Erick Carlson

I have the privilege to work with Dr. David Cooper on the ecological functions supported by incidental and human created wetlands related to irrigation and urban infrastructure. Wetlands in semi-arid, agricultural landscapes are often associated with irrigation structures. With water movement and timing controlled largely by humans the hydrology has no natural analog. As pressures on water use increase, ag land is being developed and irrigation infrastructure is updated or taken out of service, the net ecological value of wetlands could change for a region. Specifically I'll be looking at several locations (Colorado's Front Range, SE Wyoming, Vernal UT) to see where wetlands are established and if they have developed ecological functions similar to natural wetlands. Secondly the irrigation network itself now acts like the ephemeral and seasonal streams of these regions. Do these provide similar functions or is their orientation perpendicular to the land surface indicative of significant difference. Outside of academics I compete with the CSU Cycling Team, hike, camp and ski throughout this wonderful state.