Development of a grazing monitoring program for Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado

Open-File Report 2015-1136
By:  and 

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Abstract

National parks in the United States face the difficult task of managing natural resources within park boundaries that are influenced to a large degree by historical land uses or by forces outside of the park’s protection and mandate. Among the many challenges faced by parks is management of wildlife populations that occupy larger landscapes than individual park units but that concentrate within park lands both seasonally and opportunistically. Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in south-central Colorado is currently developing an Ungulate Management Plan to address management of elk and bison populations within the park. Execution of the Ungulate Management Plan will require monitoring and assessment of habitat conditions in areas that appear sensitive to ungulate use or heavily used by elk and bison. Several sources of information on the various habitats within the park and their use and response to foraging elk and bison exist from recent and on-going research in Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve as well as from studies in other regions of the Intermountain West. All of this data can be used to inform the planning process. This report provides background on vegetation types that make up the primary bison and elk ranges in Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve and on the potential effects of ungulate grazing and browsing in these specific vegetation communities (both locally and regionally). The report also provides a review of the elements necessary to develop a long-term monitoring program for Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve that addresses both the responses to ungulate herbivory seen in important habitats in the park and the amount and patterns of ungulate habitat use.

Suggested Citation

Zeigenfuss, L.C., and Schoenecker, K.A., 2015, Development of a grazing monitoring program for Great Sand Dunes National Park: U.S. Geological Survey, Open-File Report 2015–1136, 44 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20151136.

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Study Area
  • Vegetation Communities and Existing Data
  • Design of an Ungulate-Vegetation Monitoring Program
  • Conclusion
  • Acknowledgments
  • References Cited

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Development of a grazing monitoring program for Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2015-1136
DOI 10.3133/ofr20151136
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description v, 44 p.
Country United States
State Colorado
Other Geospatial Great Sand Dunes National Park
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N