Central Basin and Range Rapid Ecoregional Assessment
Working with agency partners, BLM is conducting rapid ecoregional assessments (REAs) covering approximately 450 million acres of public and non-public lands in ten ecoregions and combinations of ecoregions in the American West. The goal of the REAs is to identify ecological resource status, potential to change from a landscape viewpoint, and potential priority areas for conservation, restoration, and development.
REAs are intended to serve BLM’s developing Ecoregional direction that links REAs and the BLM’s Resource Management Plans and other on-the-ground decision making processes. Ecoregional direction establishes a regional roadmap for reviewing and updating Resource Management Plans, developing multi-year work for identified priority conservation, restoration and development areas, establishing Best Management Practices for authorized use, designing regional adaptation and mitigation strategies, and developing conservation land acquisitions.
While REAs produce information designed to be integrated into specific management processes they are not decision documents and stop short of integrating the findings into management actions. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) chose to retain responsibility for all aspects of integrating the assessment into management actions and decisions. The BLM asked United States Geological Survey (USGS) to provide a peer review for technical and scientific accuracy.
The basis of the assessment work in an REA is to answer management questions. A total of 62 management questions were assessed. Most management questions fall into these general categories:
- Where is it? (e.g., conservation elements, change agents, high biodiversity areas)
- Where does it coincide with other features? (e.g., conservation elements overlain with change agents)
- Where and how might the conservation elements be affected by change agents, either now or in the foreseeable future? (e.g., forecast change in ecological status based on change agents).
There are several more specific and complex management questions dealing with issues such as connectivity, renewable energy, and potential for ecological restoration. Some results of the assessments are highlighted in this summary; example management questions are treated in the report but due to space limitations, complete treatment is provided in the appendices.