Colorado State University’s Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands and the Colorado Natural Heritage Program have received more than $900,000 in federal stimulus funds to conduct a series of ecological inventories for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers along the Upper Missouri River.
Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Colorado State researchers will assess natural resources around eight reservoirs on the Missouri River in Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota and Montana. The project will inventory and map vegetation, assess rare plant and animal species, and map land capability classes on 379,000 acres of Corps of Engineers property.
“This is one of the first collaborations between the Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands and the Colorado Natural Heritage Program and the complementary nature of our two organizations working together was a positive factor in the decision by the Corps to award the project to CSU. The species inventories, land capability assessment and vegetation mapping needed to be completed on a short timeline and with a minimum of interference to the site manager’s workloads. Our combined experience in conducting vegetation classification and mapping projects and species inventories, and our co-location within the Warner College of Natural Resources will enable us to do that effectively,” said Joe Stevens, an ecologist with CSU’s Colorado Natural Heritage Program.
As part of the two-year project, the CSU team will inventory animals and plants in the project areas which are federally listed as endangered, threatened, or classified as sensitive within one or more of the states. Another aspect of the project will be to develop a geo-database of soil types on the Corps properties, classifying the soil as to its capability to support different vegetation and land uses. The largest portion of the project entails the classification and mapping of all vegetation communities at the physiognomic level using multi-band satellite imagery, followed by an extensive on-the-ground accuracy assessment.
All this information will enable the Corps to meet its mandate to provide flood control, hydroelectric power, and public outdoor recreation while managing and conserving natural resources and protecting rare species and habitats.
The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Miss., will provide technical oversight and contract management of this work for the Corps of Engineers’ Omaha District.
The CSU team will be hiring a number of field technicians for work on the project sites during the next two summers.
About the Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands
The center is a research and service unit within the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State. Since 1985, the center has supported the U.S. Department of Defense and other federal agencies by providing professional services and technical support in conservation, environmental planning and natural and cultural resources management. For more information, visit www.cemml.colostate.edu.
About the Colorado Natural Heritage Program
The Heritage Program is a research and service unit within CSU’s Warner College of Natural Resources. It tracks and ranks Colorado’s rare and imperiled species and habitats, and provides information and expertise on these topics to promote the conservation of Colorado’s valuable biological resources. Data maintained in the Colorado Natural Heritage Program database are an integral part of ongoing research at CSU and reflect the observations of many scientists, institutions and our current state of knowledge. For more information, visit www.cnhp.colostate.edu.