Nate Hough-Snee

Occupation: Riparian Ecologist and PhD Student

Affiliation: USDA Forest Service Pacfish-Infish Biological Opinion and Utah State University Department of Watershed Sciences and Ecology Center

Nate’s Research: I am studying how beaver (Castor Canadensis) interact with geomorphic processes, hydrologic variability and natural and human-mediated disturbances to shape riparian vegetation communities and in-stream habitats. As beaver build, abandon and repair dams, they may shape plant communities and streams in predictable enough ways that people can utilize their services to restore stream and riparian ecosystems in semi-arid environments.


B.A. Environmental Studies, University of Washington

M.S. Ecosystem Analysis, University of Washington

PhD In Progress, Utah State University

Favorite Plant Species: Generally, it’s all about the sedge (Carex) and willows (Salix), but on a perfect day, I’d get to see an Oregon ash (Fraxinus latifolia) swamp and a nice, cool Western redcedar (Thuja plicata) stream too.

Best Sampling Road Trip: I’m pleased to say that every trip up Logan Canyon makes me feel like a little kid again. For acute shock and awe, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge was also pretty amazing.

Places I’ve Lived: Utah, Washington, Alaska, Ohio, and rural New Zealand.

In my field Backpack: As long as I have sunscreen and something to play music on, I’m basically set. If I have gummy bears and bananas, then I might get something done. If I have a GPS, plant press and some surveying gear, then I will almost certainly accomplish something.

When I became a river rat: As a kid growing up near Lake Erie, I was fortunate to experience both the outdoors and a blue-collar youth. I rode my bike to catch fish across a human-dominated landscape. I saw as much pavement as I did forest. Growing up, nature wasn’t a national park – it was a Metropark and the Laurentian Great Lake that Dr. Seuss made fun of. From these places I learned that ecosystems couldn’t be studied, managed or restored without considering the people surrounding them.

Why I’m still a river rat:  As ecological research and restoration progress in parallel, there is a unique opportunity to test both ecological theory and environmental management in real time. Although it’s cliché, ecological research can improve society’s ability to respond to management challenges in ecosystems of all types, from streams and forests to novel and urban ecosystems. It doesn’t hurt that the people who comprise the ecological research and restoration communities are generally top-notch.

Places I’ve Done Research:

  1. Union Bay Natural Area and University of Washington Botanic Gardens, WA, USA
  2. Interior Alaska, USA
  3. Center for Sustainable Forestry at Pack Forest, Eatonville, WA, USA
  4. Lake Omapere, New Zealand
  5. Mediterranean shrublands outside of Pichilemu de Chile
  6. North Cascades National Park, WA, USA
  7. Cache-Uinta-Wasatch National Forest, UT, USA
  8. Interior Columbia River Basin (ID, WA, OR, MT), USA

Nate’s Contact Info:

▪   Email Nate at

▪   Follow Nate on Twitter at: @NHoughSnee

▪   Learn more about Nate’s research at: or at the ET AL Lab

** Nate’s research is funded by the Utah State University, ET-AL Lab, and the USDA Forest Service.

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