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)
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)
This user-friendly field guide can help people of all skill levels identify 50 native and exotic perennial grasses, plus several annual species. This guide grew out of citizen science involvement tracking grassland health at the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area in southeastern Arizona. Some species illustrated here occur across the West; others are local specialties.Download file (8 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)
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)
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