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The Pando Photographic Survey

Creating a vital record for scientists to study and the world to enjoy for generations to come.

Documenting Pando

Since 2008, when Pando’s size was verified by researchers, the world’s largest tree has been the subject of countless headlines and stories that stir wonder, advance scientific debates, and capture the imagination of tree lovers and travelers from around the world. In fact, 300,000 people a year visit the land Pando calls home, not only to experience the tree, but also to enjoy Fish Lake, the largest natural mountain freshwater lake in Utah. Despite Pando’s outsized popularity, we lack a complete photographic record of the tree, a record scientists and land managers need to understand, track and monitor the tree’s health. This project is especially is especially important as those who study the tree are finding evidence that Pando is in decline for reasons we have yet to fully understand.

Since the 1860’s, photography has played a critical role helping scientists, the public and policy makers understand and protect the majesty of the American landscape. Although it may be hard to believe, scientists still use photos taken in the 1800 and 1900’s and compare them with pictures taken today to better understand how subjects or the land changes over time; a practice known as re-photography. In an era of satellites, artificial intelligence and GPS, re-photography may seem outdated, but it plays a vital role in forest management and conservation. By creating the first photograph of Pando, our work will provide a baseline image by which scientist and land managers can mark and monitor changes that can be used for generations to come.

In summer of 2021, working with students and citizen scientists, Friends of Pando will lead the effort to create the first color image of Pando’s entire 106-acre span using cutting-edge 360-degree cameras and global information systems. Once complete, the Pando Photographic Survey will be made freely available for scientists to study and the world to enjoy.

Sample Image of Pando in 360

Inspiring Stewardship

Creating the first photographic survey of the Pando will involve not only logistical challenges, but collaboration and coordination. We will bridge the realms of art and science bring together a diverse group of people, skills and perspectives. The survey group will include artists, community leaders, designers, ecologists, foresters, hospitality managers, land managers and scientists. Additionally, to help prepare the stewards of tomorrow today, Friends of Pando will pay 15 students from natural sciences, art, film and design programs from throughout the US to train on equipment and take part in the shoot and production of the photographic survey and Virtual Pando exhibit. Students will also take part in nightly workshops on everything from art and land management to forest science and the studies on what makes Pando unique. The project will allow the students the chance to explore their creativity and their reasoning skills, while earning valuable field experience and recommendations from leading scientists and artists. Work we believe they can grow from, and be proud to name in their list of accomplishments throughout their careers.    

Bringing Pando to the World

Today, we know immersive experiences with nature play a critical role in cultivating awareness, promoting understanding and inspiring stewardship. Despite this, Pando’s remote location, hectic terrain and sheer size create a variety of logistical and natural barriers to many who would like to study and experience the tree first hand. The Pando Photographic Survey will not only create the first large scale image of the tree, but it will also be used to help scientists, educators and the world enjoy the tree through two additional programs.

The Pando Photographic Survey Website
A freely available website will host the results of the photographic survey. Featuring all 11,300 images taken this summer, the site will host the photographic survey and related location data and tools allowing scientists and educators to explore and study Pando wherever they are.

Pando: The World Tree Virtual Experience

Using images taken during the Photographic Survey and short subject documentaries created about the tree, Lead Photographer and Producer Lance Oditt will create Pando: The World Tree, a virtual land art installation that will allow people world-wide to experience Pando’s 106-acre expanse using their mobile devices. They’ll learn about the tree and what they can do to ensure it is enjoyed for generations to come.

The Pando Photographic Survey By the Numbers

Meet the Team

This project is an all-volunteer endeavor and would not be possible without the support of our many volunteers and partners. On July 31, 2021 these nineteen volunteers gatherdc in the Fishlake Basin to photograph the entirety of the Pando for posterity.

