Montana field notes: Meet Greta

Greta Hoffman and Lily Jane Clarke are field research interns working in the Crown of the Continent this summer.

Travis Belote

Editor's note: For the next three months, we will be bringing you updates from the field from The Wilderness Society interns Lily Clarke and Greta Hoffman who are conducting research in the Crown of the Continent this summer. Stay tuned for future blog posts and photo updates, as Lily and Greta make their way from Swan Valley to Bob Marshall Wilderness.

This summer, I will be working in the field with researchers from The Wilderness Society in the Crown of the Continent. I will be camping, hiking and living in the Seeley and Swan districts of the Lolo National Forest, the Lincoln district of the Helena National Forest and the spectacular Bob Marshall Wilderness.

Over these next few months, I hope to gain perspective on different forest management techniques, become more proficient at identifying species in the wild, and gather key data that will be incorporated into important research. I also hope to spread the word about the importance of conservation and wilderness, and get people excited about forest ecology and protecting the irrefutable beauty and significance of Montana’s wild lands.

Photo: Travis Belote

Spending my first college summer outside, roaming the beautiful mountains and forests of western Montana, is an opportunity like no other. Being raised in Montana has given me a deeply rooted appreciation for wilderness and nature, so the opportunity to spend my summer doing what I love, in a place so close to my heart, is like a dream come true.

For the next three months, I will be gathering key forest data through the Rapid Forest Assessment technique used to research the effects of treatments like prescribed burns and thinning on timber stands, in addition to promoting the reestablishment of natural fire regimes. The re-implementation of these wildfires, paired with careful research and forest treatments, will allow various types of wildlife to flourish in their natural habitat while keeping communities safe by permitting natural fires to burn deep in the wilderness and stop before they reach the wilderness-urban interface.

Rapid Forest Assessment is a project stemming from the Collective Forest Landscape Restoration Program. In addition to gathering valuable scientific and ecological data. The project strives to promote relationships between organizations, citizen scientists and researchers in order to create a more healthy forest ecosystem. 

Between stints in the magnificent Montana forests, I will be reporting our team’s findings, realizations, stories and any new developments we come across. I invite you to follow our amazing journey this summer through this blog series. Our hope is that through our writings, you will feel connected to this special place we call home. And maybe one day (if you haven’t already) you, too, will get to experience the unparalleled calm feeling of a sunny summer afternoon, while standing under the shade of a giant Western Larch on a wildflower-filled slope, gazing at the towering mountains above that reach up into the deep blue yonder of the Big Sky. 

Greta Hoffman is a rising sophomore currently studying Ecology and Organismal Biology at the University of Montana in Missoula. She hails from Helena, Montana, and likes to hike with her mom, fly fish with her dad, cook, go camping, run and hang out with family and friends.

Photo: Greta Hoffman and Lily Jane Clarke

Related links:

Montana field notes: On the ground in the Crown of the Continent

Montana field notes: Meet Lily