Rapidly assessing landscape-scale ecological conditions and restoration priorities across the Kane and Two Mile ranches.
Aumack, Ethan*,1, 1 Grand Canyon Trust, Flagstaff, AZ
ABSTRACT- In 2005, the Grand Canyon Trust and The Conservation Fund jointly purchased the Kane and Two Mile ranches, whose livestock grazing permits extend across nearly 850,000 acres north of the Grand Canyon. We are currently working with land managers and a diverse array of stakeholders to strategically identify and implement restoration projects across a wide array of ecosystem types, and to manage livestock in a manner consistent with restoration and maintenance of ecological integrity. Recognizing the need to better understand current conditions across the ranches, and to establish a baseline from which the effects of livestock management and restoration activities may be measured, we initiated a landscape-scale ecological assessment of the ranches in the spring of 2005. To assess grassland, shrubland, woodland, and forest understory conditions across the ranches, we used a stratified random sample design to conduct vegetation and soil surveys at approximately 650 plot locations. To assess forest overstory conditions across the project area, we coordinated a volunteer-centered data collection effort at more than 750 sites. Collaborating with the Forest Ecosystem Restoration Analysis project at NAU, we are combining overstory data collected with Landsat ETM and digital orthophoto quads to develop continuous, high resolution maps describing forest composition and structure, wildlife habitat, and watersheds conditions across the Kaibab Plateau. Synthesis of field data will help the Trust to develop a scientifically rigorous strategy for adaptively managing livestock and pursuing restoration goals. Assessment methodologies, preliminary results of data synthesis, and implications for livestock management and restoration strategies across the ranches will be presented.
Key words: rapid ecological assessment, strategic restoration planning, aridland ecosystems
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