|Photo of burning ponderosa pine forest with grassy understory.|
A Sense of Place: A Place-Based Approach to Science for Land Management
In its role as the scientific resource and advisor for Department of the Interior land management agencies, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is fostering a place-based approach that collocates USGS researchers onsite and long-term with public land managers. One of them, USGS scientist Craig D. Allen, is collocated at Bandelier National Monument, a unit of the National Park Service. Dr. Allen is director of the Fort Collins Science Center's Jemez Mountains Field Station, which is based at Bandelier. As a place-based scientist, Dr. Allen is responsible for proposing, conducting, arranging, overseeing, facilitating, and communicating about the needed local research and monitoring. He is also helping to develop a place-based science program at the nearby Valles Caldera National Preserve.
Applied historical ecology is the use of historical knowledge in the management of ecosystems. Historical perspectives increase our understanding of the dynamic nature of landscapes and provide a frame of reference for assessing modern patterns and processes. Historical timeframes range from decades to millennia. As Aldo Leopold (1941) observed, "A science of land health needs, first of all, a base datum of normality, a picture of how healthy land maintains itself as an organism."
A primary component of a place-based approach to science on public lands is integrated information over time. The links below take you to three examples of work that Dr. Craig Allen is conducting in Bandelier National Monument and the adjacent Jemez and Sangre de Cristo Mountains. In Fire History and Ecology, Dr.
Natural resource managers entrusted with the stewardship of our public lands have long known that decision-making related to restoring, managing, and protecting these ecosystems in a sustainable way is complex. They need relevant, up-to-date information to understand and manage specific landscapes. Much research on public wildlands, however, is conducted by scientists based out of university or urban research centers distant from the land and its local managers. Although these research efforts result in valuable findings, the information may not address site-specific management needs.