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Western Invasives Learning Network Workshops

Workshop #3 of the Western Invasives Learning Network--
October 25-27, 2005, Grand Junction, Colorado
"Developing Strategies at Multiple Scales"


The third workshop of the WILN focused on specific strategies that were undertaken mostly at the project-scale and exporting those lessons-learned to multiple scales, primarily to influence communications and public policy. TNC Government Relations and Communications/Marketing staff were present throughout the workshop to discuss successful (and unsuccessful) invasive species policy initiatives, to elaborate on how to best work with stewardship staff to achieve greater outcomes, and to create a dialogue for how to make a difference in abating the invasive species threat over the long-term and at multiple-scales.

Plenary talks were given on (1) State, regional, and national invasive species policy initiatives (Avalyn Taylor, Mark Kramer, Bas Hargrove, Len Barson, John Hall, Elizabeth Sklad), (2) State agency needs (Eric Lane, CO Dept of Ag), (3) ongoing invasive species landscape-scale projects: Hells Canyon (Art Talsma & Mike Atchison), Zumwalt prairie (Rob Taylor & Phil Shephard), and the San Miguel River Tamarisk project (Mallory Dimmitt). Additionally, a session on effective communications and marketing emphasized how storytelling is an effective means to communicate messages.

Break-out sessions focused on providing feedback to project sites and developing strategies to use at participant's projects. A half-day field trip to the San Miguel River Tamarisk project demonstrated the project's goals, objectives, strategies, and challenges of eradicating Tamarisk across a large area of multiple ownerships in this riparian system.

Forty-one people participated in the workshop, including area-based practitioners, partners and scientific experts from the Conservancy, the Colorado Department of Agriculture, the Center for Invasive Plant Management, Texas A&M University, the City of Boulder, Audubon Canyon Ranch/Cal-IPC, and the National Park Service.


Previous meetings of the Western Invasives Learning Network

Workshop #1 of the Western Invasives Learning Network
May 18-20, 2004, Lewiston, Idaho
"Creating Realistic Management Goals & Objectives for Landscape Scale Projects: What are the Threats and Impacts of Invasive Species?"


The WILN's first workshop focused on creating and setting quantifiable goals and objectives for participating project sites, assessing and identifying specific invasive species threats and sources of those threats to conservation objectives, and setting priorities for abating those threats at the landscape scale. Plenary talks were given on (1)Assessing the invasive plant threat to conservation targets (John Randall, TNC), (2)Using remote sensing and GIS technologies to map invasive species (Jason Karl, TNC), (3)Evaluating risk to native plant communities from exotic weeds using spatially explicit predictive modeling (Maria Mantas, TNC), (4)Using predictive modeling to prioritize sites for invasives inventory (Dave Barnett, USGS/NREL-Colorado State Univ.), (5)Predictive modeling as a guide for invasives management in Hells Canyon (Tim Prather, Univ. of Idaho), and (6)Evaluating the long-term effectiveness of early detection and rapid response strategies at Pine Butte Swamp and the northern Rocky Mountain Front (Dave Hanna, TNC).

Interactive peer review sessions provided an opportunity for participants to begin creating an invasive species management plan that included: (a)identifying what success looks like across their landscape, (b)knowing where to prioritize invasive species inventory & mapping, and (c)knowing where to focus invasive species control and management efforts. Participants were required to define a desired conservation target viability rank (e.g., "good" or "very good") for each project target and desired threat rank for invasive species threat levels (i.e. "moderate" or "low"). This allowed participants to set measurable objectives for desired future conditions of targets and invasive species threats to the target.

A half-day field trip to TNC's Garden Creek Preserve along the Snake River in Hells Canyon introduced participants to the challenges, difficulties and opportunities in implementing early detection and control management activities across this rugged, mostly inaccessible landscape. A variety of appropriate remote sensing methods and technologies were described and further discussed during the trip.

Thirty-six people participated in the workshop, including site-based practitioners, partners, and scientific experts from the Conservancy, University of Idaho, USGS/University of Colorado, USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, the City of Boulder Colorado, Colorado Dept of Agriculture, Center of Invasive Plant Management, Asotin County Noxious Weed Control, and the National Park Service.

