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New Technologies to Reclaim Arid Lands User's Manual

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Approximately 70 percent of all U.S. military training lands are located in arid and semi-arid areas. Training activities in such areas frequently adversely affect vegetation, damaging plants and reducing the resilience of vegetation to recover once disturbed. Fugitive dust resulting from a loss of vegetation creates additional problems for human health, increasing accidents due to decreased visibility, and increasing maintenance costs for roads, vehicles, and equipment. Under conventional technologies to mitigate these impacts, it is estimated that up to 35 percent of revegetation projects in arid areas will fail due to unpredictable natural environmental conditions, such as drought, and reclamation techniques that were inadequate to restore vegetative cover in a timely and cost-effective manner. New reclamation and restoration techniques are needed in desert ranges to help mitigate the adverse effects of military training and other activities to arid-land environments. In 1999, a cooperative effort between the U.S. Department of Energy DOE, the U.S. Department of Defense DoD, and selected university scientists was undertaken to focus on mitigating military impacts in arid lands. As arid lands are impacted due to DoD and DOE activities, biological and soil resources are gradually lost and the habitat is altered. A conceptual model of that change in habitat quality is described for varying levels of disturbance in the Mojave Desert. As the habitat quality degrades and more biological and physical resources are lost from training areas, greater costs are required to return the land to sustainable levels. The purpose of this manual is to assist land managers in recognizing thresholds associated with habitat degradation and provide reclamation planning and techniques that can reduce the costs of mitigation for these impacted lands to ensure sustainable use of these lands.

Subject Categories:

  • Ecology
  • Geography
  • Environmental Health and Safety

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