Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rare plant monitoring

One of the jobs of a BLM botanist is to monitor known populations of rare and threatened plants, as well as always keep an eye out for new populations. This monitoring is typically done by visiting a known site, and making an inventory of all known plants, as well as keeping track of any new individuals found. The most common way we perform this task in the Ridgecrest Field Office is to use a GPS unit, typically a Garmon, and whenever we find one of our target plants, mark a waypoint. By doing this, we begin to develop a distribution map that allows us to track the species over time, and keep an eye on the health of the populations in our care.

Another reason that we keep track of the rare plants is because of our nature as a multi-use agency. There are many projects that are proposed on public land can potentially have an impact on these rare species. By tracking them, we can very quickly determine if a project will be stopped. Though charismatic fauna, such as desert tortoise or raptors are much more prominent, our rare plants are protected under the same laws, and therefore, any project that would impact them can be immediately blocked. And unlike most animals, there is little that can be done to mitigate the loss of habitat, as many of these plants are found in such narrow bands of distribution, and under such specific conditions, that they can't simply be moved. Ensuring that none of our rare plants are impacted by development of the desert is one of the biggest reasons that we keep track of these species.

No comments:

Post a Comment