Trump And Vets, Snapshot Wisconsin, Overstating Nature’s Restorative Benefits

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The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, UW-Madison researchers and NASA are teaming up to track the state’s wildlife using trail cameras. Our guests explain how this will change conservation strategies across the state. We also talk about the actual restorative benefits of nature, and look at the latest news about Donald Trump and contributions to veterans’ groups.

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  • New Project Installs Trail Cameras Throughout Wisconsin To Monitor Wildlife

    An impressive cadre of researchers just launched a new initiative to install trail cameras throughout Wisconsin that will help scientists keep track of the state’s wildlife populations.

    Snapshot Wisconsin kicked off earlier this month and brings together workers and researchers from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Madison and NASA to try to create an accurate and complete picture of the state’s animal populations.

    Most of the cameras have been deployed in southwestern Wisconsin so far, but thousands more will be added over time, and residents can even get involved with their own trail cameras, or help classify the animals that appear in the photos. The project also incorporate satellite imagery technology and crowd-sourced databases. Participating “citizen scientists” install the motion-sensored cameras on their private property and then monitor the photos and ultimately, upload it to the project’s website. Wisconsin residents interested in volunteering are encouraged to sign-up at

    The cameras are triggered by motion and heat. Additionally, the cameras will snap one time-lapse photo every day at 11 a.m. That photo will help capture the greening-up the local environments during the spring and the browning-down during the fall — conditions that affect animal migration patterns. It’s also the time of day that NASA’s satellites become available in the sky above.

    Between the images and the satellite imagery, researchers said that they hope to put together comprehensive maps of the state’s vegetation and crop landscape.

    “One thing that Snapshot Wisconsin really does is increase our extent of monitoring across the state,” said Jennifer Stenglein, a research scientist with the DNR and one of the leaders of the project. “I think that’s a real benefit. A lot of the monitoring that we already have going on might be in just the northern part of the state or during a certain time of the year. And what Snapshot Wisconsin does is that it gives us a broader picture and a more consistent picture for all types of wildlife all across the state and all throughout the year.”

    Stenglein said one of the primary motivations for the initiative was to track Wisconsin’s deer herds to help calculate the fawn-to-doe ratios. Deer advisory councils in counties throughout the state rely on population counts to set hunting quotas and other natural resource management parameters.

    Phil Townsend, a professor of forest and wildlife ecology at UW-Madison, helped bring together NASA and Zooniverse, a citizen science web portal that provides some of the online infrastructure, on board with the project. He said NASA called for project submissions to use the data their satellites are already gathering in new and helpful ways.

    “NASA is really interested in the data that they collect being used for more than just science,” said Townsend. “We were specifically required to work with a natural resource management agency to bring NASA data into their process to help an agency with decision making.”

    As the cameras get mounted and the data trickles in, the puzzle pieces of Wisconsin’s wildlife will slowly snap together to provide scientists a larger picture of the natural landscape. But just as exciting, said Townsend, will be the uncommon, perhaps even exiotic, animals that are certain to be caught on film and uploaded into the state’s photo album.

  • Are Nature's Restorative Effects Overrated?

    A lot of people feel overwhelmed from time-to-time as they juggle work, family and friends. And when people need to get away from fast-paced lives to recharge the energy depleted by stress, many might retreat for an ideal hike through the woods, a walk along a beach or maybe set up camp under the stars. Nature, it seems, allows some overstressed brains to recoup.

    But according to new research in the Journal of Consumer Psychology by Kevin Newman, an assistant professor focusing on consumer behavior at Providence College School of Business in Rhode Island, the benefits of escaping to solitary natural spaces might be overstated, particular for some personality types. For neurotic personalities in particular, Newman said being in urban spaces, surrounded by beeping cars and loud pedestrians, could be just as restorative as a natural retreat.

    Moreover, the woods, beach and mountains might actually induce them with stress.

    “We looked at this idea of environmental compatibility,” said Newman.

    Study participants performed a mentally-draining task and then answered questions that helped researchers determine their level of neuroticism. The participants were then exposed and primed by words or pictures associated with either natural or urban environments. Those with neurotic personality-types — generally associated with being consumed by anxiety, worry and negative emotions — felt mentally rejuvenated by the urban scenes. Nature environments restored those who were less neurotic.

    Just think of putting the quintessential neurotic Woody Allen in the forest, said Newman. The film director wouldn’t probably find it rejuvenating. After all, he is thought to have said, “I’m two with nature,” and “I love nature. I just don’t want to get any of it on me.”

    Newman said that he was a bit surprised by the study’s results, and despite an inherent cultural bias to focus on the restorative effects of nature, it’s time to pay closer attention to the how the urban environment can provide soothing effects to some specific types of people.

  • A Look At Trump And Veterans

    Over the course of his presidential campaign, Donald Trump has found himself at odds with numerous different groups. This week, it’s veterans. At issue here is $6 million Trump claimed was raised during a January fundraiser and donated to veterans charities. A political analyst breaks down the story, and looks at how Trump is doing with veterans.

  • State, University, And NASA Team Up To Document State Wildlife

    State researchers, UW professors and officials at NASA are using a network of trail cameras to document wildlife all across the state. Two researchers involved in the project talk about Snapshot Wisconsin.

  • Waterfalls Vs. Honking Cars: Why Not Everyone Finds Nature Relaxing

    Go for a hike through a forest, take a walk along the beach, camp out in the woods — those are all familiar recommendations for anyone that needs to take a break from their overwhelming day-to-day lives.

    But according to research from our guest, the benefits of escaping to solitary natural spaces might be overstated because it doesn’t work for everyone. For neurotic personalities in particular, being in urban spaces, surrounded by beeping cars and loud pedestrians could be just as restorative as a natural retreat.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Matt Oleson Producer
  • Haleema Shah Producer
  • Chris Malina Producer
  • Phil Townsend Guest
  • Kevin Newman Guest
  • Peter Feaver Guest

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