Lance Oditt, Lead Photographer

Lance Oditt, Lead Photographer

Lance Oditt is a fine art and documentary photographer based in Seattle, Washington. Lance is the Lead Photographer for the Pando Photographic Survey. In addition to this work, Lance is the Photographer-at-Large for the Western Aspen Alliance and Executive Director of Accessibility for Quiet Parks International. His work documenting the endangered Pando Tree has appeared in Digital Photographer, Professional Photographers of America, Discover Magazine, PBS Newshour, The New York Times, Topos Magazine and Nature. His photographic works have been shown at the Richfield Visitor's Center, Microsoft (Redmond, WA), the APA San Francisco's "Something Personal" exhibit (2018) and have been commended and shown online by the National Forest Foundation.

Ryan Thalman, Scientific Advisor

Ryan Thalman, Scientific Advisor

I'm Ryan Thalman, an Associate Professor at Snow College in Richfield, Utah teaching Chemistry, Geographic Information Systems, and Natural Resources. I enjoy teaching a highly field-based curriculum which lets students get practical experiences in a variety of Natural Resource related careers as well as experience in field work in areas such as forestry, range management, recreation, and land management.

J Brunner, Senior Photographer

J Brunner, Senior Photographer

I'm J Brunner. I was born in Hunter, Utah but I'm from lots of different places. I'm a photographer/print maker (photography is a process for me, not necessarily an avocation.) I currently reside in Seaview Washington, near Cape Disappointment. My hobbies are travel and the outdoors.

The entire scope of Pando excites me, both the science and the spirit of it. Responsible and pragmatic conservation is part of my career ethos. Interesting things about me.. My right eye is permanently focused at 12 inches... without glasses I see the world two dimensionally, like a painting or photograph, which may be why I chose the career I did.

In the fall of 2020 I decided to create a print collection focused on Pando, I was led by my research to contact Paul Rogers at the Western Aspen Alliance who was very helpful and put me in touch with Lance Odit, the WAA photographer at large. Lance was kind, candid, helpful, and extremely forthcoming with information on the geography, history, and challenges of making images of the clone. The collection would not be what it is without Lance's gracious help. I had the pleasure of meeting Lance when we were both in Salt Lake City, and he was kind enough to invite me to participate in the photographic survey, and I'm very excited to be a part of this project.

Janis Connell, Senior Photographer

Janis Connell, Senior Photographer

I'm Janis Connell and JanisCArtistry is my venue for sharing my fine art in photography and glass mosaics and fusing. After retiring from Corporate America in 2014, I have been remaking myself into an artist, photographer, and traveler. My husband and I bought an RV and have been seeing the US for over six years now. I cherish our US National Parks (and all our public lands) and I have a goal to visit all 62 of them and I'm over halfway there having visited 33 (our dog has been to 22 parks!). I love to experience nature via hiking, biking, and especially from my portable hammock!

I have learned over time that I can do things I never thought would be possible. Through determination and persistence, I've become a photographer, ridden my bike across Iowa (RAGBRAI), hiked the Grand Canyon several times, and summited Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. If you'd told me 20 years ago that these things were going to happen, I would have had a good belly laugh over it. But, they did happen and I'm here to tell you about these adventures through stories and photographs.

My current adventure is happening in Durango, CO, our new hometown. We arrived via RV here in April of 2020 in the midst of the pandemic and we are still here... We bought 36 acres just outside of town and we are building our dream home. I have been having a blast exploring SW Colorado and all the Four Corners area has to offer. I'm lucky to be living my dream. I can't wait to see what's next.

Hope Smith, Hospitality Coordinator

Hope Smith, Hospitality Coordinator

I’m Hope Smith and I'm volunteering for the Pando Photographic Survey helping with logistics and hospitality. I have a background in non-profit and worked for 13 years as an Executive Director at two health-related non-profits. I loved that my work made a difference in people’s lives and learned so much about how to bring people together and get things done. These days, I work in HR for a software engineering firm whose mission is a clean-powered planet.

I love the outdoors and was captivated by the idea preserving this snapshot of the entirety of the Pando for scientific research and future generations, as well as the idea of being part of something that has never been done before. I'm really looking forward to meeting all the amazing people who are volunteering and being part of creating a legacy that will help us better understand this amazing tree.

