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Mojave Desert Facilities

The Mojave Desert in California supports over 2/3 of the Marine Corps' training and lands and premier installations of the other Services. It contains unique species and cultural resources found nowhere else, and is currently the site of several new or expanded national parks and preserves. It contains critical habitat for federally listed species like the threatened desert tortoise. This same region is predicted to triple its population within the next 20 years.

The proposed West Mojave Coordinated Management Plan (WMCMP) is a comprehensive, interagency plan (32 different federal, state, and local agencies) being developed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for the conservation of biological resources in the Western Mojave Region. The Plan is intended to function as a regional habitat conservation plan for meeting the requirements of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Plan also serves to fully satisfy the requirements and objectives of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 1994 Desert Tortoise Recovery Plan.

The five DoD installations located in the planning area ( MCAGCC, China Lake, Edwards AFB, Ft Irwin and MCLB, Barstow) represent 28 percent of the lands identified in the Plan. NREA Directorate personnel along with the other DoD installation managers reviewed the draft Plan in July/August 1995. Comments and recommendations on the Plan were presented to the BLM, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG). Directorate personnel have continued to provide input as the development of the draft plan has continued.

Land managers in the Mojave Desert today are faced with multiple challenges. Expanding economic development causes increased pressure on natural resources while the public demands objective and effective management strategies. Diverse groups seek to achieve conflicting goals that balance multiple demands on fragile, exhaustible resources. These goals include establishing and expanding national parks, creating wilderness areas, protecting threatened and endangered plants and animals, developing recreational areas, and expanding economic development. Given the projections for a tripling of the population in the region over the next twenty years, competition among these interests will increase resulting in fragmentation of conservation and development efforts. As a result, land managers must develop programs that evaluate, monitor, and predict system change including that caused by human impact. The task for Natural Resource Managers becomes one of fully understanding the concepts of natural system processes, integrity, and sustainability and to present sound scientific results to promote true ecosystem management.

The Mojave Desert Ecosystem Program (MDEP) represents a Department of Defense (DOD) effort to meld together a shared scientific database that can be used to affect dynamic sustainable land management decisions. It is not itself a management process, but a tool to enable more accurate modeling of environmental factors that will facilitate data driven management within the Mojave ecoregion. The program directly supports the military readiness in the region through provision of a framework for determining research strategies, mitigation measures and designing enlightened, long-term resource planning to ensure ongoing activities, including training mission objectives. It will provide all users (federal, state, local, and private) easy Internet access to georeferenced natural and cultural resource data for the entire ecoregion. The program is a model for the sharing and integration of data and expertise from a long list of participants including the National Training Center, Fort Irwin; Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake; Air Force Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base; Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twenty Nine Palms; and Marine Corps Logistics Base, Barstow.

The California Desert Managers Group (DMG) was formed to provide desert wide operational collaboration for ecosystem management, customer service and organizational efficiency. The DMG was instrumental in the formulation, support and guidance of the MDEP. Through its Science and Data Management Team, a major role of the DMG has been to provide the link between the technological capabilities and the on the ground user requirements for a diverse array of agency missions and management directions. This overview provides the priorities for data collection, the encouragement for funding and the coordination of input from on going science and research projects.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) provided the Assistance Representative for the project that also was the focal point for all administrative activities. In this role the BLM provided the administrative oversight for the Task Order with Utah State University (USU.), the Interagency Cooperative Agreement with the US Geological Survey, and the Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Defense at Ft. Irwin. They CO-chaired the Legacy Management Oversight Group (LMOG) and assisted in facilitation needed to accomplish each of the four identified Phases of the USU. Task Order. The BLM provided extensive field data for the project and participated in recommending of priorities to the USU. Task Order. Each of the LMOG meetings logistical support, agendas and final minutes for the project were carried out by the BLM. The Bureau was also the focal point for all financial support functions of the project as it related to the above mentioned agreements and MOU.



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