1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
1) Develop data-driven approaches in the production of ecological site descriptions for New Mexico and the Western U.S.;. 2)Improve technologies for monitoring and assessing rangelands, and. 3)Evaluate historic, current, and new restoration practices for public and private rangeland.
1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Obj. 1 is shared by the Natural Resource Conservation Service where we methodically and systematically collect and interpret data required to develop ecological site descriptions. These ESDs are used to create landscape scale maps of regional rangelands that are then used to scientifically evaluate past conservation practices at management scales. Obj. 2 is shared by the Bureau of Land Management. We are identifying indicators of land health suitable for management scale application. These indicators will be incorporated into the BLM Assess, Inventory and Monitoring (AIM) strategy and evaluated for their effectiveness in quantifying current status of western public rangelands in the southwest. Obj. 3 is shared by several U.S. agencies where we are evaluating large landscape-scale restoration treatments in a quantitative scientific manner. Specifically, we will scientifically evaluate BLM's "Restore NM" program where large tracts of public rangeland have been treated with herbicides for shrub control. We will provide BLM with a science based evaluation of these conservation treatments and site-based recommendations for future practices.
This project continues long-term collaborations with faculty and students at New Mexico State University. These collaborations are now primarily conducted at research locations across the western U.S. Objective 1 research occurs primarily in Montana, Arizona, and New Mexico. Technical users in the development of ecological site descriptions across the western U.S. are being resolved. Objective 2 research has requested adjustments to monitoring and assessment protocols utilized by the BLM over millions of acres of rangeland from New Mexico to Alaska. Objective 3 research has led to the BLM adopting a "management by hypothesis" approach for much of the 5.5 million acres of public lands administered in south central and southwestern NM. We have developed a new approach for conducting research at large, management-relevant scales. Publications from these efforts are in development.