Environmental Management

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 62–83 | Cite as

Great Basin Land Management Planning Using Ecological Modeling

  • Tara A. Forbis
  • Louis Provencher
  • Leonardo Frid
  • Gary Medlyn
Article

Abstract

This report describes a land management modeling effort that analyzed potential impacts of proposed actions under an updated Bureau of Land Management Resource Management Plan that will guide management for 20 years on 4.6 million hectares in the Great Basin ecoregion of the United States. State-and-transition models that included vegetation data, fire histories, and many parameters (i.e., rates of succession, fire return intervals, outcomes of management actions, and invasion rates of native and nonnative invasive species) were developed through workshops with scientific experts and range management specialists. Alternative restoration scenarios included continuation of current management, full fire suppression, wildfire use in designated fire use zones, wildfire use in resilient vegetation types only, restoration with a tenfold budget increase, no restoration treatments, and no livestock grazing. Under all the scenarios, cover of vegetation states with native perennial understory declined and was replaced by tree-invaded and weed-dominated states. The greatest differences among alternative management scenarios resulted from the use of fire as a tool to maintain native understory. Among restoration scenarios, only the scenario assuming a tenfold budget increase had a more desirable outcome than the current management scenario. Removal of livestock alone had little effect on vegetation resilience. Rather, active restoration was required. The predictive power of the model was limited by current understanding of Great Basin vegetation dynamics and data needs including statistically valid monitoring of restoration treatments, invasiveness and invasibility, and fire histories. The authors suggest that such computer models can be useful tools for systematic analysis of potential impacts in land use planning. However, for a modeling effort to be productive, the management situation must be conducive to open communication among land management agencies and partner entities, including nonprofit organizations.

Keywords

Community dynamics Federal lands Grazing management Great Basin Prescribed fire Rangeland Resilience Thresholds Wildfire 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Percentage cover field data were collected by Lee Turner and Sydney Van Ausdal. Input to and analysis of the models came from the ENLC Science Committee including Gary Brackley, John Hiatt, Bill Morrill, Sherm Swanson, Robin Tausch, Jim Young, Barry Perryman, and Doug Ramsey; the BLM Ely District staff including Jeff Brower, Jared Bybee, Cody Coombs, Shane DeForest, Gene Drais, Bill Dunn, Troy Grooms, Gene Kolkman, Jim Perkins, Gary Medlyn, Ann Perkins, John Longinetti, Mark Lowrie, Chris Mayer, Jody Nartz, and Mike Perkins; and The Nature Conservancy of Nevada’s (TNC’s) Fire Learning Network including Ayn Schlisky and Doug Zollner. Miles Hemstrom and Jim Merzenich provided technical assistance with VDDT modeling. This project was supported by BLM assistance agreement number FAA030004, Task Order 3, and TNC’s Fire Learning Network (National Fire Plan award Restoring Fire Adapted Ecosystems). Peter Weisberg, David Roberts, Alan de Queiroz, Janet Bair, James Perkins, and an anonymous reviewer provided helpful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tara A. Forbis
    • 1
  • Louis Provencher
    • 2
  • Leonardo Frid
    • 3
  • Gary Medlyn
    • 4
  1. 1.The Nature Conservancy of NevadaElyUSA
  2. 2.The Nature Conservancy of NevadaRenoUSA
  3. 3.ESSA TechnologiesVancouverCanada
  4. 4.Bureau of Land Management, Ely Field OfficeElyUSA

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