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MANAGING AND RESTORING UPLAND RIPARIAN MEADOWS IN THE CENTRAL GREAT BASIN
JEWETT, D. G., J. C. CHAMBERS, W. B. TROWBRIDGE, D. GERMANASKI, AND G. S. BAKER. MANAGING AND RESTORING UPLAND RIPARIAN MEADOWS IN THE CENTRAL GREAT BASIN. Presented at 2006 Workshop on Collaborative Watershed Management and Research in the Great Basin, Reno, NV, November 28 - 30, 2006.
To inform the public.
Riparian meadow ecosystems in upland watersheds are of local and regional importance in the Great Basin. Covering only 1-3% of the total land area, these ecosystems contain a disproportionally large percentage of the region's biodiversity. Stream incision, due to natural and anthropogenic disturbances, is a major threat to these sensitive ecosystems. Meadow responses to stream incision vary, but generally include a lowering of the water table. Riparian vegetation requiring saturated soils or shallow water tables is then eliminated in favor of drier vegetation communities and valuable habitat is lost. The USDA Forest Service’s Great Basin Ecosystem Management Program has partnered with the U.S. EPA's Ecosystem Restoration and Risk Management Research Program to provide scientifically defensible methods for resource managers to manage, rehabilitate, or restore these sensitive, highly-valued ecosystems. A multidisciplinary research team of scientists from government and academia has been working to better understand the relation between geomorphology, hydrology, and vegetation patterns in upland riparian meadow systems in central Nevada. Work to date includes mapping riparian corridor/meadow distribution, identifying geomorphic and hydrologic controls on meadow formation and on plant species composition and distribution, determining basin sensitivity to stream incision, characterizing levels of stream entrenchment and meadow degradation, prioritizing degradation and restoration potential, and evaluating the success of restoration alternatives. Each component of this study has provided valuable information regarding meadow response to stream incision. However, it is the multidisciplinary, collaborative approach used in this project that is key to understanding and integrating all aspects of this complex problem which in turn is essential to developing successful management and restoration strategies and to better directing available resources.