Integrated Site Design for the Restoration of Military Lands

Affiliation(s) PI/CoPI Funded by
DEES McDonald, Eric
Caldwell, Todd
Contract: N68711-03-C-6621
ITAM and the Natural Resources Support Team, Southwest Division Navy Facilities Engineering Command

Collaborators: Integrated Training Area Management (ITAM) San Diego State University, Soil Ecology and Restoration Group (SERG)

Keywords: Mojave, restoration, revegetation, military, NTC, arid, soil moisture

Project Description

One of the critical challenges of the Department of Defense (DoD) is maintaining sustainability of military installations while maximizing their use for military activities. To that end, the Integrated Training Area Management (ITAM) program was established to assess and quantify land conditions and develop strategies for rehabilitation.

In response to this need, the NTC-ITAM program established the following key objective "to incorporate the best available soil and hydrologic information at the project planning phase to enhance the effectiveness of rehabilitation efforts to better support sustainable training at NTC, Fort Irwin."

Meeting this objective requires an integrated approach combining realistic characterization of essential soil physical and hydrologic attributes with Land Rehabilitation and Maintenance (LRAM) activities to increase the effectiveness of soil and plant restoration efforts.

Field investigations were conducted at two 10-acre rehabilitation sites (a geomorphically young and old soil surface) to document and map soil disturbance, plan restoration activities and evaluate restoration effectiveness. Soil disturbance polygons were identified and mapped within each site to delineate differences in disturbance level, soil type and texture, hydrologic characterization, vegetation density, and species composition. The site design was developed to evaluate restoration practices applicable to both the young and old surfaces using seven demonstration plots utilizing numerous techniques and irrigation treatments. Characterization data for each demonstration polygon was used to evaluate both surface treatments and irrigation strategies using a soil-water balance model.

Research Image Gallery

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Below: The photograph of the soil profiles exposed at the Young Site under medium impact (YMH1) and high impact (YHM1) soil polygons. Upper two soil horizons (Ap1, Ap2) have been impacted by vehicles resulting in compaction and soil mixing. The Arizo soil (c) shows an example of an undisturbed soil, especially the large root-rich crown that commonly underlies the Larrea canopy.

Young Site under medium impact (YMH1) and high impact (YHM1) soil polygons Arizo soil (c) shows an example of an undisturbed soil

Below: The photographs of high impact polygons at the Old Site where visible track scars cover about 60-80% of the soil surface, including several that are > 5 cm deep (a). Although many root crowns can be identified, most do not have active plants (b).

The Old Site

Below: Nearly 250 mm of precipitation in 2005 led to a dramatic increase in vegetative cover as observed in this before and after photo

Nearly 250 mm of precipitation in 2005 led to a dramatic increase in vegetative cover as observed in this before and after photo Nearly 250 mm of precipitation in 2005 led to a dramatic increase in vegetative cover as observed in this before and after photo

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