Launched in June 2016, RAMPS was developed to assist Department of the Interior (DOI) and other land management agencies develop successful restoration strategies for the water-limited ecosystems, or drylands, of the American Southwest. RAMPS is funded by DOI and composed of scientists, managers, and practitioners with dryland restoration expertise from multiple U.S. Geological Survey Science Centers, DOI management agencies, and universities. The program is administered by researchers at Northern Arizona University and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Southwest Biological Science Center.
Why is RAMPS needed?
Southwestern drylands have been degraded by invasive species, wildfire, energy development, recreational activity, overgrazing, agricultural conversion, and urban growth. Additionally, the Southwest is expected to experience decreasing water availability because of drought and increasing temperatures in the future. To further exacerbate matters, the Southwest is a region of some of the fastest human population growth in the United States. For example, in Arizona there are three cities among the top 15 fastest growing cities in the United States. Additionally, Phoenix, Arizona is one of ten U.S. cities containing at least 1 million people.
Despite the obvious demand for dryland restoration and rehabilitation, little information is available to help managers effectively reestablish perennial vegetation and stabilize soils. There is even less information available to help managers develop appropriate restoration plans for changing climate and disturbance regimes. Therefore, resource managers need to restore or rehabilitate degraded dryland systems that are susceptible to a variety of disturbances, many of which are expected to increase in intensity in the future, but they often do not have the information necessary to develop successful restoration or rehabilitation strategies.
To address these issues, RAMPS will produce records of restoration treatments, provide online tools to assess probability of planting success, provide guidance on the availability of appropriate seeds, assess the economics of dryland restoration, and support monitoring activities to track restoration effectiveness. In other words, RAMPS aims to work with managers and scientists to produce the information and tools needed by managers to develop and implement successful restoration and rehabilitation strategies.