Journal Highlight: Rangelands | December 2017 Issue – Article Preview

Enhancing Wind Erosion Monitoring and Assessment for U.S. Rangelands
Wind erosion is a major resource concern for rangeland managers because it can impact soil health, ecosystem structure and function, hydrologic processes, agricultural production, and air quality. Despite its significance, little is known about which landscapes are eroding, by how much, and when. The National Wind Erosion Research Network was established in 2014 to develop tools for monitoring and assessing wind erosion and dust emissions across the United States. The Network, currently consisting of 13 sites, creates opportunities to enhance existing rangeland soil, vegetation, and air quality monitoring programs. Decision-support tools developed by the Network will improve the prediction and management of wind erosion across rangeland ecosystems.
This paper is open access and can be read or downloaded free.
Testing a Remote Sensing-Based Interactive System for Monitoring Grazed Conservation Lands
Many public agencies and land trusts that manage grazing lands are interested in using remote sensing technologies to make their monitoring programs more efficient but lack the expertise to do so. In California annual grasslands, using remote sensing is especially challenging because the dominant vegetation is not detectable by standard technologies at a key time of year for monitoring. The Nature Conservancy of California (TNC) has developed RDMapper, an easy-to-use web-based tool that uses satellite-based productivity estimates, rainfall records, and compliance history to identify management units at risk of being below the required level of residual dry matter (RDM). TNC successfully used RDMapper in 2015 and 2016 to predict compliance across approximately 47,000 hectares of conservation easement grasslands, while reducing monitoring costs by 42%. We also applied RDMapper on six non-TNC properties (approximately 5,700 hectares) owned by two public agencies. We correctly predicted RDM compliance on 74% of the management units and found the method to be successful overall, with several challenges mainly relating to meeting RDMapper’s data requirements. Our study illuminated potential benefits, hurdles, and best practices for landowners interested in using RDMapper to increase monitoring efficiency, and made recommendations to improve it. Adding RDMapper to conventional monitoring toolkits could be game-changing for public lands management agencies that currently struggle to manage vast grasslands.

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