DEVELOPMENT OF MODELS AND CONSERVATION PRACTICES FOR WATER QUALITY MANAGEMENT AND RESOURCE ASSESSMENTS
Location: Grassland, Soil and Water Research Laboratory
Title: The rancher's ALMANAC
Submitted to: Rangelands
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: January 31, 2011
Publication Date: April 1, 2011
Citation: Johnson, M., Finzel, J.A., Spanel, D.A., Weltz, M.A., Sanchez, H., Kiniry, J.R. 2011. The rancher's ALMANAC. Rangelands. 33(2):10-16.
Interpretive Summary: The United States’ western rangelands are a valuable national natural resource. They provide important ecological benefits, serving to store carbon in the soils, supporting a diversity of plant, animal, and fungal species, and mitigating soil loss. Their economic services are comparably important; they support a vibrant and varied livestock industry, maintain wildlife habitat, and provide recreational opportunity to hikers, birders, wildlife photographers, and off-road enthusiasts. They are also valued by the scientific community, including geologists, hydrologists, plant and animal ecologists, and soil scientists, to name a few. However, these lands face mounting pressures from urban and suburban expansion, exotic species invasions, changing fire dynamics, and increased human use. As we look to the future, we must determine the best management strategies for these lands, in order that we may maintain their sustainability for perpetuity, enjoying the resource now while maintaining it for future generations. Herein we demonstrate the applicability of a promising decision support tool to help guide us towards sustainable management decisions: the ALMANAC model.
The mathematical Agricultural Land Management Alternatives with Numerical Assessment Criteria Model (ALMANAC) model simulates short- and long-term western rangeland vegetation response to various conservation strategies. The model was chosen by the Rangeland Conservation Effects Assessment Program to assess rangeland health across the western US. Here we demonstrate the model’s accuracy as compared to NRCS Ecological Site Description data at sites in Nevada, Utah, and California. The model is free and available to the public. The USDA-ARS Grassland, Soil, and Water Research Lab at Temple, Texas (http://www.ars.usda.gov/spa/gswrl) conducts free seminars on input parameter development and ALMANAC simulation training.