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ARS Home » Plains Area » Las Cruces, New Mexico » Range Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #400062

Research Project: Science and Technologies for the Sustainable Management of Western Rangeland Systems

Location: Range Management Research

Title: Rangeland Resources

item REEVES, MATT - Forest Service (FS)
item McCord, Sarah
item CLAASSEN, ROGER - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS, USDA)
item KACHERGIS, EMILY - Bureau Of Land Management
item KREBS, MICHAEL - Consultant

Submitted to: Forest Service General Technical Reports
Publication Type: Government Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/1/2023
Publication Date: 7/25/2023
Citation: Reeves, M., McCord, S.E., Claassen, R., Kachergis, E., Krebs, M. 2023. Rangeland Resources. Forest Service General Technical Reports. 8-1 - 8-33. Chapter 8.

Interpretive Summary: Key Findings · Rangeland health is relatively unchanged since the 2010 RPA Assessment. The greatest overall impacts to rangeland health have been observed in the RPA Pacific Coast Region and in the southwestern part of the United States due to increases in invasive annual grasses and drought. · Rangeland production is increasing in the northern parts of the rangeland extent and decreasing in the south, with corresponding changes in bare ground. Interannual variability in productivity is increasing in most areas at the same time, with the largest changes since 2000 having occurred in the southwestern United States. Current production trends are projected to intensify in the future and become more variable on an interannual basis. · Rangelands have been steadily converted to developed and agricultural land uses. Urbanization is projected to be responsible for most of the future reduction in rangeland extent, especially in the Pacific Coast Region.

Technical Abstract: Rangelands are areas where the natural vegetation is comprised principally of grasses, forbs, grass-like plants, and shrubs that are suitable for browsing or grazing, but the presence of herbivory is not a prerequisite for rangeland classification. In this chapter, we evaluate the nature of rangeland resources across the conterminous United States and provide projections of future rangeland resources. One of the main changes since the 2010 Resources Planning Act (RPA) Assessment has been the dramatic increase in computational power and remotely sensed data describing the biophysical properties of the earth’s surface, allowing us to characterize trends in rangeland vegetation not previously possible (Reeves et al. 2014b). Increased computational capacity also offers an improved ability to evaluate the role and effect of climate change on the potential future of rangelands. We begin this chapter by evaluating recent trends in rangeland extent, health, vegetation ground cover, aboveground net primary production (NPP), and livestock numbers. We then examine the potential impacts of climate change on U.S. rangelands by using the RPA scenarios and climate models to project future changes in rangeland phenology, vegetation productivity, and land use.