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2014 ADKHighpeaks Foundation Grant Award Winners

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  • 2014 ADKHighpeaks Foundation Grant Award Winners

    It's time to announce the 2014 ADKHighpeaks Grant Award Winners. This year, for the first time in our history, we have awarded 2 separate and very unique projects grants that total over $10,000 (between the two).

    1) ADK Summit Steward (Cascade) - For the 4th consecutive year, we will be supporting this valuable hiker education program. Last year, we pledged ongoing support for this valuable part of this Summit Steward Program to run from 2013-2018 (5 years). This will be the second year of that obligation. We here at the foundation are extremely proud to be able to be associated with Julia and her merry band of stewards whose reach to the masses has arguably done more to protect the fragile alpine areas of the High Peaks region then any other effort. Funding Cascade these last few years has been made a HUGE impact in terms of # of contacts and general outreach. Grant award ~$5400

    2) Beyond Ktaadn - We have also awarded $5000 to this Beyond Ktaadn, for the funds to specifically designated to an academic study to be conducted by Kristen Haynes (and her group) as part of a post-graduate level project at SUNY-ESF. Many things attracted the Foundation to offer support, but 3 really stand out; 1) It directly apples to part of our mission statement "biological research" that we have hereto not yet found an opportunity to support (until now). 2) The project itself (see below), and 3) Kristen's infectious passion for the work, the project and the greater outdoors.

    Here is a little more about the project from Kristen herself;

    Title: Assessing the vulnerability of Boott's Rattlesnake-root (Prenanthes boottii) to rapid environmental change.

    Plants in the northeast alpine zone are currently faced with many threats, including hiker trampling, atmospheric nitrogen deposition, and climate change. Species faced with environmental changes such as these have three possible responses if they are to survive: stay put and adapt to the change, stay put and tolerate the change, or move. It is expected that over the long term, only adaptation or movement will ensure species survival.

    Boott's Rattlesnake-root (Prenanthes boottii) is a globally imperiled alpine plant species endemic to New York and New England. In this study, I will use population genetic techniques to examine the ability of Boott's Rattlesnake-root to respond to the environmental changes predicted for the northeast alpine zone through adaptation and movement.

    Estimates of genetic diversity--within populations, and for the species as a whole--will inform us about the plant's ability to adapt to a changing environment. Estimates of long-distance dispersal ability, inferred from patterns of gene flow, will inform us about the ability of the plant to move across the landscape in response to a changing environment. I will use genomic and chloroplastic sequence data to compute these estimates.

    This study is the first to examine, through DNA sequencing, the capacity for evolution of a threatened alpine zone plant in the face of potential environmental changes. It is noteworthy that change of temperature is a well-known powerful driver of species extinction. The findings will inform conservation of this particular species, enabling us to determine which populations of Boott's Rattlesnake-root are most vulnerable to extinction, and why. Applying the knowledge gleaned by this study to alpine zone plant ecology and conservation in general will enable increasingly accurate predictions regarding adaptation and survival of other plant species as we further accumulate data .
    We would like to congratulate Julia (ADK Summit Steward Program), Beyond Ktaadn and Kristen for their grants and wish them all the best with their projects and endeavors in the coming year.

    We will, of course, be continuing our adoption of the Mt. Adams Firetower and trail. This post will be closed to general comments, but if you have questions, or want to start a separate discussion on either, or all of the project, you are encouraged to do so in a separate thread the open forum.
    "The forest is the poor man's overcoat. " Old Northeastern Proverb