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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Research Project: Evaluation of the Effects of Rangeland Conditions on the Sources and Transport of Dissolved Solids Within the Upper Colorado River Basin

Location: Great Basin Rangelands Research

Project Number: 2060-13610-001-09-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 4, 2012
End Date: Mar 31, 2014

Principal focus of the Project (Salt Mitigation) effort is to produce national and regional synthesis assessments of environmental benefits/impacts of conservation programs to support policy decision and program implementation grazing lands by the Department of Interior and Agriculture. This study will improve the understanding of the sources and transport of dissolved solids in rangelands in the Upper Colorado River Basin (UCRB), generating knowledge which will generally be transferrable to other semi-arid and arid domestic and international rangelands. Relationships between the health of rangelands (i.e. state within an Ecological Site) and transport potential of salts may reveal where conservation practices can be applied to cost-effectively reduce dissolved-solids yields delivered to UCRB streams. This would ultimately benefit agricultural producers, wildlife and water users by lowering concentrations in the Colorado River and its tributaries and allow the United States to meet treaty obligations with Mexico. In addition to the knowledge gained, several of the datasets compiled in this study could be incorporated into ARS and USGS’s models of dissolved-solids sources and transport in streams of the UCRB. This could improve the uncertainty of the water quality models and provide enhanced capability of running prediction scenarios that evaluate the cost-effectiveness of different land and water management options on dissolved solids in UCRB streams.

The primary objective of phase 1 is to compile a body of easily accessible knowledge learned from past studies on the sources and transport (groundwater as related to surface water, conservation practices, and wind erosion) of dissolved solids to streams in rangelands around the world. This phase will be conducted by USDA staff. The Water Quality Information Center (WQIC) at the National Agricultural Library (NAL) will develop a bibliography. The primary product will be an annotated bibliography, similar to that produced by the USDA Conservation Effects Assessment Project, which is available at: HTML and PDF versions will be placed on the WQIC Web site for easy access. An online dynamic version will also be developed. The dynamic version generates citations from real-time searches of the AGRICOLA database, so the bibliography is always current. Along with AGRICOLA, a number of commercial databases such as Scopus, CAB Abstracts and BIOSIS will be searched to identify relevant documents. No date limits will be applied to the searches unless the volume of relevant documents is unmanageably large. The document will be < 500 pages and search criteria will be cross-linked with NRCS conservation practices numbers where possible (i.e. prescribed grazing is 528). The primary objective of the second phase is to synthesize the body of knowledge assembled in phase 1. While the scope of the literature search is world-wide, the synthesis will focus on dissolved-solids sources and transport processes relevant in the UCRB. The cross-linking of NRCS conservation practices to impacts documented by the literature will provide a direct benefit to land management agencies by providing them with an easy lookup table of benefits by practice and associated literature references when proposing potential salt mitigation projects. This phase will be conducted by USDA staff. The primary product is a draft written analysis that will later be included in a jointly authored publication through USGS.

Last Modified: 10/19/2017
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