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John Stewart

Beargrass, a plant of many roles, is focus of new report

Report finds that disturbances are shifting within beargrass habitat

PORTLAND, Ore. November 19, 2012. Beargrass is an ecologically, culturally, and economically important plant in the Western United States and, for the first time, landowners, managers, and harvesters now have a comprehensive report about the species.The report, Natural and Cultural History of Beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax), published by the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station, identifies critical knowledge gaps and areas for future research. It also documents how changes in disturbance, including fire, may affect the species across its range.“Beargrass is emblematic of a web of natural and cultural diversity in the West,” said Susan Stevens Hummel, a research forester at the station and lead author of the report. “This means that organisms and processes—like people, plants, and pollinators—are interrelated.”

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John Stewart

Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative

The Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative encompasses portions of five states: Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas, as well as a substantial portion of Northern Mexico. It is topographically complex and includes three deserts (Mojave, Sonoran and Chihuahuan), grass-lands and valley bottoms, and isolated mountain ranges in the southern portion of the Landscape Conservation Cooperative. The richness of the topography leads to equally diverse species composition; the area supports habitat for many native plants, fish and wildlife species, including many endemic species that are extremely susceptible to climate change. The Steering Committee for the Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative was selected at a meeting in Phoenix, Ariz., on April 27-28, 2011. The Steering Committee Meeting was attended by 60 partners within the Desert LCC Region. The meeting attendees identified and selected the Steering Committee members from among their respective organizations. The Steering Committee is currently represented by six representatives from non-governmental organizations, five from State agencies, representatives from five tribes, nine representatives from Federal agencies, and one international organization. In addition, a Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative Science Sub-Committee has been established to identify and prioritize preliminary science needs based on stakeholder input, and an assessment of available science to address those needs. This year, Reclamation is planning to post a Funding Opportunity Announcement to target projects that meet the shared science needs identified by stakeholders within the Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative. To read more about the Desert Landscape Conservation Cooperative or to see those serving on the two committees, please visit: www.usbr.gov/WaterSMART/lcc.html.

Original linkOriginal author: John
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John Stewart

Little Change in Drought Over 60 Years

A new paper out in the current issue of Nature finds little evidence to support claims that drought has increased globally over the past 60 years. The authors write:

Drought is expected to increase in frequency and severity in the future as a result of climate change, mainly as a consequence of decreases in regional precipitation but also because of increasing evaporation driven by global warming. Previous assessments of historic changes in drought over the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries indicate that this may already be happening globally. In particular, calculations of the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) show a decrease in moisture globally since the 1970s with a commensurate increase in the area in drought that is attributed, in part, to global warming. The simplicity of the PDSI, which is calculated from a simple water-balance model forced by monthly precipitation and temperature data, makes it an attractive tool in large-scale drought assessments, but may give biased results in the context of climate change6. Here we show that the previously reported increase in global drought is overestimated because the PDSI uses a simplified model of potential evaporation that responds only to changes in temperature and thus responds incorrectly to global warming in recent decades. More realistic calculations, based on the underlying physical principles that take into account changes in available energy, humidity and wind speed, suggest that there has been little change in drought over the past 60 years.

What does this mean?

Original linkOriginal author: Roger

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John Stewart

Little Change in Drought Over 60 Years

A new paper out in the current issue of Nature finds little evidence to support claims that drought has increased globally over the past 60 years. The authors write:

Drought is expected to increase in frequency and severity in the future as a result of climate change, mainly as a consequence of decreases in regional precipitation but also because of increasing evaporation driven by global warming. Previous assessments of historic changes in drought over the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries indicate that this may already be happening globally. In particular, calculations of the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) show a decrease in moisture globally since the 1970s with a commensurate increase in the area in drought that is attributed, in part, to global warming. The simplicity of the PDSI, which is calculated from a simple water-balance model forced by monthly precipitation and temperature data, makes it an attractive tool in large-scale drought assessments, but may give biased results in the context of climate change6. Here we show that the previously reported increase in global drought is overestimated because the PDSI uses a simplified model of potential evaporation that responds only to changes in temperature and thus responds incorrectly to global warming in recent decades. More realistic calculations, based on the underlying physical principles that take into account changes in available energy, humidity and wind speed, suggest that there has been little change in drought over the past 60 years.

What does this mean?

Original linkOriginal author: Roger
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John Stewart

UFWDA and USFS sign a MOU

A positive step forward has been achieved in on-going efforts to build relationships with public land managers by United Four Wheel Drive Associations (UFWDA) and was negotiated by Carla Boucher, the UFWDA legal advocate, who stated:

The recently signed Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) between the US Forest Service (USFS) and UFWDA indicates strongly the desire of both the Forest Service and UFWDA to express our common support for four wheel drive motor vehicle use recreationally on lands managed by the US Forest Service.

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