Wilson Thorpe, Photographer

Wilson Thorpe, Photographer

Hi there, I’m Wilson! I am a 21 year old graphic design student entering my senior year at SUNY Fredonia in upstate New York.

Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved finding new ways to express myself through my art. I love to spend my free time creating new art projects and taking photographs of nature and my friends. My hometown is Cold Spring, New York, a beautiful small town right on the Hudson River. The photography opportunities are endless in a beautiful place like the Hudson Valley, and I try to take pictures of the changing scenery as often as I can.

I am really looking forward to becoming a part of the Pando Photographic Survey team and can’t wait to experience the beauty of the forest firsthand.

Lena Lindsay, Photographer

Lena Lindsay, Photographer

I am Lena Lindsay and I am from Sandy, Utah. I am currently working as a swim teacher and English tutor, and I am a sophomore at Brigham Young University studying Education. In my spare time I enjoy all sports, spending time with good people in the great outdoors, photography, floral design, and learning new things. I’m looking forward to participating in the Pando Photographic Survey and I am excited to experience something new with new people who have a lot of common interests with me. I love photography and documenting the world around us, I adore nature and camping and the planet that we live on, and I love learning new things.

Ngawang Salaka, Photographer

Ngawang Salaka, Photographer

Hey! I'm Ngawang Salaka, currently a B.A. Visual Arts & New Media/psychology at SUNY Fredonia as well as an aspiring interaction designer. The thing that gets me excited about the Pando Photographic Survey is being able to contribute to a project that revolves around the world's heaviest known organism. Even as I'm typing this, the thought of that fact alone quite blows my mind. I'm excited to contribute this summer through more than just design thinking and hopefully make history by helping with this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Kaci Anderton, Photographer

Kaci Anderton, Photographer

My name is Kaci Anderton and I am from Monroe, Utah. I am currently working as a parks maintenance worker at Monroe City but I am also a Certified Nurses Aid. I am just starting my sophomore year at Snow College and plan to major in nursing.

In my spare time I love to go camping, fishing, and dirt bike riding. Any chance I get, I spend time outdoors. I love Fishlake and all it has to offer and I love to travel!
The thing that gets me excited about the Pando Photographic Survey is the chance to work in the mountains all week and be part of making history with my family who are also volunteering!

Tiesha Smith, Photographer

Tiesha Smith, Photographer

My name is Tiesha Smith and I’m very outgoing, loud and proud. I am employed by Hyrum Smith's Wood, where we harvest trees for firewood. In my spare time, I like to spend time with my friends and family riding four wheelers or sitting by the campfire exchanging stories. I also love working with cattle. I’ve lived in Sigurd, Utah my whole life. I may be a small-town girl, but that has never stopped me. I started my education at Snow College, Richfield last fall.

The Pando Photographic Survey caught my eye, because it seemed like a good way to learn and experience different things.

Kaylee Carlson, Photographer

Kaylee Carlson, Photographer

I am Kaylee A Carlson from Salina, Utah. I currently work at Petal Lane in Richfield, Utah, where we do picture framing and laser images. I go to Richfield high where I will be a senior next year and plan on graduating
early. For my career, I am looking into going into something in the medical field. I have passed the EMT class and plan on taking the national exam to become certified. I am also interested in doing floriculture and photography. In my spare time I go fishing, play with my dog, and hang out with friends and family. I play soccer in school and out of school whenever I can!

I’m excited to be participating in the Pando Photographic Survey and am looking forward to learning more about photography and about the amazing trees we will be photographing. Thank you for the chance of being part of this great experience!

Carson Utley, Photographer

Carson Utley, Photographer

Hi, I am Carson Utley from Richfield, Utah. I am currently working a part-time job at Papa Murphy's where my boss says I am one of his most reliable employees. I help out as a cashier, as well as cleaning the store and preparing pizzas and other food. In my spare time, I enjoy physical activities such as running and have been on the Richfield High Cross-Country team for the past three years. Running on a team has taught me a lot about teamwork.

