Analysis and Assessment of Impacts on Biodiversity: Investigating Alternative Futures for the California Mojave Desert
DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF DEFENSE RESEARCH AND ENGINEERING ARLINGTON VA STRATEGIC ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
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The Mojave Desert is affected by many of the same environmental stresses that affect the rest of the United States. A major difference, however, is that the Mojave Desert has lower ecological recoverability compared with more mesic ecosystems. The fragility of the landscape means that even light stress may cause irreversible damage. The principal anthropogenic stressors for the region include development residential, industrial, commercial, infrastructure, agriculture, grazing, exotic species, vehicle based recreation, water redirection, mining, and noise. This report describes a project conducted by the Desert Research Institute, Oregon State University, Utah State University, the U.S. Forest Service and the Environmental Protection Agency, to evaluate the potential impacts of future patterns of land use on biodiversity and related environmental concerns within the Mojave Desert ecoregion of California in 1997 the base year and in 2020. While planning efforts and related analyses have been conducted within individual parcels of land or for specific land ownership, these activities were not being addressed within the region as a whole. Biodiversity analysis at this larger spatial scale is considered to be essential context for understanding the consequences of differing human actions as well as management plans at specific locations within the area. Alternative future patterns of land use Alternative Futures for the California Mojave Desert were designed, modeled, and subsequently assessed with respect to their impact on the habitats of selected species over the region. The results show stakeholders and other interested parties not only how the various futures might impact species but also provide landholders with a tool with which to negotiate impacts of land uses on biodiversity.