Restoration Assessment & Monitoring Program for the Southwest (RAMPS)

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The Restoration Assessment and Monitoring Program for the Southwest (RAMPS) seeks to assist U.S. Department of the Interior and other land management agencies in developing successful restoration strategies for dryland ecosystems of the southwestern United States. Invasive species, fire, urban expansion, and other disturbances have degraded southwestern ecosystems. In water-limited regions, restoration can be difficult and costly. Managers are also hindered by the lack of available information to help them develop effective strategies for reestablishing perennial vegetation and stabilizing soils. To meet the needs of managers, RAMPS will become a hub for the information, science, and tools needed to successfully restore degraded drylands.

Launched in June 2016, RAMPS was developed to assist U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and other land management agencies develop successful restoration strategies for the water-limited ecosystems of the Southwest. RAMPS is funded by DOI and composed of scientists and managers from multiple USGS Science Centers, DOI management agencies, and universities.

Close-up of dried, cracked soil with small plants trying to survive in this soil.
Rangelands of the desert Southwest can get degraded condition and lack perennial vegetation, which can lead to exposed soil and erosion. RAMPS is working to mitigate degradation by increasing productivity and ecosystem function of rangelands. (Credit: Molly McCormick, USGS. Public domain.)

Why is RAMPS Needed?

The Restoration Assessment and Monitoring Program for the Southwest (RAMPS) seeks to assist U.S. Department of the Interior and other land management agencies in developing successful restoration strategies for dryland ecosystems of the southwestern United States. Due to the spread of invasive species, wildfire, historic overgrazing, heavy recreation use, drought, and increasing temperatures, many areas of the Southwest are in a degraded condition. Degradation or decreased land productivity means that much of the Southwest is no longer meeting its potential to produce goods and services and cannot rebound from continued stressors. Recovery from disturbance represents a substantial challenge to agencies that manage large tracts of land in the Southwest. Despite the demand for restoration and rehabilitation, little information is available to help managers effectively reestablish native perennial vegetation and stabilize soils, especially given changing climate and disturbance regimes. In order to meet this management need, RAMPS will become a hub for the information, science, and tools needed to successfully restore degraded drylands.

What does RAMPS do?

RAMPS is an inter-disciplinary network of scientists, land managers, and practitioners coordinated at the Southwest Biological Science Center that strengthens restoration strategies and outcomes on DOI lands.

The objectives of RAMPS are to:

  • Synthesize restoration outcome information and conduct cost-benefit analysis of restoration treatments.
  • Identify pressing restoration research needs of DOI and other stakeholders.
  • Develop restoration monitoring frameworks and standards of success.
  • Create decision-support tools to inform when, where, and how to restore.
  • Provide research and support of native plant materials to increase establishment and persistence of plants at restoration sites.
  • Provide outreach to guide effective restoration conducted by land managers and restoration practitioners.
Scientist sitting with three other people in a ponderosa pine system discussing seed collection methods
RAMPS scientist training a local seed collection crew on how to collect tissue samples for DNA analysis. (Credit: Molly McCormick, USGS. Public domain.)

 

 

 

 

RAMPS scientist meeting with two land managers in arid shrubland
RAMPS scientist meeting with two land managers in arid shrubland. (Credit: Mike Duniway, USGS, Southwest Biological Science Center. Public domain.)