The influence of AmeriCorps members on ecosystem management, Journal of Cleaner Production
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AbstractMillions of acres of public lands across the United States (U.S.) face imminent threats from invasive species and wildfires, jeopardizing ecosystem health, wildlife habitats, recreational resources, and community safety. The responsible agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, and state park agencies, are limited in their capacity to effectively manage these lands. Consequently, AmeriCorps members play a crucial role in curbing invasive species proliferation and mitigating wildfire fuel loads, safeguarding communities, and habitats. Here, the results of a national evaluation to assess the impact of AmeriCorps members on invasive species and wildfire fuel loads is presented. This study is a comprehensive analysis of AmeriCorps members' effectiveness in achieving ecosystem management objectives, revealing positive responses in native species cover and notable improvements in treated plots. AmeriCorps units that yielded significant results operated under specific temperature conditions and adhered to distinct pre- and post-intervention data collection intervals. Despite occasional challenges, the overall efficacy of AmeriCorps' efforts in eradicating targeted invasive species and promoting positive native species responses was confirmed. While linear regression models indicated successful forest fuel mitigation in AmeriCorps programs, the Difference-in-Difference models revealed less conspicuous outcomes, suggesting limited modifications in parameters such as the height of the lowest living branch, canopy cover, and litter depth. By analyzing data from multiple AmeriCorps programs in diverse geographic regions, this study contributes valuable insights into the effectiveness of AmeriCorps programs in ecological conservation. It represents one of the first multi-state and comprehensive examinations of AmeriCorps members' effectiveness in invasive species management and wildfire fuel mitigation in the USA, underscoring its significance in the field of ecosystem management.
Journal titleJournal of Cleaner Production