SWAT Literature Database for Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles

Title:Techniques for assessing the environmental outcomes of conservation practices applied to rangeland watersheds 
Authors:Weltz, M.A., L. Jolley, D. Goodrich, K. Boykin, M. Nearing, J. Stone, P. Guertin, M. Hernandez, K. Spaeth, F. Pierson, C. Morris and B. Kepner 
Journal:Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 
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URL (non-DOI journals): 
Broad Application Category:hydrologic & pollutant 
Primary Application Category:land use change 
Secondary Application Category:sediment loss and transport 
Watershed Description:2,237 km^2 Rock Creek in northern Nevada, U.S. 
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Validation Summary: 
General Comments:An abstract was not really reported for this study; the material in the abstract slot is the first two paragraphs of the paper. The paper discusses the use of the USDA AGWA GIS interface and models that can be applied with it for rangeland analyses including SWAT. An example of applying SWAT for the Nevada watershed listed here is included in the paper. 
Abstract:Grazing lands are the most dominant land cover type in the United States, with approximately 311.7 Mha being defined as rangelands (Mitchell 2000). Approximately 53% (166.2 Mha) of the nation’s rangelands (USDA 2009) are owned and managed by the private sector, while approximately 43% are managed by the federal government (USDA NRCS 2011a). The remaining rangelands are owned and managed by tribal, state, and local governments. Information on the type, extent, and spatial location of land degradation on rangelands is needed to inform policy and management decisions on rangelands; however, there is no systematic or coordinated national dataset on status or condition of rangelands for the United States to make informed policy decisions (NRC 1994; Herrick et al. 2010). Rangelands in the west are sparsely populated, and assessments of rangeland conditions have historically not been uniformly conducted across all land ownership classes in any systematic monitoring program. Therefore, it is difficult to assess the current health of rangelands and which areas could benefit from targeted conservation as USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has recently done for cropland within the Upper Mississippi River Basin (USDA NRCS 2010) and the Chesapeake Bay (USDA NRCS 2011b) through the Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP). CEAP is a USDA initiative that is focused on quantifying environmental impacts of conservation on agricultural lands. The CEAP component aimed at assessing conservation on grazing lands was initiated in 2006 (Weltz et al. 2008). The challenges associated with assessments and monitoring on grazing lands and specifically rangelands are extreme due to the large spatial extent of the resource, mixed land ownership, high variability of biological attributes due to extremes in annual precipitation in arid and semiarid rangelands, no uniform sampling protocol, and no central agency assigned for conducting the assessment. The assessment of rangelands is further complicated by the difficulty in defining a baseline condition (reference condition) to document what changes have occurred. Additional challenges include developing cost-effective means of integrating quantitative data into an assessment protocol, high cost associated with collecting and processing national datasets, minimal analytical tools to interpret the results, and no dedicated team to develop and write the assessment.