Society for Range Management AIM Symposium

srm_2015_blackDuring the February 2015 annual meeting of the Society for Range Management in Sacramento, California, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) held a symposium about the Assessment, Inventory, and Monitoring (AIM) framework called Monitoring for Adaptive Management: Implementing the BLM AIM Strategy. The full day of presentations covered topics from the underpinning concepts of AIM to the integration of AIM with remote sensing technologies to the practical applications of several AIM programs and projects that have already been operating for multiple years. Presenters spoke about the particulars of their AIM work and how they see it informing their local management decisions. The following playlist contains recordings of the web broadcast of each presentation; below that are the slides that accompanied each presentation and brief summaries of their content.

Monitoring for Adaptive Management: Introduction to the BLM Assessment, Inventory, and Monitoring (AIM) Strategy

Emily Kachergis, Landscape Ecologist, BLM National Operations Center
The AIM strategy is a BLM approach to gathering data and applying it to management at multiple scales for diverse resources on federal lands. AIM is intended to inform initial management decisions and then help to adapt those to changing conditions in resources over time. AIM establishes a framework with a standard set of quantitative data-gathering techniques across the BLM for specific, major indicators of resource and landscape conditions using statistically valid sampling designs. This means that data from AIM projects and programs can be pooled and shared between offices and organizations to characterize large tracts of land.
Slides available here.

Sage-Grouse to Solar: Monitoring and Land Management Decisions

Gordon Toevs, National Monitoring Lead, BLM Washington D.C. Office
The Bureau of Land Management is held to mandates to manage for sustainable and multiple uses of public land. This means that the BLM needs to inventory what resources it manages, formulate management plans, and carry those out while monitoring the resources to inform adaptive management policies. Monitoring and management can and must integrate considerations of legal and policy requirements, the landscape and resources in question, appropriate monitoring and inventory techniques, and adaptive management in response to the findings, potentially across multiple scales.
Slides available here.

IMG_1084NRCS National Resources Inventory Rangeland Resource Assessment

Veronica Lessard, Agricultural Statistician, NRCS SSRA RID
Gene Fults, Range Management Specialist, NRCS West National Technology Support Center

The Natural Resource Conservation Service has produced a report for the state of non-federal rangelands across the United States in 2014. The report outlines the departure from the reference state for the lands with regards to biotic integrity, hydrologic function, and soil and site stability. All data were gathered under the principle of “collect once, use many times,” and have applications in areas including climate modeling, erosion mapping and prediction, and development of ecological site descriptions and state-and-transition models for vegetative communities.
Slides available here.

National Terrestrial Monitoring: BLM Rangeland Resource Assessment

Michael Sherm Karl, Rangeland Management Specialist, BLM National Operations Center
The BLM manages 204 million acres of rangelands for sustained yield and multiple use. The Rangeland Resource Assessment (RRA) covered 150 million of those acres using the same set of methods and indicators standardized in the NRCS NRI which correspond to the BLM AIM strategy. Conducting RRAs at regular intervals will allow the BLM to report on trends in the status and condition of soil and vegetation resources across these landscapes.
Slides available here.

Preliminary Results from the BLM’s Western Rivers and Streams Assessment

Scott Miller, Director, BLM/USU National Aquatic Monitoring Center
The BLM AIM strategy has been applied to monitoring riparian function and health west-wide. Some of the most important features of this are quantitative data gathering methods, statistically-valid sample designs, data acquisition and management plans, and analytical tools. Using quantitative data to define levels of departure from expected functional conditions for various indicators, riparian areas can be categorized according to departure and risk of impact to different associated resources for each of those indicators. This is a data-driven and -supported approach which applies to multiple scales.
Slides available here.

loticEvaluating Stream Conditions Using Long-Term Monitoring Data Collected by Forest Service and the BLM

Eric Archer, PIBO Project Leader, USFS
The PIBO Effectiveness Program is a large-scale stream habitat monitoring program on public lands intended to evaluate the status and trend of stream conditions and connect them to land management practices. This involves comparing managed sites to “reference” sites to try to establish what the impacts of management practices have been and what causal relationships can be found.
Slides available here.

Applying AIM in Nevada for Sage Grouse Habitat and Grazing Management

Mark Coca, Vegetation Management Specialist, BLM Nevada State Office
The BLM in Nevada is using the AIM Strategy to conduct land health evaluations with a 7-10 year cycle across the state. The data have been and will be used to inform management of sage grouse and mitigation of solar energy development. The program is a partnership with the Great Basin Institute and synthesizes both the quantitative data of AIM and the qualitative data from Interpreting Indicators of Rangeland Health. Future developments planned include data-based thresholds that can be detected and trigger management actions.
Slides available here.

Assessing the Condition of Utah BLM Perennial Streams: A Pilot of the BLM’s National Aquatic Monitoring Program

Justin Jimenez, State Office Fisheries and Riparian Program Leader, BLM Utah State Office
Condition and trend information is critical to ensure the maintenance or improvement of riparian and stream systems under the BLM’s multiple use doctrine. Historically, the BLM has lacked a quantitative, standardized monitoring program to assess the condition and trend of lotic systems at multiple spatial scales. The AIM National Aquatic Monitoring Program was able to gather unbiased quantitative data and from those derive an overall report card for Utah’s stream systems on BLM land and restoration and conservation priorities for districts in the state. This has yielded important information on landscape variability and, when coupled with remote sensing techniques in development, will be a powerful tool in making management decisions regarding oil and gas activity.
Slides available here.

alaska2Monitoring for Adaptive Management in Alaska’s Arctic

Scott Guyer, Natural Resource Specialist, BLM Alaska State Office
Tina Boucher, Program Ecologist, Alaska Natural Heritage Program

The National Petroleum Reserve — Alaska has current management mandates to develop oil and gas resources while ensuring the protection of vital subsistence resources for local communities and wildlife habitat. The BLM AIM strategy was used to characterize the landscape and categorize areas based on ecological structure and function using the core indicators and additional supplemental indicators designed for use on permafrost landscapes.
Slides available here.

