Colorado Plateau Rapid Ecoregional Assessment

Sandra A. Bryce, James R. Strittholt, Brendan C. Ward, Dominique M. Bachelet
Posted on: 7/18/2022 - Updated on: 11/07/2023

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Rapid Ecoregional Assessments (REAs) are a product of the evolution of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) toward a landscape approach to land and resource management. Using the landscape approach, the BLM hopes to integrate available scientific data from BLM field offices, other federal and state agencies, and public stakeholders to develop collaborative management efforts across administrative boundaries. Regional-scale information and assessment analyses on current and future condition will be used by the BLM and its partners to assist with land use planning, developing best-management practices, authorizing uses, and establishing conservation and restoration priorities. REAs are informational tools, not decision documents.

The regional scope of the Colorado Plateau REA and the assessment of its numerous conservation elements and their interactions with change agents produced a massive volume of results that can only be summarized within the constraints of a report of reasonable length. Major highlights of the results appear in the body of the report and appendices provide more detailed information on methods and models.

Several key aspects of the REAs highlight their utility to the BLM:

  • Management Questions: Management questions are the foundation and catalyst for the REAs because they determine the scope of data requirements and analyses.
  • Ecoregional Scale: Region-wide analyses explaining the association of native species, aquatic and terrestrial resources, and environmental change agents provide the BLM with another scale of consideration beyond the field office level.
  • Data Compilation: One of the more important components of the REA process is data compilation in topical areas that are regionally significant.
  • Assessing Current Condition: The evaluation of the current status of regionally-significant biotic elements and abiotic factors was a key aspect of the REA. Eight characteristic vegetation communities of the Colorado Plateau represented the coarse-filter component.
  • Projecting Future Condition: REAs also evaluate the potential of change agents—including wildland fire, invasive species, development, and climate change—to affect ecoregion condition.
  • Application to Adaptive Management: REAs are timely in supporting planning, management, and mitigation strategies for impacts anticipated from rapidly-developing issues related to traditional and renewable energy development, the spread of invasive species, changing fire regimes, and climate change.


Bryce, S.A., J.R. Strittholt, B.C. Ward, and D.M. Bachelet. 2012. Colorado Plateau Rapid Ecoregional Assessment Report. Prepared for the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management, Denver, Colorado.

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The BLM is responsible for managing the nation's public lands and resources in a combination of ways which best serve the needs of the American people. The BLM balances recreational, commercial, scientific and cultural interests and strives for long-term protection of renewable and nonrenewable resources, including range, timber, minerals, recreation, watershed, fish and wildlife, wilderness and natural, scenic, scientific and cultural values.