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BLM and TNC Southwest Fire Learning Network Perform Rangeland Ecological Assessment

link DOWNLOAD FILE: REA Project Report

The Bureau of Land Management manages nearly 13 million acres in New Mexico—land that is valued by conservationists, outdoor recreationists, and ranchers alike. Unfortunately, a large percentage of grasslands in the southwestern U.S. are losing their value due to long-term fire exclusion, which has allowed these areas to be invaded by woody shrubs, or undergo other changes related to altered fire regime. In 2004 BLM staff in New Mexico began the process of amending their fire management plan, and as part of that process adopted the explicit, long-term goal of restoring the historical role of fire in the ecosystems they manage.

To address the scientific barriers to achieving this goal, BLM developed the Rangeland Ecological Assessment (REA) project in partnership with The Nature Conservancy. The Conservancy’s Steven Yanoff is managing this three-year undertaking, which will quantify the spatial extent and assess the ecological condition of grasslands, and identify opportunities for restoration using fire and other tools. LANDFIRE tools and data are being used in this study.