Jornada Helps BLM to Answer Land Management Questions

Network News Fall 2004, Vol. 17 No. 2
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Jornada Helps BLM to Answer Land Management Questions

A unique collaboration between researchers from the Jornada Basin LTER, the USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) personnel in tackling ecological problems in the western United States is attracting the attention of policy makers.

In June 2004, the BLM director, Dr. Kathleen Clarke, invited Jornada researchers and collaborating local BLM staff to the Bureau’s Washington, D.C. headquarters to brief BLM staff, who were developing new national assessment strategies, on their collaborative activities.

BLM oversees about 105 million hectares of land in 12 western states of the USA. Increasingly, these states are interested in carrying out comprehensive assessments of the health of the nation’s public deserts, grasslands, shrublands, and woodlands. Questions that engage them include how standards for public lands health can be identified, how deviations from this standard can be measured and interpreted, and how millions of hectares of land can be examined efficiently.

In response, BLM sought scientific guidance to translate the policies resulting from this renewed interest in ecological questions into practice. The collaboration has resulted in several direct applications of Jornada LTER scientific findings, such as state-and-transition models describing nonlinear vegetation responses to disturbance on particular soils (described in Bestelmeyer et al., 2003; 2004), process-based indicators that allow managers to infer the nature of vegetation change based on snapshot or short-duration monitoring (Pyke et al., 2002), and remote-sensing approaches that link state-and-transition models and indicators as well as simulation models to broad-scale patterns (Peters and Herrick, 2001).

For more information, please contact Jornada researchers, Brandon Bestelmeyer (, Kris Havstad (, or Jeff Herrick (