Restoration in simple terms is the act of restoring a disturbed area to an original state. Many projects within the Bureau of Land Management have been developed or are currently being developed to tackle some of the environmental issues and concerns that evolve on public lands. These projects can be as small as removing graffitti from a boulder to as large as creating a parking area, installing a foot traffic boardwalk, and planting 100´s of seedlings.
Recovery of vegetation in arid and semi-arid systems following disturbance is a dynamic process that is influenced by the intensity/area of disturbance, microsite heterogeneity, climate, and life history attributes of a plant species including seed bank dynamics. Even moderate disturbance in a desert scrub dominated site can take 60 years to reach pre-disturbance biomass and 180 years for reasonable recovery of species diversity even on non-compacted soils (Webb et al., 1983). Loss of plant cover exacerbates harsh conditions such as increased wind velocities, water loss, and increases in solar radiation. These changes affect the ecological function of the site including the ability of the soil to receive and store moisture and provide favorable conditions for the development of beneficial soil biota.
Plant recruitment even in undisturbed arid systems is slow and stochasitic. In contrast, artificial revegetation often attempts to compress the process of plant establishment into a single period, regardless of our inability to predict climatic conditions necessary to drive germination and seedling establishment. This leads to a misconception that revegetation is an instantaneous phenomenon, where plants are introduced and rapidly establish to form a permanent, static community (DePuit 1986). Plant community recoveries based on theoretical linear models of plant succession are inconsistent with the inherent complexities of natural system recovery. Discontinuous transitions and alternative stable states where plant succession often does not lead to pre-disturbance states occur more frequently, especially on drastically disturbed sites (Call and Roundy 1991, Westoby 1989). These different trajectories are often influenced by chronic edaphic changes, the introduction of alien species, and the absence of essential symbiotic microbes.
MacMahon (1987), Redente and DePuit (1988) have proposed that we can most effectively modify the initial processes of succession (i.e. migration and ecesis (plant establishment) through such practices as topsoil retention, seedbed preparation, and seeding and transplanting. These techniques alter the migration of propagules and enhance plant establishment and provide the initial environmental buffers necessary to accelerate ecological function.
- Lessen the amount of time the site remains in a disturbed state
- Provide erosion control and minimize sedimentation
- Return ecological functions to an area
- Aid in slope stability
- Help maintain biodiversity
- Provide beneficial land use of disturbed lands
- Provide low cost and low maintenance site protection
- Control invasive species that become re-established on a degraded site
- As mitigation, required by law
- To achieve visual reintegration
- Improve aesthetics
A restoration project includes three major phases. To learn more about these phases select one of the links below:
- Planning - including Project Review and Plant Material Selection
- Standard Operating Procedures
- Performance Standards - including project monitoring
- Draft Rehabilitation Matrix (pdf 100kb)- Table of landscape characteristics and rehabilitation techniques
Bishop Field Office Projects:
Below are five examples of successful restoration projects conducted by the Bishop Field Office Staff. To learn more about these projects select from the links below: