Implementing AIM-based monitoring for natural resource management

TitleImplementing AIM-based monitoring for natural resource management
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsJames D.K., McCord S, Kachergis E, Herrick JE
Conference Name68th Annual Meeting of the Society for Range Management
Date Published02/2015
PublisherSociiety for Range Management
Conference LocationSacramento, CA
ARIS Log Number321937

Successful monitoring programs are built on clearly-defined objectives, thorough planning, and organized implementation. However, natural resource management decisions need to be made at many different organizational levels and scales – from local to national. Developing separate monitoring programs to address each of these levels can be an inefficient and costly approach. We present the monitoring process model that is used for design and implementation of Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Assessment, Inventory, and Monitoring (AIM) monitoring projects. The AIM program provides a framework for collecting monitoring data which can be used many times for many objectives (e.g., land health assessments, Sage-grouse [Centrocercus urophasianus] habitat monitoring, grazing management). This framework places an emphasis on designing and implementing robust monitoring programs. While coordinated monitoring across scales is not always possible, the basic AIM principles (standardized core indicators and methods, statistically-valid sample designs, effective data management, and thorough documentation of the monitoring process) facilitate the use of monitoring data to answer the original objectives and allow for merging of monitoring data between efforts to meet additional objectives. The AIM monitoring implementation framework breaks the development and implementation of monitoring down into a series of achievable, iterative and documentable steps. These steps include: developing management and monitoring objectives; defining the monitoring area, stratification approach, and reporting requirements; selecting indicators and methods; developing data management and quality assurance/control procedures; establishing monitoring locations and collecting and evaluating monitoring data; and analyzing and interpreting monitoring results. Further, we discuss the various roles and skills needed for implementing a monitoring program. We illustrate the implementation steps and roles with examples from AIM projects in northern California and southern Idaho designed to inform land health assessments and evaluations of Sage-grouse habitat. Finally, we showcase tools, databases, and best practices available to assist in implementing AIM monitoring.