GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 262-1
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


DAVIS, Scott, Bureau of Land Management, P O Box 25047, Denver Federal Center, Denver, CO 80225,

Soils are a living ecosystem with diversity far greater than above ground systems. The BLM is re-engineering its science strategy to be more responsive to the agency and public needs, including addressing climate change, frequency of droughts, wildfires, and invasive species that are impacting our western landscapes. We look at soil quality indicators in addressing land use planning goals and objectives for assessing and measuring our resource conditions. These steps are followed by monitoring to determine if mitigation and adaptations are needed for plan conformance in assessing BLM's land health standards.

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS) and the National Cooperative Soil Survey's data is used for planning BLM’s activities, addressing land health to report the status, condition, trends, and spatial distribution of it's renewable resources. The USGS Geochemical and Mineralogical Maps for Soils observe the spatial distribution of chemical elements and minerals in soils in the U. S. to compare with any future changes that may occur-including maps and statistics on carbon samples. The Rapid Assessment of U.S. Soil Carbon, by the USDA-NRCS also estimates carbon amounts and distribution for U.S. soils under various land covers, to document future soil carbon change related to land use changes, practices, and climate change.

Soil quality and soil health are tied to BLM’s land health standards, with the appropriate soil quality indicators related to the soil survey and ecological site descriptions and state transition models. A soil’s resilience is the capacity to recover functions after disturbance (fire, floods, compactive forces). Soil quality and soil quality indicators measures a soil functions and can be a chemical, physical or biological property of soil that is sensitive to disturbance and represents performance of an ecosystem’s function. Indicators are dynamic soil properties to evaluate how well soil functions since soil function often cannot be directly measured.

Hence, measuring soil quality involves identifying soil properties that respond to management, are correlated with environmental outcomes, and can be easily observed. Indicators are used with practices that manipulate vegetation, or after fire, disturbance, i.e. treatments, seeding, planting.