Applications

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. Allen describes the various ways of learning how fire occurred before and since the advent of Euro-American settlement, and how that information applies to land and fire management decisions today. Applied Historical Ecology examines ecosystem dynamics in historical timeframes extending “from decades to millennia” and the context this knowledge provides for our current ecological understanding. Finally, Forest and Woodland Restoration in the Southwest addresses how these ecosystems should be “put back” into their original condition, based on what we have learned from both fire and ecological histories.

Datasets from all of these efforts overlap and complement one another, building an ecological knowledge base that is complex and interdisciplinary. Such integrated knowledge—based on ecological and fire histories, continued long-term monitoring, and ongoing research—allows management adaptations that take into consideration the interactions of some of the myriad processes and components of dynamic living systems.

The modest science program based out of the USGS Fort Collins Science Center, Jemez Mountains Field Station, located at Bandelier National Monument, provides one example of on-site science support of land management. The science program of this field station has made significant contributions to adaptive land management in the local landscape, particularly improving the scientific basis for management and interpretation at Bandelier and on adjoining lands. Scientific research and adaptive management offer promising means for implementing a modern land ethic. Still, technocratic approaches to land management cannot eliminate the need for human intuition, wisdom, and humility in decision-making, based on familiarity, respect, and appreciation for a place. Long-term intimacy with particular landscapes is essential to learning enough about the diverse verities and uncertainties of a place to truly manage land wisely. Place-focused approaches are fostered when land managers and affiliated researchers are provided career options that allow them to become knowledgeable about and attached to the landscapes in which they work. Ultimately, sustainable land management depends upon integrated, long-term relationships between people and their landscapes—development of a societal sense of place (Allen 1994).

Photo of scenic landscape at Bandelier National Monument.
Photo of scenic landscape at Bandelier National Monument.