Using AIM Core Indicators for Sage Grouse Habitat Management: An Example from Northern California

Dereck Wilson, Associate District Manager, BLM Northern California District
Sage grouse have a well-characterized set of habitat conditions that they favor and these can be managed for in areas where they occur. Three BLM field offices (the Alturas, Eagle Lake, and Surprise Field Offices) have coordinated an AIM program to gather data on their lands to inform sage grouse habitat management as well as grazing permit renewals, wild horses and burros, aquatic resources, and environmental safety and regulatory actions. These data have informed prioritization of certain management actions in areas where pressing needs or threats were made apparent and ongoing monitoring will increase the ability to answer management questions and guide further action.
Slides available here.

Monitoring of National Conservation Lands: Agua Fria National Monument Case Study

Paul Sitzmann, Wildlife Biologist, BLM Agua Fria National Monument
The BLM AIM strategy has been applied to inventory resource conditions within the monument boundaries. In 2012, data regarding the AIM terrestrial core indicators were gathered using the Core Methods through partnerships with The Nature Conservancy, Arizona Game & Fish Department, and others. The information derived from those have been applied to developing resource objectives related to grazing and wildlife habitat.
Slides available here.

Implementing BLM’s Assessment, Inventory, and Monitoring (AIM) Strategy on Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Kevin Miller, Science Program Administrator, BLM Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
The BLM AIM strategy has been applied to inventory resource conditions within the monument boundaries. Data on the AIM terrestrial core indicators were gathered in 2013 and 2014 to inform grazing management decisions on the monument. The data enabled land managers to determine spatially-explicit forage estimates and plant community composition, which fed back into decisions on land use planning and allotment-scale grazing. Future integration of remote sensing as well as monitoring and inventory of additional resources are planned.
Slides available here.

reclamation2Disturbance and Reclamation Monitoring for Oil and Gas Development in the White River Field Office

Zoe Miller, Range Ecologist, BLM Taos Field Office
Oil and gas development leaves areas which have been disturbed and need to be reclaimed. Setting standards for the results of reclamation are challenging, particularly when pre-disturbance data are unavailable. The AIM strategy can be applied to characterize biophysical strata within the management area to determine the natural range of variability for the stratum that a reclamation area falls on and the methods used to collect the core indicators within the AIM framework can be applied to the reclaimed area itself. This lets managers set (and evaluate) realistic and data-supported thresholds for reclamation projects.
Slides available here.

Integration of AIM with LANDFIRE for Broad Scale Vegetation Monitoring

Henry Bastian, LANDFIRE Business Manager, DOI
LANDFIRE remote sensing data products cover a wide range of services for much more than just fire management across the entirety of the United States. Incorporating the spatially-explicit, quantitative data from AIM projects and programs can be used to increase the fidelity of models that categorize and predict vegetation and other landscape features, improving the precision, accuracy, and usefulness of LANDFIRE products.
Slides available here.

Remote Sensing Characterization and Monitoring of Shrubland Components Across the Western United States

Collin Homer, Biologist, USGS
Deriving information from remote sensing data, while powerful, is not an easy task. Training models for predicting ground cover from aerial and satellite imagery require spatially-explicit field data corresponding to imagery. Once constructed, these models have significant applications for monitoring and management applications.
Slides available here.

superbatFine Scale Monitoring with Unmanned Aerial Systems

Christopher Cole, Remote Sensing Lead, BLM National Operations Center
The Bureau of Land Management has invested significantly in the use of UAS for the management of natural and cultural resources on public lands. There are ongoing efforts to use remote sensing technologies including UAS to supplement data collection at fine scales over much larger swaths of a landscape than field crews could traditionally sample. One current project is attempting to derive certain indicators via remote sensing that are also collected with the Core Methods used by the AIM strategy (e.g. bare ground).
Slides available here.

Implementing AIM-based Monitoring for Natural Resource Management

Jason Karl, Research Ecologist, USDA ARS Jornada Experimental Range
The AIM strategy is a powerful one for informing management decisions and characterizing resources, but only if the program or project is designed to take advantage of it appropriately.  There is a workflow for thinking through each step of the design process that takes into account the local capabilities and needs and continuously re-evaluates earlier decisions using later decisions to refine them. The major steps for a monitoring program are: defining the monitoring needs, designing the monitoring, implementing the monitoring, maintaining the monitoring, and taking long-term monitoring into account.
Slides available here.

Monitoring_design_flowchartHow You Can Support Landscape Monitoring: From Collaborative Design to Data Sharing

Sarah Lamagna, Monitoring Ecologist, BLM National Operations Center
The lines defining ownership and management boundaries are artificial and do not reflect the actual distribution of natural resources (particularly mobile ones like sage grouse) which makes collaboration between different offices, agencies, and organizations important. The AIM strategy provides a framework that makes sharing quantitative and statistically-valid data between these various entities relatively simple and increases the power of the inferences made from those data. Collaboration can take place in the design and data collection stages of a project or program and not just when the field work has finished. The BLM has an enterprise database for collecting and serving all compliant AIM data called TerrADat (the Terrestrial AIM Database).
Slides available here.

Leave a Reply