Grazing Authorization Renewal

AIM data is no different than the other data that field offices use for grazing authorization renewals. Currently, BLM field offices are asked to look at all available data to make a decision, whether for a renewal or any other NEPA action.  If you are implementing AIM in your field office to evaluate the effectiveness of your land use plan or another purpose, you should look to see where those points fall since you may find that you have points in the allotment you are looking at.  Additionally, the surrounding points in the landscape provide context for your allotment monitoring information.  If they are all showing evidence of a drought, or increased invasive species, this may help you explain these factors in your allotment.  Likewise, this information can help you set realistic allotment objectives or describe reference conditions.

 The Taos Field Office recently conducted a Term Grazing Lease Renewal for Martinez Canyon where it was determined that it is available for livestock grazing as it is meeting the three land health standards and is in conformance with the five guidelines of the 2001 New Mexico Standards for Public Land Health and Guidelines for Livestock Grazing Management. Read more...

Chapter 3 of the Environmental Assessment (EA) describes the affected environment and is where AIM methods/indicators come into play. It was used to describe the vegetation (including noxious weeds) and intercanopy gaps within the area/allotment as well as the soils. The EA was slightly atypical due to a special status species occurring within the allotment (A. ripleyi or Ripley’s milkvetch). Attach EA. 

For allotments that do not have any management changes scheduled, an allotment evaluation is done. Allotment evaluations were done in 2014 for the Puertacito Salado and El Aislado allotments within the Taos Field Office. AIM was used to describe the current status of the vegetation and soils in both cases. Read more...

The El Aislado allotment had some concerns about percent bare ground, lack of cool season grasses, and shrub dominance (see Table 1) but it was determined that they are expected to be mostly caused by the recent, persistent drought and is meeting the New Mexico standards for public health and guidelines for livestock grazing. The Puertacito Salado allotment had some concerns around the abundances of functional/structural vegetation groups and evidence of water erosion but it was also determined it still met the New Mexico standards. It was recommended to reissue the 10-year grazing lease but to continue monitoring efforts to assess the vegetative community, soil stability, and overall site function and integrity.

Table 1. The AIM section of the 2014 Allotment Evaluations (AE) for the Puertacito Salado and El Aislado allotments.

Method/Indicator Puertacito Salado El Aislado
Species Inventory 25 species were observed on the plot. They were Bigelow sage (Artemisia bigelovii), winterfat (Krascheninnikovia lanata), broom snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae), fourwing saltbrush (Atriplex canescens), an unknown plum (Prunus sp), tree cholla (Cylindropuntia imbricata), an unknown cactus (Cylindropuntia sp), plains pricklypear (Opuntia polyacantha), yucca (believed to be Yucca angustissima), wooly plantain (Plantago patagonica), rose heath (Chaetopappa ericoides), needle and thread (Hesperostipa comata), galleta (Pleuraphis jamesii), sand dropseed (Sporobolus cryptandrus), blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis), Indian ricegrass (Achnatherum hymenoides), bottlebrush squirreltail (Elymus elymoides), ring muhly (Muhlenbergia torreyi), evening primrose (Oenothera pallida), scarlet globemallow (Sphaeralcea coccinea), Russian thistle (Salsola tragus), western tansymustard (Descurania pinnata), pinyon (Pinus edulis), oneseed juniper (Juniperus monosperma), and an unknown perennial forb labeled PF01. 13 species were identified on the plot. They were blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis), western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii), bottlebrush squirreltail (Elymus elymoides), ring muhly (Muhlenbergia torreyi), winterfat (Krascheninnikovia lanata), broom snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae), rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa and Chrysothamnus greenii), big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), slender buckwheat (Eriogonum microthecum), buckwheat (Eriogonum sp.), pingue rubberweed (Hymenoxys richardsonii) and pinyon pine (Pinus edulis).

 

 

LPI Averaged across the plot, approximately 35% of the plot was represented by bare ground and 34% of the plot had foliar cover. The greatest contributors to foliar cover were needle and thread at 15% of the plot, blue grama at 8% of the plot, and galleta at 6% of the plot. Grass species accounted for approximately 32% of foliar cover this season although the remaining non-grass species accounted for 5%. These values add to more than 34% due to overlap in foliar cover by species. Approximately 14% of surface hits were on rock fragments, 5% were on plant bases, 1% on lichen, 1% on cyanobacteria, and 79% on soil. No non-native species were detected by this method. Averaged across the plot, approximately 37% of the plot was represented by bare ground and 43% had foliar cover. The greatest contributors to foliar cover were big sagebrush at 20% and blue grama at 21% of the plot. Blue grama and western wheatgrass were the only grass species encountered with this method, so grasses were assumed to cover approximately 24% of the plot. Approximately 73% of surface hits were on soil, 15% on rock fragments, and 12% on plant bases. No non-native species were detected by this method.

 

Canopy Gap Averaged across the plot, a transect would be expected to have 13 total meters—52% of the transect length—without foliar canopy. Gaps between 25 and 50 cm would make up 14% of the transect; 51 to 100 cm, 27%; 101 to 200 cm, 5%; and greater than 200 cm, 6%. Averaged across the plot, a transect would be expected to have 24 total meters—45% of the transect length—without foliar cover. Gaps between 25 and 50cm would make up 8% of the transect; 51 to 100cm, 13%; 101 to 200cm, 20%, and greater than 200cm, 5%.
Soil Stability The average soil aggregate stability rating at the surface for the site was 3.3. For protected soils, those under grasses averaged 4.2, those under shrubs averaged 4.0, and those under forbs averaged 3.0. Unprotected soils averaged a rating of 2.7. Four samples received a rating of 6.0. N/A

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