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Land and Water Use

Land and Water Use

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Land and Water Use

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  1. Land and Water Use

  2. Topics • Rangeland • Urban Land Development • Public and Federal Lands • Mining • Fishing • Global Economics

  3. Rangeland

  4. Rangeland • Vast natural landscapes with different vegetation including tall and short grasslands, chaparral, scrubland, woodlands, and wetlands • Covered in natural vegetation and often used as grazing lands

  5. Rangelands • Rangelands are about 40% of the land in the US • Nearly 80% of the land in the west • Only 7% on the east coast

  6. Value of Rangelands • Source of grazing for livestock and wildlife • Low input, fully renewable food production • Source of high quality water, clean air, and open space • Setting for recreation • Fishing, hunting, camping, hiking, nature experiences • Used for agriculture, mining, and living communities • Habitat for many game and non-game animals • Habitat for diverse array of natural plants

  7. Overgrazing • Occurs when plants are exposed for too long without sufficient recovery periods. • Plants that are overgrazed lose their stored energy and die • Root dieback can add nutrients to the soil and improve water retention • Plants are over grazed when it is regrazed before the roots recover • Overgrazing slows root growth by 90%

  8. Consequence of overgrazing • Pastures are less productive • Soils have less organic matter and are less fertile • Soil porosity is decreased • Infiltration and moisture holding capacity of the soil drops • Desired plants become stressed and weedier species thrive • Biodiversity decreases by reducing native vegetation

  9. Consequence of overgrazing • Erosion can occur • Riparian (river banks, stream beds) can be destroyed and increase silting • Eutrophication due to cattle waste • Balance of ecosystem is threatened through predator control programs • Diseases can thrive • Sustainability of the land is threatened

  10. Desertification • Conversion of marginal rangeland or cropland to more desert type land • Caused by: • Overgrazing • Soil erosion • Prolonged drought • Climate change

  11. Steps of desertification • Overgrazing results in animals eating all available plant life • Rain washes away trampled soil • Wells, springs, and other water sources dry up • Remaining vegetation dies or is taken for firewood • Weeds unsuitable to grazing take over • Ground becomes unsuitable for seed germination • Winds and dry heat blow away the topsoil

  12. Federal Rangeland Management • Jurisdiction through Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) • Before 1995: policies determined by rancher advisory boards • After 1995: resource advisory council was formed by member of many groups with many interests • 40% of federal grazing permits are owned by 3% (~2000) of all livestock operators • True cost =~$10 - $20 per animal per day

  13. Methods of rangeland management • Controlling the number and distribution of livestock so that the carrying capacity is not exceeded • Restoring degraded rangeland • Moving livestock from one area to another to allow the rangeland to recover • Fencing off riparian areas to reduce damage to these sensitive areas • Suppressing the growth of invasive plant species

  14. Methods of rangeland management • Replanting barren rangeland with native grass seed to reduce soil erosion • Providing supplemental feed at selected sites • Locating water holes, water tanks, and salt blocks at strategic points that do not degrade the environment

  15. Conservation concerns • Land administered by the BLM is inhabited by 219 species of wildlife • Livestock grazing is the fifth rated threat to endangered plant species, fourth leading threat to endangered wildlife, and number one threat to endangered species in arid regions

  16. Urban Land Development

  17. Planned Development • In US • 76 million residential buildings • 5 million commercial buildings • Use: • 1/3 of the energy • 2/3 of the electricity • Energy needs • ½ of sulfur dioxide • 1/4 of nitrous oxide • 1/3 of carbon dioxide

  18. Green buildings and cities • Focus on systems approach • Include: • Energy conservation through government and private rebates, tax incentives, and other less-polluting forms of energy • Resource-efficient building techniques and materials • Indoor air quality • Water conservation through use of xeriscaping • Designs that minimize waste while utilizing recycled materials

  19. Green buildings and cities • Include: • Placing buildings whenever possible near public transportation hubs that use a multitude of venues such as light rail, subways, and park and rides • Creating environments that are pedestrian friendly by incorporating parks, green-belts, and shopping areas in accessible areas • Preserving historical and cultural aspects of the community while at the same time blending into natural feeling and aesthetics of a community

  20. Suburban sprawl and urbanization • Urbanization = the movement of people form rural areas to cities and the changes that accompany it • Greatest urbanization in Asia and Africa • Reasons for the move: • Access to jobs • Easier access to health care • Mechanization of agriculture • Access to education • Nations with most rapid increase in urbanization are those with the most rapid economic growth

  21. Uses less land – less impact on the environment Better education delivery system Mass transit systems reduce reliance on fossil fuels – shorter commute Better sanitation Recycling systems are more efficient Large numbers of people generate higher tax revenues Urban areas attract industry due to availability of raw materials, distribution networks, customers, and labor pool Much pollution comes from point sources – enables focused remediation techniques Pros of urbanization

  22. More concentrated impact on the land Overcrowded schools Commuting times are longer because infrastructure cannot keep up with growth Sanitiation systems have greater volumes of waste to deal with Solid-waste build up is more pronounced – landfill space is scarce and costly Large number of poor strain social services – wealthier people move to suburbs and decreases the tax base High population densities lead to higher crime rates Population increase may be greater than job growth rate Pollution levels are high Cons of urbanization

