A vegetation mapping and characterization effort was conducted at Fort Bowie National Historic Site in 2008-10 by the Sonoran Desert Network office in collaboration with researchers from the Office of Arid lands studies, Remote Sensing Center at the University of Arizona. This vegetation mapping effort was completed under the National Park Service Vegetation Inventory program which aims to complete baseline mapping inventories at over 270 national park units. The vegetation map data was collected to provide park managers with a digital map product that met national standards of spatial and thematic accuracy, while also placing the vegetation into a regional and even national context. Work comprised of three major field phases 1) concurrent field-based classification data collection and mapping (map unit delineation), 2) development of vegetation community types at the National Vegetation Classification alliance or association level and 3) map accuracy assessment. Phase 1 was completed in late 2008 and early 2009. Community type descriptions were drafted to meet the then-current hierarchy (version 1) of the National Vegetation Classification System (NVCS) and these were applied to each of the mapped areas. This classification was developed from both plot level data and censused polygon data (map units) as this project was conducted as a concurrent mapping and classification effort. The third stage of accuracy assessment completed in the fall of 2010 consisted of a complete census of each map unit and was conducted almost entirely by park staff. Following accuracy assessment the map was amended where needed and final products were developed including this report, a digital map and full vegetation descriptions. Fort Bowie National Historic Site covers only 1000 acres yet has a relatively complex landscape, topography and geology. A total of 16 distinct communities were described and mapped at Fort Bowie NHS. These ranged from lush riparian woodlands lining the ephemeral washes dominated by Ash (Fraxinus), Walnut (Juglans) and Hackberry (Celtis) to drier upland sites typical of desert scrub and semi-desert grassland communities. These shrublands boast a diverse mixture of shrubs, succulents and perennial grasses. In many places the vegetation could be seen to echo the history of the fort site, with management of shrub encroachment apparent in the grasslands and the paucity of trees evidence of historic cutting for timber and fire wood. Seven of the 16 vegetation types were ‘accepted’ types within the NVC while the others have been described here as specific to FOBO and have proposed status within the NVC. The map was designed to facilitate ecologically-based natural resources management and research. The map is in digital format within a geodatabase structure that allows for complex relationships to be established between spatial and tabular data, and makes accessing the product easy and seamless. The GIS format allows user flexibility and will also enable updates to be made as new information becomes available (such as revised NVC codes or vegetation type names) or in the event of major disturbance events that could impact the vegetation.
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Federal Government Series
Vegetation inventory, mapping, and classification report, Fort Bowie National Historic Site