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BLM>More BLM Programs>Landscape Approach>Rapid Ecoregional Assessments>Northwestern Plains
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Decision Point
Decision Point, the confluence of the Missouri and Marias Rivers, Montana

Northwestern Plains
Rapid Ecoregional Assessment (REA)

Status | Location and Setting Management Questions | Conservation Elements | Change Agents | Data, Maps, and Models | Memos and Reports

REA Status 
The Northwestern Plains (NWP)  REA was initiated in September 2010. It has been completed and peer reviewed and is now available to the public. The Memos and Reports section provide access to the REA data for this ecoregion.

Location and Setting
The Northwestern Plains REA stretches across Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota with extensions into Nebraska. The REA includes two ecoregions: the Northwestern Great Plains and the Northwestern Glaciated Plains. The Northwestern Glaciated Plains, which runs north and southeast along the northern boundary of the Northwestern Great Plains ecoregion, is included in this REA for the assessment. The resulting REA has an area of approximately 206,000 square miles,  includes all or portions of 13 BLM offices.

States in the Northwestern Plains:
North Dakota
South Dakota

Contact: Project Manager
for more information

  Location Map

Northwestern Plains REA Map

Management Questions 
The management questions for the Northwestern Plains REA were finalized in January 2011 in the Northwestern Plains Task 1 Final Memorandum. They seek information related to:

  • Terrestrial biotic resources
  • Aquatic/Riparian Biotic Resources
  • Landscape Species/Species Richness 
  • Change Agents
  • Invasive or Undesired Non-native Species, Insect, and Disease
  • Urban, Agricultural, Industrial, and Water Development
  • Climate Change
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    Conservation Elements
    Conservation elements are resources of conservation concern within an ecoregion. This REA will assess the current status and forecast the future condition of these conservation elements:

    • "Coarse-filter" ecological systems, which represent characteristic vegetation assemblages occurring within the ecoregion;
    • "Fine-filter" plant species conservation elements, which represent a dominant plant species characteristic of each of the four largest geographical ecological system coarse-filters in the Northwestern Plains Ecoregion;
    • Landscape-species conservation elements, in which selected species represent a range of important attributes characterizing the environment in which they occur.

    A full list and description of conservation elements can be found in the Phase 1 Task 1 Memo.

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    Change Agents
    Change agents are disturbances on the landscape that can influence ecosystem health. They can have natural causes, such as wildfire; human causes, such as energy development; or result from the interaction of both, such as climate change. A key purpose of this REA is to understand the influences of significant, widespread change agents on the natural resources (represented by the conservation elements discussed above) of the Northwestern Plains.
    This REA will examine the potential effects of the following change agents. A more complete discussion of change agents is presented in the Task 1 Final Memorandum.

    Change Agents to Be Addressed in the  Northwestern Plains REA

    • Wildland Fire
    • Development: Urban, Agricultural, Industrial, and Water Development
    • Invasive Species: Terrestrial and Aquatic
    • Climate Change
    • Insect Outbreak and Diseases

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    Data, Maps, and Models
    Geospatial data, maps, and models used in and produced by the REAs will be made available to the public upon final completion of each individual assessment. In some instances, data may be released in phases for an REA to expedite public access to particular data sets. To learn more about REA data products and determine which REAs have available data, go to the REA Data Portal.

    Memos and Reports
    For each REA, there is a series of memos which are supplemental documents to the final report.  Memos document the major tasks and decision points made during the assessments and provide pertinent background information necessary to understand the justification and methods used during the assessment.  As memos and the final report are completed, they can be downloaded through the table below.

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    Northwestern Plains (NWP) REA Memos and Reports


    Document Link

    Management questions, conservation elements, and change agentsTask 1 Final Memorandum (PDF)
    Datasets for analysisTask 2 Final Memorandum (PDF)
    Analytical models and toolsTask 3 Final Memorandum (PDF)
    REA work plan 
    Preliminary findings for review 

    REA final report is in multiple PDF files

    Refer to the Table of Contents in Section 1 for
    detailed descriptions of each Section and Appendix.

    Data, maps, and models available through the Data Portal.

    NWP Final Report & Appendix A (Mgmt Questions)
    NWP Appendix B (Vegetative Systems)
    NWP Appendix C (Development Analysis)
    NWP Appendix C (Invasive Species, Insect Outbreak)
    NWP Appendix C (Climate Change)
    NWP Appendix D (Coarse Filter)
    NWP Appendix E (1-3 Fine Filter, various)
    NWP Appendix E (4-10 Fine Filter, various)
    NWP Appendix F,G, H - (Quality, Intactness, Vulerability Index)