Las Cienegas Grassland Restoration

The desert grasslands found within the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area (LCNCA) include some of the rarest habitats in the American Southwest and are home to six endangered species. These grasslands have degraded over the last 100 years into mesquite woodlands due to grazing practices, fire suppression policies, and the introduction of non-native plant species. The loss of grassland has encouraged erosion, reduced watershed function, and decreased available habitat for pronghorn antelope and other species. In 2009 and 2010, BLM implemented a grassland restoration project on over 3,000 acres, out of an identified 20,000 acres of degraded grassland found within the LCNCA. The project has removed mesquite trees from the area, helping ... Show More

The desert grasslands found within the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area (LCNCA) include some of the rarest habitats in the American Southwest and are home to six endangered species. These grasslands have degraded over the last 100 years into mesquite woodlands due to grazing practices, fire suppression policies, and the introduction of non-native plant species. The loss of grassland has encouraged erosion, reduced watershed function, and decreased available habitat for pronghorn antelope and other species. In 2009 and 2010, BLM implemented a grassland restoration project on over 3,000 acres, out of an identified 20,000 acres of degraded grassland found within the LCNCA. The project has removed mesquite trees from the area, helping to restore habitat for pronghorn antelope and rare migratory and grassland birds. The project also helped to stabilize the regional watershed by increasing water infiltration and reducing erosion. The project has also provided local communities the opportunity to use the biomass generated from the thinning process.

The LCNCA is an archeologically significant site. Prior to ground disturbance, BLM completed cultural resource surveys and inventories to comply with the National Historic Preservation Act. Nearly 10,000 acres were surveyed, identifying 53 new archeological sites and an additional 378 isolated artifacts dating as far back as 3,000 B.C. The newly identified cultural sites will be entered into the State of Arizona Cultural Resource database operated by the Arizona State Museum. Many of the archeological sites are eligible for entry into the National Register of Historic Places. Following the flagging of all identified archeological sites, mechanical and hand removal treatments were used to remove mesquite trees from the grasslands. The restoration resulted in the removal of nearly 1,500 tons of biomass through stewardship contracts and wood permits issued to the local public and local Native American tribes for firewood collection. Permits were also issued to a local mesquite mill that utilized otherwise unmerchantable root balls, trunks, and branches to create unique, hand-crafted furniture and household items.
 
Economic Impacts of Restoration. Project funding was provided by ARRA and averaged $767,000 ($2011) per year for the two years (2009–2010). Ten primary vendors were awarded contracts and multiple other local vendors provided sub-contract work, supplies and materials purchasing, equipment rental and repair, and fuel. Project expenditures directly accounted for 4 jobs and over $330,000 in local labor income (salaries, wages, and benefits) per year. The emphasis on local contracting resulted in an additional 6 jobs in the local area and an additional $270,000 in local labor income per year generated through contractor expenditures. The project also employed a BLM youth hand crew to cut and spray mesquite on 196 acres of land. The college-aged youth were provided summer jobs working and learning about firefighting, land management, and conservation.

This case study was first published in the FY2011 DOI Economic Contributions Report and is available at  https://www.fort.usgs.gov/sites/default/files/products/publications/23407/23407.pdf Show Less

Contact(s): Catherine M Cullinane Thomas, Christopher C Huber.

Overview

Project Period: 2009-2010

Location: Arizona

Restoration Type: Grassland Restoration,Invasive weed management

Lead Agency: Bureau of Land Management (BLM)

Economic Impacts
Western States Economic Impacts (2014 dollars):

Total Project Expenditures: $1,614,000


Job-Years: Not Available

Labor Income: Not Available

Value Added: Not Available

Economic Output: Not Available

Local Economic Impacts (2014 dollars):

Local Project Expenditures: $1,404,000

Percent of Project Expenditures Spent Locally: 87%

Local Job-Years: 20.2

Local Labor Income: $1,264,000

Local Value Added: Not Available

Local Economic Output: Not Available

Map
Images
Las Cienegas - pronghorn in the native grassland.jpg
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