Understanding the structure and composition of landscapes can empower agencies to effectively manage public lands for multiple uses while sustaining land health. Many landscape metrics exist, but they are not often used in public land decision-making. Our objectives were to (1) develop and (2) apply a process for identifying a core set of indicators that public land managers can use to understand landscape-level resource patterns on and around public lands. We first developed a process for identifying indicators that are grounded in policy, feasible to quantify using existing data and resources, and useful for managers. We surveyed landscape monitoring efforts by other agencies, gathered science and agency input on monitoring goals, and quantified the prevalence of potential indicators in agency land health standards to identify five landscape indicators: amount, distribution, patch size, structural connectivity, and diversity of vegetation types. We then conducted pilot applications in four bureau of land management (BLM) field offices in Arizona, California, and Colorado to refine procedures for quantifying the indicators and assess the utility of the indicators for managers. Results highlighted the dominance of upland and the limited extent of riparian/wetland vegetation communities, moderate connectivity of priority vegetation patches, and lower diversity of native vegetation types on BLM compared to non-BLM lands. Agency staff can use the indicators to inform the development of quantitative resource management objectives in land use plans, evaluate progress in meeting those objectives, quantify potential impacts of proposed actions, and as a foundation for an all-lands approach to landscape-level management across public lands.
|Title||Identifying policy-relevant indicators for assessing landscape vegetation patterns to inform planning and management on multiple use public lands|
|Authors||Sarah K. Carter, Lucy Burris, Chris Domschke, Steven L Garman, Travis Haby, Benjamin R Harms, Emily Kachergis, S. E. Litschert, Kevin Miller|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Environmental Management|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Fort Collins Science Center|