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Rangeland ecosystems are one of the largest providers of agro-ecological services in the U.S. and these systems are particularly responsive to climate variability. The capacity to forecast rangeland plant productivity for the upcoming year would greatly improve managers’ ability to make decisions about stocking rates and locations, wildlife forage needs, and fire management plans. Here we describe the creation of a user-friendly, online tool that will provide forecasts of grassland and rangeland productivity for the southwestern U.S., allowing land managers, ranchers, scientists, and the general public to visualize and predict plant production for the upcoming season. We are integrating data from remote sensing, weather forecasting, and modeling techniques to build a system that provides updated plant production forecasts every two weeks on a county-by-county scale. The financial and ecological security of the vast public lands and agroecosystems in the U.S. depends on our ability to manage resources in a dynamic world. The work described here will focus on predictive science capacity to address vulnerability, early warning, and decision support, and could have many uses, including for those who need to make decisions about wildlife, livestock, restoration, and fire.

Science Support Framework Category: Applications

Author(s): Sasha Reed (screed@usgs.gov) – USGS Southwest Biological Science Center, Bill Smith (wksmith@email.arizona.edu) – University of Arizona, Brian Fuchs (bfuchs2@unl.edu) – National Drought Mitigation Center, Bill Parton (William.Parton@colostate.edu) - Colorado State University, Emile Elias (emile.elias@ars.usda.gov) – USDA Southwest Climate Hub, Brian Wardlow (bwardlow2@unl.edu) - Center for Advanced Land Management Information Technologies