Graduation Year

Spring 2013

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Environmental Analysis

Reader 1

Frances Hanzawa

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Rights Information

© 2012 Corrine Calhoun


Ecological research, both basic and applied, can inform management decisions on public land in a number of ways. Most importantly, it can illuminate any negative effects of a given land use practice as well as the causes behind that effect. This type of information can be important to a management agency, such as the BLM, with a multi-use mission as these studies indicate under what management regimes a land use is in contradiction with other goals, such as conservation or restoration.

The current body of research, however, is flawed. In order to make fully informed decisions, land managers are in need of site or ecosystem-specific studies, which may not be available for the ecosystem in question. In addition, as is the case with investigations of the effects of extraction of natural gas, lack of baseline data and systematically controlled experiments lead to incomplete answering of questions pertinent to land managers.

To produce research that is more pertinent to land managers, researchers and managers can work together more closely. This could be facilitated if funding were available to BLM field offices to solicit investigation into questions they need answered locally. This may necessitate a certain level of decentralization or at least more discretionary power given to local managers within the agency. Close collaboration between researchers and land managers from the beginning would ensure the produced results could better inform management decisions.

Public land managers of the BLM cannot only consider scientific research when making land use decisions, however. Its multi-use mission statement requires an integration of conservation, restoration, recreation and resource use and extraction. This can lead to a number of conflicts or contradictions between goals. In addition, national, state, and local values and priorities play into which land use practices are deemed acceptable, often regardless of scientific research. In order to remedy the situation, boundary spanning, a transdisciplinary approach, and decentralization have been suggested.