2010 Annual Report
1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Principal focus of the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) effort is to produce national and regional assessments of environmental benefits of conservation programs to support policy decision and program implementation on crop and grazing lands by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Develop a relational database (Hydrologic Unit Model of the United States: HUMUS) from ARS historical watershed data and data from other public sources (i.e., USGS, NRCS, EPA, BLM, USFS, NASA, and NOAA). This relational database will then be used to evaluate and improve the ARS Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) model. The validated SWAT model will then be applied to estimate the impact of conservation practices on water quality, soil quality, sustainability of rangeland ecosystems, and wildlife habitat in regional and national assessments in partnership with the NRCS. Documents SCA with U of Nevada-Reno. Formerly 5325-11220-005-06S (4/09).
The primary purpose of the project is to develop the scientific foundation for the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) by documenting what is known and what is not known about the environmental interaction effects of conservation practices on rangelands hydrologic and plant growth processes. This project was initiated 4 months ago. The focus for the first year will be to initiate the development of an experimental watershed in central Nevada to quantify the hydrologic impact of removing invading pinyon and juniper trees from a Wyoming sagebrush ecological site. To date, a weather station, 2 spring flow gages, 28 ground water observation wells, and numerous soil moisture monitoring stations have been established to quantify the change in the water budget. Equipment has been purchased and research will be initiated next month to quantify canopy interception and water saving that occur when large invading evergreen trees are replaced with native grasses and shrubs. Data from this experiment will be used to validate and improve the Rangeland Hydrology Erosion Model and the Soil Water Assessment Tool and will provide benchmark information for the USDA Conservation Effects Assessment Project.
The work is focused on quantifying the effects of conservation practices applied to Great Basin rangelands on the following environmental outcomes: water availability, wildlife habitat, forage availability, and fuel reductions. The University PI interacts weekly with the ARS PI where they jointly review project plans. Additional details for the research can be found in the report for the parent project 5325-11220-006-00D integrated invasive species control, revegetation, and assessment of Great Basin rangelands.
National Program: Pasture, Forage and Range Land Systems (NP #215)
Component 1: Rangeland Management Systems to Enhance Environment and Economic Viability
Problem Statement A: Need for economically viable rangeland management practices, germplasm, technologies and strategies to conserve and enhance rangeland ecosystems.