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New USDA study shows extent of land degradation and recovery on western rangelands
Date:10/1/2010

the land remains productive by using scientific and local knowledge to establish reference conditions for different types of rangeland.

Rangelands across the western United States support productive ecosystems, and hundreds of millions of dollars are invested each year in public and private funds to manage and conserve them. Because rangelands are highly diverse, their accurate assessments depend on understanding how different types of land vary in potential for supporting productive ecosystems while limiting runoff and erosion.

"These findings will provide a new tool for addressing how to monitor the vast tracts that stretch across the western United States and ensure that they are well used and remain productive," said Edward B. Knipling, ARS administrator.

"We have gained a great deal of knowledge about the health of U.S. rangelands with this study," said NRCS Chief Dave White. "NRCS can use this knowledge to improve our policies and technical skills to better serve landowners and taxpayers."

The collected quantitative data can be used as a baseline to monitor rangeland health in future studies such as the USDA Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP). CEAP is a long-term effort designed to determine the environmental effects of conservation practices on agricultural lands. CEAP also can be used to set a course for future conservation action.


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Contact: Dennis O'Brien
dennis.obrien@ars.usda.gov
301-504-1624
United States Department of Agriculture -- Research, Education and Economics
Source:Eurekalert

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