Since 1540, the Middle Rio Grande Basin (MRGB) has been impacted by growing human populations, introduction of new plant and animal species, and changes in land and water use. These factors have threatened the conditions and diversity of native grasslands, shrublands, woodlands, and forests of the Basin. Because the MRGB is increasingly subject to urbanization and development, the RMRS Albuquerque Lab is seeking ways to sustain both human populations and natural resources in the Basin. To accomplish this goal, the Middle Rio Grande Ecosystem Management Unit (MRG EMU) is conducting research on three major problem areas. RMRS Albuquerque Lab is researching the effects of drought, grazing, and fire exclusion on the MRGB ecosystem. We are also looking at how other disturbances such as fuel removal, climate change, and plant or bark beetle invasions affect the stability, productivity, biological diversity, and sustainability of upland ecosystems. Specifically, we are:
- developing information about the relationships between drought, bark beetle outbreaks, and piñon mortality.
- determining the effects of drought, tree thinning, and grazing in restoring ecosystems.
- determining methods for controlling invasive and woody plants and restoring ecosystems.
- exploring ways to resolve the social issues related to drought, fire, invasive plant species, and grazing.
We are determining the effects of such management practices as reducing fire risk, controlling invasive plants, and restoring ecosystem function along the MRG and its tributaries on water quantity, native and non-native plant and animal species, and other ecosystem components. Specifically, we are:
- improving understanding of the effects of disturbances on aquatic habitats and fish populations.
- improving understanding how removal of bosque invasive species and fuels affects ecosystems and terrestrial animals and sustains biological diversity.
- researching the social implications of water and urban forest use and resource management.
We will create state-of-the-art publications, regional assessments, symposia and proceedings, databases, computer programs, and other science-based products to support sustaining natural resources and human populations in the MRGB. We want to provide general information on MRGB ecosystems that will be easily accessible to Basin users.
The Middle Rio Grande Basin Research Report contains further information about the Forest Service's research and conservation efforts in this riparian ecosystem.
Maps of the area from US Fish and Wildlife Service.