A component of responsible public land management is monitoringthe environment to gauge how uses affect the ecological function of specific landscapes. The BLM Bishop Field Office has established photo monitoring points in specific bouldering areas to establish a baseline assessment of vegetation and soil conditions over time. Photography is an easy and objective way to assess long-term changes at bouldering sites on the Tableland. Photo monitoring is a valuable tool for evaluating change in vegetation, lichen, and trail proliferation over time. Photographs can also be useful for communicating with others. Good pictures can convey a message more effectively than large amounts of numerical data. Successful monitoring is based on sequential photographs, representative ecological sites, and photo alignment with previous years photo images. By comparing notes and photographs at the same location over time, managers can see what changes have occurred. Photographs and notes serve as a permanent record of each location for future reference. The manager's observations and other information are necessary to determine the causes of change in resource conditions.
This photo monitoring study began in 1998 and has continued through 2002 because of increased use and effective marketing of the Happy and Sad Boulders. Twenty-two photo points were established within the Happy, Sad, and other bouldering areas on the Tableland. The ecological study sites were chosen to represent larger use areas. Photo points included high-use vegetated areas, climber landing spots, trails, rock covered with lichens, and road closures.