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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Logan, Utah » Forage and Range Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #340919

Research Project: Develop Improved Plant Genetic Resources to Enhance Pasture and Rangeland Productivity in the Semiarid Regions of the Western U.S.

Location: Forage and Range Research

Title: Impacts on ecosystems, corrective restoration practices, and prospects for recovery: nine case studies in the continental United States

Author
item Jones, Thomas

Submitted to: The Rangeland Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/30/2017
Publication Date: 10/6/2017
Citation: Jones, T.A. 2017. USA restoration scenarios. The Rangeland Journal. 39:431-450.

Interpretive Summary: Restoration efforts in the USA are becoming more numerous, comprehensive, and diverse. Riparian, rangeland, wetland, estuarine, watershed, prairie, and forest examples demonstrate how a diversity of ecosystems have sustained extensive modification through inadvertent and intentional anthropogenic change. Restoration efforts have had varying degrees of success, entail many different approaches, and demonstrate that much can be learned from both restoration successes and failures.

Technical Abstract: Ecological restoration in the United States is growing in terms of the number, size, and diversity of projects. Such efforts are intended to ameliorate past environmental damage and to restore functioning ecosystems that deliver desired levels of ecosystem services. For ten current restoration scenarios across the continental United States, this paper details 1) the impacts of the original disturbance and compounding secondary issues that compel restoration, 2) the corrective practices applied to effect restoration goals, and 3) the prospects for recovery of charismatic or protected species and ecosystem services. Ecosystem-altering impacts include flood control (Kissimmee River), flood control and navigation (Atchafalaya Basin), damming for water storage (arid Southwest) or hydroelectric power (Elwha River), logging and fire suppression (longleaf pine forest), plant invasions that decrease fire-return intervals (Great Basin, Mojave Desert), nutrient and sediment loading of watersheds (Chesapeake Bay, Mississippi River delta), conversion of land to agriculture (tallgrass prairie), and a warming climate (aspen forest). Animal species targeted for recovery include the greater sage-grouse (Great Basin), the red-cockaded woodpecker (longleaf pine forest), the southwestern willow flycatcher (arid Southwest), the desert tortoise (Mojave Desert), eight salmonid fish (Elwha River), and blue crab and eastern oyster (Chesapeake Bay). Iconic woody plant species that have been diminished include big sagebrush (Great Basin), which originally was removed intentionally and is now being lost due to wildfire; longleaf pine, which was logged and continues to be lost due to wildfire resulting from a history of the suppression, and quaking aspen, which suffers from decline due to a host of biotic and abiotic factors believed to be related to climate change.