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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Reducing the Impact of Wildfires in North American Deserts
2013 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
ARS, inconcert with the Society for Range Management (SRM), conducted the "Wildfires and Invasive Plants in American Deserts" symposium workshop in Reno, NV, December 9-11, 2008. The purpose of this project is to synthesize the knowledge and understanding presented at the symposium of the interactions of wildfire and invasive plants across the arid and semi-arid regions of the United States, and to apply this understanding to developing more effective land managment practices.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
The outcome from this project will be a special issue of either Journal of Rangeland and Ecology & Managment or Rangelands where ARS Scienctist will help document and publish current knowledge of how to manage western rangelands degraded by invasive species and reduce the impact of wildfires.

Funds will be used to help publish scientific findings presented at the symposium and associated training material developed for educating land managers that would be offered through the Society of Range Management Center for Professional Educational Development.


3.Progress Report:

This is the final report for this project which was terminated on August 9, 2013. The partners published six articles from the specialty conference on Wildfires and Invasive Plants in American Deserts, in the June 2009 Rangelands journal documenting current management perspectives and approaches on how to reduce the impact of invasive weeds and wildfires. In the September 2011, issue of Ecology and Range Management, the partnership documented the impacts of both invasive species and wildfires in the western United States in six peer reviewed articles. As a follow up to the conference, the ARS, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) developed and implemented a training course on development and use of Ecological Site Descriptions. Eight workshops have been held, and over 350 state and federal agency staff have been trained on use of this new technology through June of 2013. The planning committee is scoping out the possibilities to extend this work through 2015, have an additional four (4) regional workshops, and develop a web-based training course to reduce training costs.

Due to sequestration and reduction of funds in FY 2013, on-site training has been postponed until FY 2014. To provide a more efficient means of training, agency staff from the NRCS, BLM, and ARS will allocate funds to develop a series of webinars that can be viewed on demand. Although this will not completely replace the value of on-site training, it will allow the agencies a means of providing the background material to staff. In addition, contact information of technical experts will be provided to employees if they have technical questions on how to conduct Rangeland Health and/or develop and use Ecological Site Descriptions.

This agreement is related to objective 4 of the in-house project, "Develop decision support tools for USDA to assess impact of type, location and number of management practices required to meet conservation and agricultural production goals nationwide". More specifically, develop an integrated package of ground-based and remote sensing tools to quantify and assess the environmental impact of management decisions and conservation practices at hillslope and landscape scales in woodland, shrub-steppe, and desert ecosystems of the Great Basin.


Last Modified: 12/22/2014
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