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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Remote Sensing Documentation of Historic Rangeland Remediation Treatments in Southern New Mexico

Authors
item RANGO, ALBERT
item Goslee, Sarah - JER-ARS CONTRACTOR
item HERRICK, JEFFREY
item Chopping, Mark
item HAVSTAD, KRIS
item Huenneke, Laura - NEW MEXICO STATE UNIV
item Gibbens, Robert
item Beck, Reldon - NEW MEXICO STATE UNIV
item Mcneely, Robert - NEW MEXICO STATE UNIV

Submitted to: Journal of Arid Environments
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 1, 2001
Publication Date: April 1, 2002
Citation: RANGO, A., GOSLEE, S., HERRICK, J.E., CHOPPING, M.J., HAVSTAD, K.M., HUENNEKE, L., GIBBENS, R.P., BECK, R., MCNEELY, R. REMOTE SENSING DOCUMENTATION OF HISTORIC RANGELAND REMEDIATION TREATMENTS IN SOUTHERN NEW MEXICO. JOURNAL OF ARID ENVIRONMENTS. 2002.

Interpretive Summary: Shrubs continue to encroach on the desert Southwest grasslands, and more and more useful grazing land is being degraded each year. In the past there have been many attempts to rehabilitate the former desert grassland, but because most efforts took place more than 60 years ago, many records have been lost that could improve our knowledge of useful treatments to impose. Fortunately, an independent data source, namely, aerial photography of agricultural lands nationwide was begun by USDA in 1935. We have collected and analyzed much of the historic aerial photo data for the ARS Jornada Experimental Range an the NMSU Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center in southern New Mexico. They have been used to identify type of treatment, measure aerial coverage, estimate longevity, help plan sites for new experiments, and assess the prospects for rehabilitating degraded rangeland today. These techniques are of value for students, ranch managers, and action agencies such as NRCS and BLM.

Technical Abstract: The Jornada Experimental Range and the New Mexico State University Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center are fruitful areas to study the long term effects of rangeland remediation treatments which started in the 1930s. A number of diverse manipulations were completed under the direction of federal agency and university scientist, and abundant remote sensing imagery is available to assist in relocating the treatments and evaluating their success. This is particularly important because few of the treatments were maintained following the loss of scientific personnel coinciding with the start of World War II, and most records of Civilian Conservation Corps scientific work were lost with the disbanding of the agency in 1942. Aerial photography, which was systematically used to image the United States beginning in the 1930s, can be used to identify types of treatments, measure area coverage, estimate longevity, and help contour terraces, brush hwater spreaders, strips grubbed free of shrubs (despite the fact that thes strips have remained visible for 65 years), and mechanical rootplowing and seeding. Distinct positive, long-term vegetation responses could be seen in aerial photos and existing conventional records that experimental manipulation of rangelands has often been ineffective on the landscape scale because treatments are not performed over large enough contiguous area and hydrological and ecological processes overwhelm the treatments. In addition, treatments are not maintained over time, treatment evaluation periods are sometimes too short, multipurpose treatments are not used to maximize effects, and treatments are often not located in appropriate sites.

Last Modified: 7/28/2014
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