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ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Range Management Research » Research » Research Project #445196

Research Project: Climate Mitigation Outreach and Education

Location: Range Management Research

Project Number: 3050-12610-001-050-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2023
End Date: Sep 30, 2027

Phase 1: 1. Build relationships with NRCS leadership to host locally relevant climate mitigation conversations. 2. Provide information to increase NRCS climate literacy on climate-smart practices. 3. Evaluate information gathered in 1&2 (above) to direct phase 2 and 3 activities of this project. 4. Evaluate changes in climate literacy derived from the Climate Mitigation Conversations. 5. Share findings with NRCS leadership and through the Climate Hub network. Phase 2: 1. Identify and prioritize decision-support information and tools to increase adoption of climate-smart mitigation practices in agriculture and forestry. 2. Create a web-based clearinghouse with climate mitigation information relevant to implementation of NRCS conservation practices with climate mitigation benefits. 3. Develop technical guide material and a mitigation guide process for NRCS field staff and partners, relevant at local and state levels, and focused on conservation practices of greatest interest for climate mitigation. 4. Help NRCS planners and partners understand the science of common conservation practices, their potential to contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation. Phase 3: 1. Identify major existing and emerging NRCS mitigation practices, known benefits, uncertainties, and information gaps. 2. Build topical teams to conduct regional syntheses on available science on the applicability, benefits, and risks of the mitigation practices. Note: practices may be similar across regions, but we will clarify when and where benefits and uncertainties may vary. 3. Use topical teams to identify research needs and ongoing research to address major uncertainties and gaps in knowledge on key existing or emerging mitigation practices. 4. Develop and lead collaborative research based on topical team findings. 5. Integrate this knowledge as it becomes available into regional syntheses. Incorporate regional syntheses into mitigation technical guides and into mitigation climate conversations and other materials as it becomes available.

Phase 1: Mitigation conversations: These conversations will enhance climate literacy for NRCS staff and partners, offer a listening environment to gather questions and feedback, and foster discussion of how to accelerate the implementation of climate-smart practices. Hub staff will work with NRCS climate points of contact, Regional and State leaders, and Regional Hub NRCS co-leads to develop locally focused Climate Mitigation Conversations, assessing information regarding participant characteristics, climate, carbon, and GHG knowledge, and perceived challenges to implementing climate mitigation practices so that the Climate Mitigations Conversations effectively provide relevant information and resources. Phase 2: Decision-support: The development of a curated suite of decision support tools and technical guides will be informed by relevant state/territory and sector level information gathered from the Phase 1 engagements with NRCS leadership and field staff in the state-level Climate Mitigation Conversations. These engagements, and other sources, will help prioritize which conservation practices (e.g., examples from the NRCS Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry [CSAF] Mitigation Activities List) to develop technical guides. In Phase 2, we will identify what specific types of information will be included as relevant to guide mitigation decisions in each state/territory. In some cases, specific tools and technical information may be relevant across several states, depending on the information available. Phase 3: Evaluating practices: Evaluating Practices: Mitigation Fellows integrating science innovations into climate mitigation outreach and education. While the two efforts above rely upon the best available science, there is still considerable uncertainty in the GHG mitigation potential of specific climate-smart agriculture and forestry practices in specific regions. This uncertainty is an area of active research and the scientific understanding, especially on a regional to local basis, is growing rapidly. However, the information is being generated by different research units and universities, across different practices, and needs to be synthesized and summarized at a regional scale with key assumptions to make it usable and actionable. Therefore, we propose to support 3 Mitigation Fellows to build topical teams around a small set of specific common practices (e.g., cover crops, reduced and no-till management, nutrient management, grazing management, forest stand improvement, and other relevant conservation practices) in collaboration with USDA Agricultural Research Service and Forest Service to synthesize regional GHG mitigation information linked with NRCS conservation practice standards and evaluate practice potential by region. These syntheses and regional summaries will be incorporated into the mitigation technical guides, mitigation climate conversations, and other materials as available. Ultimately, this information could be integrated into and advance the suite of COMET tools.