Seward Peninsula, Nulato Hills, Kotzabue Lowlands Rapid Ecological 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 and Alaska.
The goal of the REAs is to characterize 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 ecoregional assessments into management actions and decisions. The BLM requested the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to provide peer review for technical and scientific accuracy.
BLM provided specific criteria for delineating the geographic extent of REAs: the level III ecoregion delineation of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation and all 5P thP-level Hydrologic Units (HUCs) that intersect the ecoregion boundary. The resulting SNK ecoregion is shown in Figure 1. Including the buffer, it is approximately 60,000 milesP 2 Pin size. BLM manages 43% of the ecoregion; native corporation lands comprise approximately 15% of the ecoregion.
The basis of the assessment work in an REA is to answer management questions. A total of 57 management questions were assessed. Most management questions fall into these general categories:
- Where is it? (e.g., where are conservation elements?)
- Where does it coincide with other features? (e.g., where do conservation elements coincide with change agents?)
- Where and how might the conservation elements be affected by change agents, either now or in the foreseeable future?