Educational Video on Watershed Management Practices for Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystems

1995 Annual Report for EW95-001

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 1995: $24,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/1997
Matching Federal Funds: $14,000.00
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $1,000.00
Region: Western
State: New Mexico
Principal Investigator:
Howard Shanks
South Central Resource Cons

Educational Video on Watershed Management Practices for Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystems


1. To educate land managers, including ranchers, federal and state agency personnel about the various treatment methods and tools utilized to effectively manage pinyon-juniper ecosystems for sustained use.
2. To promote good stewardship of rangeland watersheds by demonstrating proper management techniques and environmental protection measures.
3. To provide a supplemental documentary to the initial video, "Fire and Water: Restoring a Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem," which detailed the successful approach utilized in the Carrizo Demonstration Area to manage this rangeland ecosystem.

The Lincoln National Forest in south central New Mexico has implemented a demonstration project called the Carrizo Demonstration Area, designed to restore and sustain watersheds, increase natural food production for wildlife and livestock and increase biological diversity by managing the area based on ecological principles. The commitment to restore our rangeland watersheds depends on well-educated people who will make the right choices. This project will involve producing and distributing a 15- to 20-minute video that will document effective treatments, tools and best management practices utilized in the Carrizo project to manage pinyon-juniper watersheds.

Much of the pinyon-juniper woodland in the southwest does not meet our expectations for a healthy ecosystem. Approximately 3.5 million acres, or about 35 percent of the pinyon-juniper ecosystem on national forests in Arizona and New Mexico, are considered to be in unsatisfactory soil and watershed condition, based on surface erosion rates, gully erosion and soil compaction. Other indicators of ecosystem health that frequently do not meet our description of desired condition in the pinyon-juniper woodlands are declining vegetation and animal diversity, poor species composition and reduced site productivity. Some areas have passed a threshold whereby natural processes such as grass competition and fire can no longer function to maintain successional trends in a desired direction. Dense stands of pinyon-juniper are less drought tolerant and have increased susceptibility to insect attacks.

Restoring pinyon-juniper woodlands to healthy ecological condition is essential for resolving issues of water quality and availability, biological diversity, forest health, riparian conditions and wildlife habitat and livestock grazing capability.

The basis for this video is a publication produced by the USDA Forest Service, Southwestern Region entitled "Watershed Management Practices for Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystems" (August, 1993). This publication outlines various practices, research findings and recommendations for managing pinyon-juniper watersheds. In addition, this video would supplement another recently published video, "Fire and Water: Restoring a Pinyon-Juniper Ecosystem," developed in collaboration with the South Central Mountain Resource Conservation and Development Council, New Mexico State University Agriculture Communications Department and the USDA Forest Service through a grant from the Administrative Council of the Western Region’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program. "Fire and Water" details the successful ecological approach to multiple-use management utilized in the Carrizo Demonstration Area, but does not answer the questions of when, where and how to utilize all the various management practices. The Watershed Management Practices video will serve as an invaluable training tool for land managers to properly implement the treatments to restore and sustain their rangeland watersheds.

A video entitled "Restoring the Promise" was produced with the assistance of New Mexico State University Ag Information Department, Las Cruces, New Mexico. A considerable amount of time and effort was dedicated to this project to insure accurate depiction of watershed conditions before and after treatments and to present reasonable alternatives in achieving watershed restoration. It is a professionally produced video and NMSU is to be commended for their performance. The technical aspects of the video reflect the expertise of Dick Edwards, USDA Forest Service, Ruidoso, NM, in dealing with watershed restoration in pinyon-juniper watersheds. Jan Brydon, a professional script writer, is acknowledged and appreciated for her contributions.

The South Central Mountain RC&D Council will insure coordination with all major participants involved with this project. The video will have a wide distribution and the main target audiences will be ranchers and public land managers. The main vehicle for distributing the videos will be the County Extension Offices, National Forest Ranger Districts, Bureau of Land Management District Offices, Bureau of Indian Affairs Offices and NRCS offices. We anticipate providing 500 copies of the video to be distributed as follows:
New Mexico County Extension Offices
National Forests & Ranger Districts in Arizona and New Mexico
Regional Forester’s Offices nationwide
Bureau of Land Management Districts in Arizona and New Mexico
Bureau of Indian Affairs offices in Arizona and New Mexico
NRCS offices including local Soil and Water Conservation Districts
State Extension Services Offices
Public Television Stations
Western Region SARE Program Contacts
Other State and Federal Agencies

Potential Benefits
The impact of this video will be reflected in actual on-ground application of the principles and practices demonstrated in the video. When land managers see first-hand the successful treatments employed in the Carrizo Demonstration Area, it is expected that they will utilize or adopt these methods to fit their particular situation.

Another benefit of this video will be in the increased awareness by students, professors, land users, agencies and the general public of the complex issues involved in watershed restoration and holistic resource management in pinyon-juniper watersheds.
Reactions from Trainees and Ranchers

It is too early to evaluate the impacts of this video on students, trainers, etc.; however, based on feedback from the first video, "Fire and Water," we feel the impacts will be similar and very positive. Specifically, professors at Texas Tech University, Brigham Young University, New Mexico State University and University of Texas are using the video as part of their classroom instruction. The video was also used at conferences, meetings, etc.

There has been considerable positive feedback from local ranchers. Most ranchers are aware of the benefits in watershed restoration and would be willing to implement practices to improve watershed health if it were less expensive.

New Hypothesis and Future Recommendations
Videos such as this one need more exposure. Although it deals specifically with pinyon-juniper issues, it utilizes principles that apply to all ecosystems. The use of public television, satellite downlink, Internet and other media would provide a broader exposure.
Reported in 1998