I am currently a Senior at Richfield High School and I’m also taking concurrent enrollment classes through Snow College, including a Natural Resources class taught by Ryan Thalman, who told me about the Pando Photographic Survey. It sounded interesting, so I decided to take part. The thing that gets me most excited about the Survey is the opportunity to be a part of a historic project and learn more about different occupations in the field.

Kyden Saner, Photographer

Kyden Saner, Photographer

My name is Kyden Saner, I'm from Nephi Utah. I'm going to school at Snow college and will be majoring in Natural Resources. During the summer I'm working under the college as a natural resource field technician. In my spare time I love fishing, watching movies, and hanging out with friends. I'm excited about the Pando Photographic Survey because I think it will turn out great and I can't wait to see the finished product!

Brady Gordon, Photographer

Brady Gordon, Photographer

My name is Brady and I am becoming a certified EMT and I am already a certified EMR. I am from Richfield and really enjoy the Fishlake National Forest. I will be attending Snow College and getting my Associates in Natural Resources. I'm really excited to be taking part in the survey and look forward to learning more about the Pando.

Nathan Lindsay, Technology Integrator

Nathan Lindsay, Technology Integrator

I am Nathan Lindsay from Sandy, Utah. I'm a Digital Cinema major at Utah Valley University (UVU) finishing up my last semester for my bachelors. I enjoy video editing and all things digital video. In my spare time I enjoy watching movies and building computers. I am excited to help with the Pando Photographic survey because I am interested in learning about 360-degree cameras, and the digital systems that will be included to edit and house the photos in post.

John Shattuck, Photographer

John Shattuck, Photographer

John Shattuck grew up in San Francisco and has lived for many years in Tucson, Arizona. Since black-and-white darkroom days, he has been a landscape and travel photographer who loves getting out in nature. Whether in the high sierras or and a tropical island, his insatiable curiosity made him a natural for the Pando Survey. For years he developed and ran a supportive housing facility in Phoenix and as travel begins to reopen, he conducts National Park and other tours in the southwest and California.

April Anderton, Photographer

April Anderton, Photographer

I have been a registered nurse for 25 years. I am currently an Assistant Professor at Snow College for the nursing program! I love being outdoors and I love the Fishlake area. The Pando amazes me. I also love photography. I am so excited to volunteer for the Pando project.

JD Anderton, Photography Assistant

JD Anderton, Photography Assistant

I am a 13 year old eighth grader at South Sevier Middle School. I love everything outdoors. Hunting camping fishing and mostly riding my dirt bike. I am excited to volunteer for the Pando project with my Mom. I love Fishlake.

Jason Dilworth, Photographer

Jason Dilworth, Photographer

I'm Jason Dilworth, a design educator working in western New York. I'm interested in ecology, natural history, and preserving open wild lands.

Made Possible via the Support of

Snow College’s Natural Resources Program  is a field-based program that works closely with local  companies to give students real world experience through projects, trainings, and certifications in the different types of natural resources.

Snow College is the fiscal sponsor for the Pando Photographic Survey and students from the college will assist with the initial land survey shoot and production of the photographic survey.

Lensrentals is the largest online rental provider for photography, videography, and lighting equipment and accessories in the United States shipping gear to customers in all 50 states and also provides in-person pickups and returns to local customers.

Lensrentals is supporting the Pando Photographic Survey by providing cameras, discounts on needed equipment and assisting with the promotion of the project.

EJF Philanthropies provides support to nonprofit organizations working to solve important challenges, by addressing underlying systemic causes and allocating resources to have a multiplier effect.

EJF Philanthropies provided a generous grant for student citizen scientists to take part in the survey, create the Pando Survey website and virtual tour as well as administrative support and strategy for this year’s slate of programs.

About Us

Friends of Pando is a not-for-profit organization operating under fiscal sponsorship of Snow College via in kind donations.

To learn more about how you can support our work, visit the About Us Page. 

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