Rapid Ecoregional Assessments

Eagle tail mountains wilderness, Arizona
Lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are being impacted by climate change and other environmental factors, including a variety of uses.

In response to recognizable impacts and long-term climate change, the BLM launched seven Rapid Ecoregional Assessments to improve the understanding of the existing condition of affected landscapes and how conditions may be altered by ongoing environmental changes and land use demands.

What are Rapid Ecoregional Assessments (REAs)?

These landscape evaluations are called “rapid” assessments because they incorporate existing information and are generally completed within 18 months. This timeframe is relatively “rapid” in comparison to analysis that would rely on collecting new data or performing on-the-ground research.

The Rapid Ecoregional Assessments will help to inform the BLM’s strategies and guide land use decisions being made in state and regional field offices.

The assessments examine ecological values, conditions and trends in connected areas that have similar environmental characteristics. Examples of these ecoregions include the Sonoran Desert and the Colorado Plateau.  The ecoregions under assessment range in size from 11 million acres to 91 million acres. Assessments of these larger areas provide land managers additional information and tools to use in subsequent resource planning and decision-making.

How will the REAs benefit our public lands?

Land use planning and management decisions for our public lands are made across the West. In addition, climate change is leaving its mark on the land. To adequately plan for future uses, the BLM will need to gather existing science and data to take a broader look at regions, not just small swaths of land. Rapid Ecoregional Assessments will inform the BLM’s strategies and guide land use decisions made in state and regional field offices.

This opportunity will facilitate information sharing between various agencies and staff. The data, maps and tools will help formulate coordinated, multi-agency strategies to respond effectively to climate change, wildfire and other environmental challenges.

According to the BLM, the REAs will:

  • Identify and answer important management questions
  • Document key resource values, called conservation elements, with a focus on regionally-significant land and water habitats and species of concern
  • Describe influences from four environmental change agents: climate change, wildfire, invasive species and development
  • Assess the collective effects of projected trends
  • Identify and map key opportunities for resource conservation, restoration and development
  • Identify science gaps and data needs
  • Provide a baseline to evaluate and guide future management actions

Where are REAs conducted?

Seven regions are being evaluated and all assessments are scheduled for completion in 2012:

  • Central Basin and Range
  • Mojave Basin and Range
  • Sonoran Desert
  • Northwestern Plains
  • Middle Rockies
  • Colorado Plateau
  • Alaska’s Seward Peninsula-Nulato Hills-Kotzebue Lowlands

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