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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: INTEGRATED INVASIVE SPECIES CONTROL, REVEGETATION, AND ASSESSMENT OF GREAT BASIN RANGELANDS Title: Techniques for assessing the environmental outcomes of conservation practices applied to rangeland watersheds

Authors
item Weltz, Mark
item Jolley, Leonard -
item Goodrich, David
item Boykin, Ken -
item Nearing, Mark
item Stone, Jeffry
item Guertin, Phil -
item Hernandez, Mariano -
item Spaeth, Ken -
item Pierson, Frederick
item Morris, Christopher
item Kepner, Bill -

Submitted to: Journal of Soil and Water Conservation
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 7, 2011
Publication Date: September 15, 2011
Citation: Weltz, M.A., Jolley, L., Goodrich, D., Boykin, K., Nearing, M., Stone, J., Guertin, P., Hernandez, M., Spaeth, K., Pierson, F., Morris, C., Kepner, B. 2011. Techniques for assessing the environmental outcomes of conservation practices applied to rangeland watersheds. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation. 66(5):154A-162A.

Interpretive Summary: Grazing lands are the most dominate land cover type in the United States with approximately 311.7 Mha being defined as rangelands. Approximately 53% of the Nation’s rangelands are owned and managed by the private sector while the Federal government manages approximately 43% of the Nation’s rangelands. The remaining rangelands are owned and managed by tribal, state and local governments. Information on the type, extent, and spatial location of land degradation on rangelands is needed to inform policy and management decisions on rangelands; however, there is no systematic or coordinated national dataset on status or condition of rangelands for the United States to make informed policy decisions. This report focuses on the status of hydrologic tools to assess the impact and benefits of conservation practices at the watershed scale using the capability of the AGWA interface and the SWAT river basin and KINEROS2 models. The initial rangeland assessment focuses on watersheds in the intermountain west. The initial analysis utilized a 5 year return precipitation event to assess the benefit of conservation practices such as brush control, stream buffers, prescribed fire and wildfires, and habitat improvement. Grazing Land CEAP has successfully developed hillslope scale soil erosion models for water and wind erosion and developed approaches and meth¬odologies to produce scientifically credible estimates of environmental benefits/impacts of con¬servation on grazing lands at watershed scale. Project findings and results were used to report progress on the environmental benefits of USDA conservation programs to Congress, aid discussions on conservation policy development, guide conservation program implementation, and ultimately, help farmers and ranchers make informed conservation choices based on sound science.

Technical Abstract: Grazing lands are the most dominate land cover type in the United States with approximately 311.7 Mha being defined as rangelands. Approximately 53% of the Nation’s rangelands are owned and managed by the private sector while the Federal government manages approximately 43% of the Nation’s rangelands. The remaining rangelands are owned and managed by tribal, state and local governments. Information on the type, extent, and spatial location of land degradation on rangelands is needed to inform policy and management decisions on rangelands; however, there is no systematic or coordinated national dataset on status or condition of rangelands for the United States to make informed policy decisions. This report focuses on the status of hydrologic tools to assess the impact and benefits of conservation practices at the watershed scale using the capability of the AGWA interface and the SWAT river basin and KINEROS2 models. The initial rangeland assessment focuses on watersheds in the intermountain west. The initial analysis utilized a 5 year return precipitation event to assess the benefit of conservation practices such as brush control, stream buffers, prescribed fire and wildfires, and habitat improvement. Grazing Land CEAP has successfully developed hillslope scale soil erosion models for water and wind erosion that estimate that brush control and reseeding in Arizona can reduce peak flow in the channels after conversion to grassland by 72 to 98 percent, with similar reductions in average annual runoff and sediment yield. Properly place stream buffers in southwest Idaho can reduce sediment yield by 57%. Project findings and results were used to report progress on the environmental benefits of USDA conservation programs to Congress.

Last Modified: 11/20/2014
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