Workshop #2 of the Western Invasives Learning Network
January 19-21, 2005, Irvine Ranch, California
"Measuring and Monitoring the Invasive Species Threat and Steps Towards Successful Threat Abatement"


The second workshop of the WILN focused on how best to measure and monitor (a)the current condition and viability of each project's conservation targets and objectives, and (b)the invasive species threats to those identified targets. Different sampling methods and designs were presented for use at multiple scales, and discussion of how to interpret monitoring results were recurring themes of the workshop. Plenary talks were given on (1)What do you need to know in order to make decisions about invasive species management (John Randall, TNC), (2)Interactions among scale, inference, and confidence when monitoring populations, communities and landscapes (Bob Unnasch, TNC), (3)Monitoring at the site and landscape scales to determine the effectiveness of fire and grazing to maintain diversity in vernal pool grasslands (Jaymee Marty, TNC), (4)Letting goals, efficiency and scale determine your monitoring methods: examples from the Santa Monica Mountains NRA (Christy Brigham, NPS), and Assessing invasive species across large geographic regions (Eric Lane, Colorado Dept of Agriculture).

Break-out sessions allowed participants to receive peer critique and review regarding their project's monitoring plan for assessing the invasive species threat to identified conservation targets and how to adequately measure progress made towards abating those threats. An afternoon field exercise at nearby Crystal Cove State Park further introduced participants to different vegetation monitoring methodologies at multiple scales, and interpretation and evaluation of those data were discussed following the exercise.

A half-day field trip on the second day to the Irvine Ranch Conservation Area acquainted participants with the invasive artichoke thistle, which threatens local grassland habitats and the native coastal sage community, and also demonstrated some of the challenges of managing a natural area that is almost completely surrounded by urban development. During the field trip participants were tasked to devise an adequate monitoring program for the Irvine Ranch Conservation Area to determine if their 10 year management goals are being met, and to also work on developing a monitoring program for their own projects.

Thirty-one people participated in the workshop, including area-based practitioners, partners and scientific experts from the Conservancy, the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, several local NGOs, the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Arizona Western College, and the University of California at Irvine.


Archives: Aridlands Grazing Workshops

Aridlands Grazing Workshop #1:
The Conceptual Scientific Framework for Conservation in the Arid West
April 2001, Medano-Zapata Ranch, Colorado


The primary goal of the first workshop was to review the underlying scientific framework for conservation at each of the focal landscapes, focusing in particular on the role of grazing as a conservation tool. Plenary talks were given on the role of grazing in the Conservancy (Bruce Runnels, TNC); the ecological effects of grazing (Charles Curtin, Arid Lands Project); and socio-economic issues in the arid West and how they relate to conservation of ranchlands (Richard Knight, Colorado State University).

Peer review sessions focused on two products developed by each of the focal landscape teams: (1)conceptual ecological models and (2)viability rankings. The homework assignment completed by the focal landscape teams is available for reference.

The peer review began with a presentation of the 5-S framework for each focal landscape (Great Sand Dunes, headwaters Ranch, Owyhee Canyonlands,and Zumwalt Prairie), including information on the conservation targets, stakeholders, threats, management strategies, and monitoring activities. Then, several breakout groups focused on two tasks:
  1. Review of the conceptual ecological model and identification of critical gaps in understanding based on system dynamics and threats.
  2. Review of the viability criteria for the conservation targets and recommendations for revisions.
A separate peer review session focused on providing feedback to representatives from the participating landscapes.

Finally, a half-day field trip to the Medano-Zapata Ranch, located in the Great Sand Dunes, illustrated various grazing (cattle and bison) management practices.

Thirty-one people participated in the workshop, including area-based practitioners; partners; and scientific experts from the Conservancy, Colorado State University; and the Arid lands Project. In all, 23 landscapes were represented. There were participants from 13 U.S. states. Every western state was represented, with the exception of Montana. The workshop summary highlights the best practices and lessons learned that were identified throughout the meeting.

Aridlands Grazing Workshop #2:
Conservation Strategies
November 2001, Boise, Idaho


The second workshop focused on identification of key conservation strategies that will effectively abate threats and achieve desired future landscape status. Plenary talks were given on (1)grazing as a tool for biodiversity conservation (Linda Hardesty, Washington State University); (2)grazing as a tool for managing exotic species (Karen Launchbaugh, University of Idaho); (3)grazing and restoration (Mike Pellant, BLM); and (4)strategies for conserving the entire portfolio (Bruce Runnels, TNC).

Peer review sessions focused on the diversity of conservation strategies being implemented by the focal landscapes. Breakout groups addressed the following questions:
  1. Is the desired future status of the target ecological system(s) realistic and achievable given the identified threats?
  2. What stresses are addressed by each conservation strategy, and does the strategy address key factors identified in the ecological model for the target system?
  3. Are strategies scaled appropriately to effectively abate identified threats? If not, can the strategies be "scaled up"?
The homework assignment completed by the focal landscape teams is available for reference.

Forty-one people participated in the workshop, including area-based practitioners; partners; and scientific experts from the Conservancy, the University of Idaho, USGS, Washington State University, BLM, the Arid Lands Project, and the Jornada Experimental Range. In all, 34 landscapes were represented. There were participants from 13 U.S. states. The workshop summary highlights the best practices and lessons learned that were identified throughout the workshop.

