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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Quantifying Environmental Benefits Derived from Implementing Rangeland Conservation Practices within the Great Basin

Location: Great Basin Rangelands Research

2011 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
The University of Nevada at Reno is undertaking a cooperative project with the Agricultural Research Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to document the status of knowledge regarding the effect of conservation practices applied to rangelands within the Great Basin. The primary purpose is to construct the scientific foundation for the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) by documenting what is known and what is not known about the environmental effects of conservation practices on rangelands hydrologic and plant growth processes. The work will focus on the effects of conservation practices applied to rangelands on the following environmental outcomes: water availability, water quality, soil quality, habitat, forage availability, and fuel reductions.

1b. Approach (from AD-416)
The University of Nevada, Reno will assist in synthesizing the appropriate literature to document the effect of conservation practices on five basic resource concerns; (1) water availability, (2) water quality, (3) Soil quality, (4) Net Primary Productivity, and (5) habitat/landscape fragmentation for the Great Basin. They will also assist in developing an experimental watershed(s) in central Nevada where impacts of conservation practices can be quantified at both the hillslope and watershed scales.

3. Progress Report
This project was established in support of Objective 2 of the in-house project: Devise management guidelines, technologies, and practices for conserving and restoring Great Basin rangelands. The USDA team working on the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) has developed a new process based model for assessing soil erosion rates on rangeland hillslopes. The USDA team is leading the effort to develop new protocols to assess the status of soil erosion on western rangelands. This assessment was included in the USDA Resource Conservation Act Assessment that was delivered to Congress in January 2011. In addition, the team is assisting in developing an assessment of the status of rangeland health for all privately held rangelands in association with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. This will be the first comprehensive assessment of rangelands and provide USDA with a technology to assess the benefits of conservation activities that have been funded through the USDA Farm Bill. Through these national and regional assessments it is anticipated that USDA will have the necessary information to modify its conservation programs to enhance the efficacy and efficiency and increase the cost-effectiveness of these critical programs. The team has developed 2 publications that summarize water induced soil erosion on rangelands for the Nation. This model is scheduled for release by NRCS as part of its streamlining conservation initiative for use in western field offices by NRCS. The ARS Principal Investigator has monthly teleconference with his ARS and NRCS partner’s to discuss the status of the project. The ARS, University of Nevada, Reno, and NRCS partners met four times in FY 2011 to review progress on the project and make adjustments as required to achieve milestones and obtain project goals.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 10/17/2017
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