  23. Transportation and Infrastructure • Transportation can be via roadways or water channels • Areas without transportation infrastructure suffer ecosystem impacts • Degraded environment due to off-roading • People take multiple paths through the environment instead of just one

  24. Federal Highway System • ~160,000 miles of roadway important to nations economy, defense, and mobility • Receive federal funding but are owned, built, and operated by the states • Taxes • 18 cents/ gallon of gas • 25 cents/ gallon of diesel • Tax on heavy vehicles

  25. Federal Highway System Continued • Serves all major US cities • Interstates go through downtown areas and facilitate urban sprawl • Virtually all goods and services go involve the highways system at some point in time

  26. Impact of an efficient and well maintained highways system • Less pollution: less stop and go traffic = less pollution • Reduced green house gasses: reduced congestion = less greenhouse gas emissions • Improve fuel economy and reduce dependence on foreign oil: fueled economy (mpg) is reduced in traffic • Modest improvements would save 1 billion gallons of fuel each year • Improve the economy: interstates return $6 for every $1 invested • Improve the quality of life: allow products to be distributed more efficiently

  27. Canals and Channels • Channel (straight) – narrow body of water that connect two larger bodies of water • Can be natural or constructed • Need dredging because of silting

  28. Channels • Channels frequented by ships are maintained by the Department of the Interior • Monitored and policed by the Coast Guard • Smaller channels are maintained by state and local governments

  29. Suez Canal • 163 mile canal connect the Red Sea and the Mediterranean • Allows water transport between Europe and Asia without going around Africa • 8% of the world’s shipping goes through the Suez Canal

  30. Panama Canal • 48 mile canal connecting the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic • Allows water transport without going around South America

  31. Lake Gatun • An artificial lake created to help traffic on the Panama Canal • Deforestation has lead to rapid run off of rain and erosion of the slopes • The lake needs to be dredged to maintain its depth • Shortfall in the dry season threatens the lake’s capacity

  32. Roadless Areas and Ecosystem Impact • Roadless areas are a haven for fish and wildlife interior species that have suffered habitat loss in other areas • Provide habitat to 1600+ threatened or endangered species • Protects watersheds • Roadless rule protects 60 million acres or 31% of National Forest systems – 2% of total land area

  33. Public and Federal Lands

  34. Management – BLM • Manages: • 1/8 of the United States (262 million acres) • 300 million acres of subsurface mining resources • Wildlife management and preservation on 400 million acres • Mostly in western US and Alaska • Grasslands, forests, high mountains, arctic tundra, deserts • Resources: energy, mineral, timber, forage, wild horse and burro populations, fish and wildlife habitats, wilderness, areas, archeological, paleontological, and historical sites

  35. National Parks • World wide: over 1,100 • Most do not receive protection from poachers, loggers, miners, and farmers due to cost involved

  36. U.S. National Parks • 84 million acres (4 million in private ownership) • Threatened by: • large numbers of visitors • Congestion • eroded trails • noise pollution • pollution from autos and visitors • introduction of invasive species • off road vehicles • commercial activities

  37. Solution to national park issues • Reducing amount of private land within national parks • Providing education programs to the public • Setting quotas on attendance through advanced reservation • Adopting a fee that covers costs • Banning off-road vehicles • Banning autos and providing buses to control traffic • Providing tax incentives to property owners near parks to use land grants • Conducting periodic and detailed wildlife and plant inventories

  38. Laws relevant to national parks • Wilderness act (1964) • Wild and scenic rivers act (1968) • Food Security Act (1985): a.k.a “Swampbuster” contains provisions to discourage the conversion of wetlands into non-wetland areas. Also created system for farmers to regain lost federal benefits if they restore converted wetlands.

  39. Wildlife Refuges • 1st: Pelican Island, 4-acres off the coast of Florida in 1903 to protect breeding birds • First created to protect wildlife that was over hunted • Bison, birds • System developed piecemeal in response to wildlife crisis

  40. National Wildlife Refuge • Consists of: • 547 refuges • 93+ million acres • Managed by Fish and Wildlife Service

  41. Wetlands • Areas that are covered by water and support plants that can grow in water-saturated soil • High plant productivity • Support rich diversity of animal life • Countries with most: • Canada • Russian Federation • Brazil

  42. Value of wetlands • Natural water purification systems • Stabilize shorelines and reduce damage by storm surges • Reduce the risk of flooding • Reduce salt water intrusion • Habitat for many species during all or part of their life cycle

  43. Types of Wetlands • Fen • Has a continuous source of ground water rich in magnesium and calcium (alkaline or basic) • Water is from glacial deposits • Ground is impermeable to water so water sits on the surface • Bog • Accumulates acidic peat • In cold and temperate climates • Low in nutrients and highly acidic • Carnivorous plants adapted

  44. Habitat Loss • In US, wetlands used to cover 10% of the land; now they only cover 5% • Most in Louisiana and Florida • 90% of habitat loss is due to conversion to agriculture or urban development • 1/3 of all endangered species in US spend part of their life in a wetland

  45. Wilderness areas • Wild or primitive portions of national forests, parks, and wildlife refuges where little to no human activity occurs • Wilderness Act created National Wilderness Preservation System • Encompasses a wide variety of ecosystems throughout the country