Aridlands Grazing Workshop #3:
Multi-Scale Monitoring Plans
May 20-23, 2002, Las Cruces, NM


The third workshop focused on development of effective, multi-scale monitoring programs that assess management activities and the success of conservation strategies. Plenary talks were given on (1)disturbance ecology in western landscapes (Guy McPherson, University of Arizona); (2)assessing rangeland integrity (Jeff Herrick, USDA Jornada Experimental Range); (3)measuring restoration success (Louis Provencher, TNC); and (4) the use of remote sensing technology in monitoring programs (Jon Hak, Oregon Natural Heritage Program, and Bob Unnasch, TNC).

Peer review sessions focused on the draft monitoring plans prepared by the focal landscape teams. The meeting also included an all-day field trip to the Conservancy's Headwaters Ranch project area. During the field trip participants developed a preliminary monitoring program for one of the systems in the project area.

Twenty-nine people participated in the workshop, including area-based practitioners; partners; and scientific experts from the Conservancy, the University of Arizona, the Arid Lands Project, and the Jornada Experimental Range. In all, 27 landscapes were represented. There were participants from 12 U.S. states.

Aridlands Grazing Workshop #4:
Collaborating with Partners
October 14-16, 2002, Joseph, OR


The fourth workshop focused on how to effectively work with partners to achieve conservation success in the arid West. The meeting included a half-day skill-building session on Collaborative Learning led by Steve Daniels, director of the Western Rural Development Center at Utah State University, and Gregg Walker, faculty member in the Department of Forest Resources at Oregon State University. Collaborative Learning is an adaptive decision-making approach that provides a framework for managing environmental conflicts through learning-based collaboration.

The homework assignments that the focal landscapes completed for this meeting focused on developing a framework or action plan for addressing a local issue requiring collaboration. Because the focal landscapes occur in very different socio-economic settings and have different conservation needs, the assignments were customized. There was also an optional assignment for the participating landscapes that involved a preliminary assessment of the potential for collaborative conservation in each landscape.

A half-day field trip to TNC's Zumwalt Prairie Preserve introduced workshop participants to the collaborative restoration and inventory efforts that the Conservancy and its county, federal, and private partners have undertaken in the region.

Thirty people participated in the workshop, including area-based field practitioners; experts in collaborative natural resource management; and senior scientists from the Conservancy. In addition, many of TNC's county, federal, and private partners from the local area participated in the field trip and the peer review session for the Zumwalt Prairie focal landscape. In all, 25 conservation areas were represented. There were participants from 10 U.S. states and Mexico.

Aridlands Grazing Workshop #5:
Controlling Invasive Species
April 22-24, 2003, Ely, Nevada


The fifth workshop focused on the assessment, prioritization, and management of invasive plants that degrade biodiversity in arid ecosystems. Plenary talks were given on a variety of topics, including:
  1. Adaptive management of invasive species threats (John Randall, TNC);
  2. Setting weed management priorites (Eric Lane, State of Colorado);
  3. A successful multi-county weed management program in northeastern Nevada (Bob Wilson, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension);
  4. Modeling techniques for identification of weed management issues and control strategies in the Eastern Nevada project area (Louis Provencher, TNC);
  5. Using remote sensing techniques to map invasive species in Hell's Canyon (Art Talsma and Jason Karl, TNC);
  6. A weed mapping and management database developed by The Nature Conservancy and Bureau of Land Management (Steve Buttrick, TNC); and
  7. Developing legislation for invasive species control (Will Whelan, TNC).
Breakout groups focused on a variety of issues, including creating and utilizing cooperative weed management areas, and planning and management of annual, biannual, and perennial weeds. Participants also discussed proposed amendments to the BLM's Grazing Administration Regulations.

The workshop included a half-day field trip that introduced participants to the weed management challenges in the Eastern Nevada project area.

Nearly 40 people participated in the meeting, including site-based field practitioners, partners, and weed management experts from the Conservancy's Global Invasive Species Initiative, the State of Colorado, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, the University of Wyoming, the USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range, and the Bureau of Land Management. In addition, many of TNC's agency and private partners from the local area participated in the field trip and portions of the workshop. There were participants from 12 U.S. states and Brazil.


Participating site information
Approximately fifty conservation areas have participated in both the WILN and its progenitor, the Aridlands Grazing Network. Here you can find detailed information about many of these conservation areas, including general descriptions and management tools (e.g., conceptual ecological models).

Additional network resources
Web sites and documents related to, produced by, or supporting the WILN.



Updated June 2006
©The Nature Conservancy, 2003