Remote sensing documentation of historic rangeland remediation treatments in southern New Mexico

TitleRemote sensing documentation of historic rangeland remediation treatments in southern New Mexico
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsRango A., Goslee S, Herrick JE, Chopping M., Havstad K, Huenneke L., Gibbens, Robert P., Beck RF, McNeely R.P.
JournalJournal of Arid Environments
Date PublishedApril 1, 2002
Accession NumberJRN00365
ARIS Log Number120278
Keywordsaerial photography, New Mexico, rangeland remediation, remote sensing, shrub removal, water spreading

The Jornada Experimental Range and the New Mexico State University Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center are fruitful areas to study the long term effects of rangeland remediation treatments which started in the 1930s. A number of diverse manipulations were completed under the direction of federal agency and university scientist, and abundant remote sensing imagery is available to assist in relocating the treatments and evaluating their success. This is particularly important because few of the treatments were maintained following the loss of scientific personnel coinciding with the start of World War II, and most records of Civilian Conservation Corps scientific work were lost with the disbanding of the agency in 1942. Aerial photography, which was systematically used to image the United States beginning in the 1930s, can be used to identify types of treatments, measure area coverage, estimate longevity, and help contour terraces, brush hwater spreaders, strips grubbed free of shrubs (despite the fact that thes strips have remained visible for 65 years), and mechanical rootplowing and seeding. Distinct positive, long-term vegetation responses could be seen in aerial photos and existing conventional records that experimental manipulation of rangelands has often been ineffective on the landscape scale because treatments are not performed over large enough contiguous area and hydrological and ecological processes overwhelm the treatments. In addition, treatments are not maintained over time, treatment evaluation periods are sometimes too short, multipurpose treatments are not used to maximize effects, and treatments are often not located in appropriate sites.