BLM Science Plan

Cactus Project

Sclerocactus glaucus is a threatened cactus found in the deserts around Grand Junction near rights-of-way of new pipelines and highway expansion.  One way to mitigate the presence of this cactus is to transplant individuals to nearby suitable locations. The recommend procedure requires cutting off the smaller roots, setting it out in the open air for one to three days so the plant can “harden-off,” and then transplanting it to the new location.  Using this procedure, 50 percent of the cacti are expected to survive.  We began a study in the spring of 2003 in Rabbit Valley, using the non-threatened cactus Sclerocactus  parviflorus , comparing three different methods of transplanting cacti: 1) the above recommended procedure, 2) a method where a root ball around each cactus was maintained and the individual transplanted within two hours, resulting in 90 percent of the cacti surviving, and 3) soil removed from the roots and the individuals transplanted within two hours. We also examined whether transplanting in the summer, fall, winter, or spring or next to a nurse plant, Atriplex confertifolia, would affect survival.  Each spring and fall for the next seven years, data were taken on the number of surviving plants, diameter and height of each plant, number of new tubercules produced for the year, and number of flowers.  At present we are analyzing the data and will have a publication submitted to a scientific journal by the summer of 2011. 

Trail Monitoring

CCA and the Bureau of Land Management launched new trail monitor training tools in April of 2012. As a trail monitor, you will help keep an up-to-date condition inventory of the trails throughout McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area so we can keep them safe and usable and provide the most up-to-date information to the public. This program will help the BLM prioritize work and maintenance projects on popular trails in the NCAs.

Black Ridge Desert Bighorn Sheep Habitat Monitoring and Assessment Project

The Bureau of Land Management and the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife collaboratively work together in managing the Black Ridge desert bighorn sheep population and its habitat. Past efforts have focused on monitoring the population’s size, reproduction, survival, distribution, and demographics. Current research is now focused on deepening our understanding and expanding management capacity. In 1999, a series of wildfires occurred on the western portion of the population’s range and the burned area is currently occupied by desert bighorn sheep. This research project is exploring the long term potential of wildfire as a way to augment sheep habitat in a desert environment. We are investigating the quality, composition, and phenology of the habitat within burned and unburned areas while accounting for foraging characteristics. Resource selection models are being formed by analyzing correlations between habitat components at locations of documented use. The results from this project will provide managers with detailed recommendations for future landscape and population management. The research will also contribute in many forms to desert bighorn sheep ecology, fire ecology, range ecology, wilderness management, habitat management and invasive species ecology.

Throughout the project, there has been tremendous public support for the improved management of this herd. The cooperation and assistance of the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife and Colorado State University continues to be integral for the success of this project.

Determining the origins of the Mygatt-Moore Dinosaur Quarry deposit and its fauna

The Mygatt-Moore Quarry in the Morrison Formation of western Colorado has yielded more than 5,000 bones of seven species of dinosaurs since its discovery in 1981. The quarry produced the first North American Jurassic ankylosaurian dinosaur (Mymoorapelta) plus other herbivorous as well as carnivorous taxa along with three types of non-dinosaur reptiles. Although six of the seven known species from the quarry are well-known from other sites in the Morrison Formation, the Mygatt-Moore Quarry is unusual in preserving thousands of bones, almost none of which are in articulation – nearly all are scattered. Also unique for the quarry is the number of Apatosaurus and Allosaurus bones and the chewed bone elements preserved along with hundreds of shed teeth of carnivores, suggesting possible scavenging of carcasses by predators. This study aims to determine how these animals and their bones ended up in this one relatively thin concentration in far western Colorado and how this origin compares with other large dinosaur sites in the Morrison Formation – a comparison that will shed light on how Late Jurassic ecosystems were different from those of today and other times in Earth history.