacts of the 2015 Nepal earthquakes. The team re-contacted the 400 participating households in the project one and a half years after the earthquakes to carry out household surveys. They also conducted focus groups with key consultants and mapped proximity to slope failure (landslides) and local infrastructure. Dr. Spoon presented on this research at seven public talks and three guest lectures, including invited presentations at PSU, Oregon State University, San Diego State University, University of Heidelberg (South Asia Institute) and Tribhuvan University. Dr. Spoon also authored and co-authored two photo blogs (Life After the Nepal Quakes), a news story, and an article for the PSU research magazine (Drawing Lessons from a Catastrophe) related to the research. In fall 2017, he plans to return to Nepal to give back results and solicit feedback from participants, government and non-governmental organization stakeholders.
Dr. Spoon also continued his project with the Department of Energy (DOE), Nevada Field Office and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to revegetate a low-level nuclear waste storage site on the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) (formerly the Nevada Test Site). The project blends indigenous knowledge and western science to create innovative restoration solutions. This project operationalizes recommendations from a subgroup of expert knowledge holders representing Nuwuvi (Southern Paiute), Newe (Western Shoshone) and Nuwu (Owens Valley Paiute) Nations to conduct a revegetation study at the site that can also be generalized to other areas on the NNSS and beyond. He also facilitated a semi-annual Tribal Update Meeting among representatives from DOE, NNSA and 16 culturally affiliated tribes to the NNSS.
Dr. Spoon and his graduate student team planned and implemented the sixth annual Gathering For Our Mountains intergenerational pine nut harvest and knowledge exchange event in the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area and Desert National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada. This year again included more than 150 participants from Nuwuvi, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service. For the second consecutive year, Dr. Spoon and his team conducted an evaluation of the event, which he plans to replicate each year for a longitudinal study. Dr. Spoon and his team also facilitated two bi-annual update and planning meetings among Nuwuvi, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service.
In collaboration with Fish and Wildlife, Dr. Spoon and his former graduate student Kate Barcalow drafted a Traditional Cultural Place (TCP) nomination to the National Register of Historic Places for the Sheep Mountains within the one million acre Desert National Wildlife Refuge (DNWR). Dr. Spoon and his graduate student Yarrow Geggus also carried out research on the historical ecology of natural springs in the DNWR.
Dr. Spoon and Pahrump Paiute Chairperson Richard Arnold presented on their nine year collaboration among Nuwuvi and southern Nevada public land managers at the Bi-State (Nevada and California) Traditional Ecological Summit sponsored by the Nevada Indian Commission in Carson City, Nevada, participated and presented at the Fish and Wildlife Communications, Outreach and Visitors Services Workshop at the National Conservation Training Center in West Virginia, and conducted a national Sacred Sites Webinar for the Forest Service.
Lastly, Dr. Spoon participated in the Expert Meeting on Integrating the Spiritual and Cultural Significance of Nature into Protected and Conserved Area Governance and Management on Vilm Island, Germany. The IUCN (The International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Task Force on Spiritual and Cultural Values of Protected Areas (CSVPA) sponsored this workshop. He is attending a second workshop in June 2017 and is serving on the editorial team to create global guidelines as a deliverable from the effort. Dr. Spoon and Richard Arnold also co-authored an online case study for the CSVPA website related to their applied research in the Great Basin (Nuwuvi Ancestral Territory).
At PSU, Dr. Spoon’s Environmental Anthropology class co-planned and implemented a community engagement day at the Baltimore Woods in North Portland focused on habitat restoration.