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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Reno, Nevada » Great Basin Rangelands Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #384377

Research Project: Management and Restoration of Rangeland Ecosystems

Location: Great Basin Rangelands Research

Title: The diversity of nevada rangelands

item Clements, Darin - Charlie
item Young, James
item Harmon, Daniel - Dan

Submitted to: The Progressive Rancher
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/20/2021
Publication Date: 7/8/2021
Citation: Clements, D.D., Young, J.A., Harmon, D.N. 2021. The diversity of nevada rangelands. The Progressive Rancher. 21(6):16-19.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The State of Nevada contains about 110,000 square miles of various rangeland environments. Much of this rangeland is desert. There is a tiny amount of tall timber forest along the west central border where Nevada touches the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada, but the majority of Nevada is made up of big sagebrush/bunchgrass, salt desert shrub and pinyon-juniper woodlands with warm deserts in the southern part of the state. To understand the various vegetation types you have to appreciate the structural geology and recent geological history. The majority of Nevada is in the Great Basin from which there is no drainage to the ocean. Nevada mountain ranges stand as islands of environmental potential for plant growth in a sea of aridity. Moisture for the western Great Basin comes almost entirely from the Pacific Ocean and falls during the cold winter months. As you proceed south and east, summer monsoonal moisture sources weakly contribute to the moisture regime. Just before or early in the Pleistocene, the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountain ranges began a precipitous rise that produced a near continuous western mountain barrier which intercepts moisture-laden winds from the Pacific and cast rain shadows across the western Great Basin. During the Pleistocene, slightly higher precipitation and markedly reduced evaporation with cooler temperatures combined to change the water balance of the Great Basin. The aridity of Nevada rangelands provide numerous challenges to resource managers, livestock operators and State and local governments.