Conference held to protect largest U.S. Desert

University of Nevada, Reno professors and researchers participate in the annual Great Basin Consortium Conference

Conference held to protect largest U.S. Desert

University of Nevada, Reno professors and researchers participate in the annual Great Basin Consortium Conference

The Great Basin Desert is the largest U.S. desert spanning 200,000 square miles. University of Nevada, Reno researchers and professors are attending the annual Great Basin Consortium Conference being held this week, Feb. 17-19, at Boise State University. They are speaking on topics such as dry land restoration, water in the Great Basin and climate. 

"University of Nevada, Reno faculty and students to have an excellent opportunity to network with colleagues from other universities, federal agencies, private organizations and tribal partners at this year's event," Maureen McCarthy, director of the Great Basin Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Union and executive director of the academy for the environment, said. "This meeting is an outstanding venue for researchers and ecosystem managers to create new opportunities for science to inform the management of critical ecosystems of the Great Basin in a changing climate." 

The Great Basin Desert is one-of-four U.S, deserts that spans the majority of Nevada and extends into the states of California, Oregon, Utah and Idaho. The mission of the Great Basin Consortium is to increase communication and coordination among the six partner organizations that make up the consortium in order to enhance the effectiveness of their research, management, outreach and funding activities.

The Great Basin Consortium works to achieve a sustainable and resilient ecosystem in the Great Basin. The consortium is comprised of the Great Basin Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Union, the Great Basin Environmental Program, the Great Basin Landscape Conservation Cooperation, the Great Basin Restoration Initiative, the Great Basin Research and Management Partnership and the Great Basin Fire Science Exchange.

"This year's Great Basin Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Union meeting will be focused on working with all Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Union partners to expand the awareness of the organization among university researchers and to enhance our ability to make science more accessible to our federal partners to enhance ecosystem management," McCarthy said.

The restoration of dry sites is an important issue that will be discussed at the conference. Associate Professor in the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources, Elizabeth Leger, will be speaking about using field experiments to identify the most success strategies for establishing native grass seedlings in the driest sites. Oral Presentation sessions such these will better inform the conference attendees about the hazards to the environment and the action being taken to protect the Great Basin.

The Great Basin Fire Science Exchange works to provide Great Basin land managers with access to fire science information as well as a forum where land managers can identify technical needs in regards to fire, fuels and post fire vegetation management. Eugenie MontBlanc, the Great Basin Fire Science Exchange Coordinator at the University, will present the update for the Fire Science Exchange Project at the conference. 

"There will be around 200 people at the conference mainly environmentalists from around the Great Basin," Stan Johnson, the director of the Great Basin Environmental Program, said. 

The Great Basin Environmental Program's role is to develop funding for projects, related research and outreach education to improve the Great Basin environment. According to Johnson, the organization focuses on agriculture in the Great Basin particularly late season cattle grazing in regards to cheat grass and piñon and juniper pine in the lower lands. Johnson will be giving the organizational update for the Great Basin Environmental Program at the conference.

For more information and a complete list of speakers at the conference, visit http://environment.unr.edu/consortium/.

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