This study used a long-term dataset to examine the impacts of drought on grassland conditions at Las Cienegas National Conservation Area in southeastern Arizona from 2004-2014. Changes included declines in perennial grass basal cover with patchy mortality, leaf litter increases, shrub declines and increases in non-native grass, Lehmann’s Lovegrass (Eragrostis lehmanniana). Grassland cover declined by 25-50% in years with low precipitation from January-June. Given that global climate models predict steep declines in spring rainfall, grassland managers could improve grassland resilience by monitoring rainfall and associated mortality across multiple months, including non-traditional seasons, and by establishing contingency plans for various types of drought. The dataset was developed through a partnership between The Nature Conservancy and Bureau of Land Management with monitoring assistance from stakeholders.Download file (1580KB)
The San Pedro River wet/dry mapping dataset is a community effort to track the river’s health by monitoring the persistence of surface water during the driest time of each year. It is created by recording the end points of every wet section of the San Pedro River during June each year. Maps depict the wet portion of the San Pedro River.
Every June groups of volunteers walk the entire 170 mile length of the San Pedro River and record where it is wet and where it is dry during the hottest, driest time of the year. Sixteen years’ worth of data on summertime surface flows in the San Pedro River within the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area (SPRNCA) are now available as an animation. Watch to see the changes in surface flow over time. These observations were recorded by citizen scientists through the Wet/Dry Mapping project- a collaboration between TNC and the Bureau of Land Management on this particular reach of the San Pedro River. Follow this link to see what they found from 1999 to 2015 on the approximately 50 miles of the San Pedro River that flows through the SPRNCA.
Notes about the data and animation:
1. Use the play, pause, and advance buttons at the bottom to view the animation.
2. Use the plus or minus keys to zoom in on portions of the river.
3. Survey dates varied from year to year, but have been standardized to June 29 for purposes of this animation.
4. Although the animation time scale at the bottom indicates a one year date range, the data shown is actually the annual standardized June 29th survey date. To make the scale date appear as that one point in time, click on and drag one of the time markers on top of the other.
Part of the Ecology and Society journal’s special issue on adaptive management, this paper summarizes the essential lessons learned from 15 years’ of collaboration and strong commitment from public stakeholders at Las Cienegas National Conservation Area in southeastern Arizona. The paper describes key components of a program that continues to expand and attract expertise and investment by stakeholders, including: (1) agreement on watershed health goals with measurable resource objectives; (2) gathering relevant and reliable scientific information; (3) creating mechanisms to incorporate new information into decision-making; and 4) using shared learning to improve both the process and management actions. Since 1998, this approach has proved successful for resolving challenging issues and has focused public and private investment on improving land health. Other papers in this special issue provide context and additional examples of adaptive management in practice, including an effort at the Agua Fria National Monument that is being modeled after work at Las Cienegas; all papers can be found here .Download file (1.3MB)
Riparian grasslands dominated by Sporobolus wrightii (big sacaton) are key resources for watershed function, livestock, and wildlife. The upper Cienega Creek watershed in SE Arizona is thought to harbor some of the region’s most extensive sacaton stands. This study maps the distribution of sacaton stands in the watershed, assesses their status, and tests methods for use in other valley bottoms in the region. A more detailed report is available here.Download file (3.4MB)
Riparian grasslands dominated by big sacaton (Sporobolus wrightii) once covered floodplains across the southwest, but have been reduced to some 5% of their historical extent. Sacaton stands that remain provide key resources for watershed function, wildlife, and livestock—yet may need special management to sustain these benefits. This report describes mapping methods and management recommendations that can be applied to riparian grasslands throughout the region. By examining sacaton grasslands in the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area, this project also refines methods for evaluating ecological condition, and provides managers at this site with detailed maps of both high-quality habitat and restoration needs.Download file (5.6 MB)
Documents biodiversity values for a large Sonoran Desert landscape, the Expanded Kofa Complex, including land managed by the BLM, the U.S. Army at Yuma Proving Ground, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. This report describes and maps natural communities that merit conservation focus, and provides data on species of particular concern.Download file (7.7 MB)
Presents information on the condition of riparian habitats and compares these with objectives established in BLM’s Resource Management Plan. Includes 1) an analysis of data collected between 1990 and 2006 on the condition of the NCA’s riparian forests and stream channel geomorphology, 2) an ecological state-and-transition model that describes relationships between habitat types and disturbance forces, and 3) a review of monitoring protocols with options for making monitoring more informative and efficient.
Download file (7.4 MB)
This study analyzed 15 years of data on the endangered Gila topminnow (Poeciliopsis occidentalis occidentalis) to determine the population status and trend at Las Cienegas. We also tested alternative monitoring protocol to provide managers with more timely and reliable information on topminnow populations.Download file (1.5 MB)
Jointly authored by BLM and TNC, this report summarizes the monitoring information used and decision-making process for the 2005-2006 grazing plan at Las Ciénegas National Conservation Area. The report details how BLM, with input from partners, advisory teams, and the grazing permittee, are using upland monitoring data and pasture reconnaissance to make grazing management decisions.Download file (5 MB)
The document summarizes the lessons learned from The Nature Conservancy and Sonoran Institute’s multi-year collaborative project with the Bureau of Land Management and Department of Defense at the Sonoran Desert National Monument and Goldwater Training Range.Download file (<1 MB)
Summarizes work completed to assist the Bureau of Land Management in the development and implementation of a science-based adaptive management and monitoring program to evaluate progress toward objectives established in BLM’s Resource Management Plan. Includes 1) an analysis of data collected between 1995 and 2004 on the condition and trend of the NCA’s grasslands, 2) a review of monitoring protocols, and 3) an outline of the adaptive management process implemented by BLM in 2004/2005.Download file (1 MB)
Developed for the BLM and Dept. of Defense, this report summarizes the results of The Nature Conservancy’s characterization of important biodiversity elements and the Sonoran Institute’s analysis of socioeconomic information for the Monument and surrounding environs. The data and analyses demonstrate the importance of coordinated management among the various public, private, and tribal land managers surrounding the National Monument as a mechanism for protecting the objects for which the Monument was designated.Download file (9 MB)
Prepared for the BLM, this review includes a synthesis of the scientific literature on the impacts of livestock grazing and grazing management strategies for the Sonoran Desert. Also included are reviews of plant community dynamics, biological soil crust ecology, and grazing-vegetation interaction theory as they relate to an understanding of grazing impacts and strategies.Download file (3 MB)
Documents efforts by TNC and BLM to test a model that prescribed burns can be used to improve watershed conditions and aquatic habitat conditions. Study documents pre- and post-treatment results for the response of grasslands and for populations of the threatened Gila chub (Gila intermedia). Paper presented at USFS conference, May 11-15, 2004.Download file (<1 MB)
A GIS data set depicting the results of a two-year study to delineate grasslands and evaluate their ecological condition in Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and northern Mexico. This study was completed with the assistance of resource professionals from U.S. and Mexico universities and public agencies.
This study reviews BLM’s fire management plans for Arizona, assessing the accuracy, standardization, and ecological relevance of current Phase I fire management areas. This second report documenting the results of TNC’s Arizona Grassland Assessment also makes recommendations for revisions to BLM’s fire management areas based on fire ecology and other considerations.Download file (3.5 MB)
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