Developing an Adaptive Management Plan

Citizen-Science-Grassland-Monitoring

By Tom Greco, Communications Manager

We in the Bay Area are proud of the beauty and abundance of our landscapes. For example, when you drive highway 101 north of San Francisco you can’t help but feel a sense of awe around the rolling hills, valleys full of lichen-frosted oaks, and sweeping green and gold grasslands stretching out in all directions. And though you may not know it from a distance, these landscapes are home to some of the greatest diversity of plant and animal life found anywhere in the world, making it all the more important to protect them for future generations.

Few people realize that this natural abundance is largely a result of millennia of land and water management on the part of native peoples, and now the future of these resources are in our collective hands to cherish and care for. There are many ways to manage a landscape and our decisions can have a tremendous impact on the health of our ecosystems and the vital services they provide to the community. Pepperwood is developing an Adaptive Management Plan for our 3,200 acre preserve that will demonstrate the most effective management strategies—verified by our onsite research—and serve as a model for other land and water managers throughout our community.

Key goals for Pepperwood’s adaptive management for our preserve include:

  • Promote the vitality and diversity of native plant and animal life
  • Ensure our ecosystems continue to provide the vital services we rely on including water supply and soil health
  • Reduce threats posed by invasive species, and minimize the potential negative impacts of human activities including education programs, research and recreation
  • With our Native American Council, integrate traditional ecological knowledge
  • Consider potential long-term impacts of climate change on management objectives and adaptive practices using our TBC3 knowledgebase

A central part of an Adaptive Management Plan is a learning process by which managers measure the impacts of their decisions through monitoring, and then adjust management practices over time to better meet their goals. As our researchers and land managers consciously test best practices, we will be monitoring the land for desired results and adjusting our management so that the outcomes we want are achieved.

Our Sentinel Site network of sensors and research plots provides the perfect framework for this monitoring work and puts Pepperwood in a unique position to develop science-based management practices. Best practices—the most effective ways we find to graze cattle or control the spread of invasive species, for example—will be shared with resource managers throughout our region to help our natural places thrive.

“This is the first application of the cutting-edge TBC3 knowledgebase to a parcel-scale, on the ground management plan for a complicated mosaic of ecosystems” shares lead TBC3 scientist, Dr. Stu Weiss of the Creekside Center for Earth Observation, an advisor to the project. “The issues we are hashing through are common to many conservation lands in the California Coast Ranges.”

Pepperwood looks forward to having the results of its Adaptive Management Plan available to benefit the many other beautiful open spaces throughout Northern California.

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