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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Quantifying and Predicting Impacts and Benefits of Conservation on Grazing Lands

Location: Great Basin Rangelands Research

Project Number: 2060-13610-001-10
Project Type: Reimbursable

Start Date: Sep 07, 2012
End Date: May 30, 2015

Objective:
Principal focus of the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) effort is to produce national and regional assessments of environmental benefits/impacts of conservation programs to support policy decision and program implementation grazing lands by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). CEAP research team will conduct cooperative research and implementation activities to assess impacts of conservation in rangeland and pasture systems across the United States; Assess National soil loss on rangelands; and Assess benefits/impacts of conservation in western rangeland watersheds using RHEM, APEX, and AGWA-SWAT hydrologic models.

Approach:
Conduct rainfall simulation studies to assess impacts on invasive species (cheatgrass and pinyon and juniper species) on soil loss and rangeland health to enhance the Rangeland Hydrology and Erosion Model (RHEN). Develop a relational database from public sources (i.e., USGS, NRCS, EPA, BLM, USFS, NASA, and NOAA). This relational database will then be used to extend experimental data being collected by ARS to evaluate and improve the RHEM, Soil Water Assessment Tool (SWAT), and the Agricultural Policy/Environmental eXtender (APEX) models abilities to quantify the impact of conservation practices. The validated models will then be applied to estimate the impact of conservation practices on water quality, soil quality, sustainability of rangeland ecosystems, and wildlife habitat in regional and national assessments in partnership with the NRCS. ARS Agrees to: 1) Provide leadership and coordination of the overall USDA Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP). 2) Assist the Natural Resources Conservation Service and its partners with the development of the CEAP rangeland component. 3) Initiate collection of vegetation and hydrologic data for use in defining the impact of conservation practices on surface and ground water interaction for plant communities within the Great Basin. The data will be used to validate USDA-ARS rangeland models such as ALMANAC, RHEM, KINEROS, APEX and SWAT models. 4) Provide the necessary equipment to define plant communities’ delineations for use by the CEAP rangeland models. 5) Will assist in the development of an integrated relational database for use in assessing the status and condition of western ecosystems as part of the newly initiated CEAP rangeland component.

Last Modified: 11/28/2014
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