2013 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/impacts of conservation programs to support policy decision and program implementation grazing lands by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). CEAP research team will conduct cooperative research and implementation activities on restoration of sagebrush steppe and pinyon-juniper woodlands communities in the Great Basin; Assess National soil loss on rangelands; and Assess benefits/impacts of conservation in western rangeland watersheds using the AGWA-SWAT and APEX models.
1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Conduct rainfall simulation studies to assess impacts on invasive species (cheatgrass and pinyon and juniper species) on soil loss and rangeland health to enhance the Rangeland Hydrology and Erosion Model (RHEN). 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 extend experimental data being collected by ARS to evaluate and improve the RHEM, Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), and the Agricultural Policy/Environmental eXtender (APEX) models abilities to quantify the impact of conservation practices. The validated models 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.
The objective is to provide quantitative information and analytical tools that can be used to evaluate the impact of selected grazingland conservation practices on natural resource values. The funding for this project began on 6/1/2012. Significant progress has been made in coordination with other involved ARS locations in Reno, Nevada, and Boise, Idaho, on developing a dynamic erosion model that will allow for process representation on fire-impacted rangeland sites. The model has been modified to allow for dynamic intra-storm tracking of soil surface changes within the timescale of rainfall events, and initial parameter estimation equations have been developed. The model will help facilitate the assessment of conservation practice impacts on western rangelands under a broader set of site characteristics than previously possible. Part of the funding was placed into a Specific Cooperative Agreement with the University of Arizona in order to meet project goals that cannot be met with current ARS staff. Timelines have been developed and followed. This project contributes to in-house parent project Objective 2, "Develop decision tools including a rangeland specific hydrology and erosion model for improved planning and evaluation of rangeland management practices".