RAMPS: Restoration Assessment & Monitoring Program for the Southwest

Science Center Objects

The Restoration Assessment and Monitoring Program for the Southwest (RAMPS) seeks to assist U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and other land management agencies in developing successful techniques for improving land condition in dryland ecosystems of the southwestern United States. Invasion by non-native species, wildfire, drought, and other disturbances are growing rapidly in extent and frequency, creating novel ecosystem conditions that can outpace the knowledge base of local land managers. These growing problems often cross administrative boundaries, requiring agencies to proactively work together. In light of these challenges, managers can benefit from collaborative, innovative, and dynamic approaches to sharing information. To meet this need, RAMPS has created a hub for science-based information and tools to help managers identify effective and resource-efficient strategies to successfully restore degraded areas. 

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A figure that explains RAMPS three focal activities: research, stakeholder engagement, and decision support

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.


Stakeholder engagement
PROBLEM: The importance of knowledge sharing and collaboration is well-understood. The importance of knowledge sharing and collaboration is well-understood. However, managers and scientists are often time-limited and intentions to build partnerships suffers as a result.

SOLUTION: RAMPS projects are multi-disciplinary, collaborative, and co-created. RAMPS identifies systemic gaps in restoration knowledge and develops projects and creative solutions that create new insight using scientifically-credible research. Through these solutions, RAMPS increases skills, knowledge, and expertise needed to manage public lands across the Southwest.

EXAMPLES: Symposia and meetings, peer-to-peer knowledge sharing, facilitation and collaboration, training and education

PROBLEM: Several obstacles prevent land managers from implementing successful land treatments, including a lack of: information on costs relative to outcomes, post-treatment monitoring data, and science-informed innovation.

SOLUTION: RAMPS uses state-of-the-art scientific analysis and tools to increase the efficacy of land treatments across waterlimited ecosystems and finds innovative approaches to mitigate large disturbances. Through these solutions, RAMPS ensures progress in planning and implementing projects, and provides guidance and support for monitoring and adaptive management.

EXAMPLES: Data synthesis and integration, cost-benefit analysis, site re-visits, experimentation, energy development and reclamation best management practices, drought regeneration niche modeling


Decision support
PROBLEM: Scientific advancements can be difficult for land managers to access and incorporate into their project planning. 

SOLUTION: RAMPS provides decision support via tools, protocols, and science delivery portals. This support distills scientific findings into readily accessible information on when, where, and how to restore. Through these solutions, RAMPS helps bridge the science-land management gap.

EXAMPLES: Land enhancement information portal, decision-support tools, newsletters and social media, information briefs, guidance on restoration techniques, and monitoring protocols

A group of land managers gather at a restoration site inside of a desert wash.

A group of land managers from the Hopi and Navajo Nations gather in a desert wash on the Hopi Nation where effective erosion-control structures were built using simple techniques. The group was part of a program named "Building Tribal Resiliency Through Native Seeds" and funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The program gathered tribal professionals led by USGS Restoration Assessment and Monitoring Program for the Southwest (RAMPS), Navajo Nation Natural Heritage Program's Dine Native Plant Program, and Tolani Lake Enterprises. The program was a series of workshops designed to build capacity within tribal staff who manage natural resources.

(Credit: Molly McCormick, USGS. Public domain.)