Sustainable Management of Natural Resources Specialist Areas

Research and Extension outreach in this program area lead to improved range and forest management techniques; improved water and soil management techniques; better appraisals of forest and range conditions for production of livestock forage, water yield, wildlife habitat, forest productivity, and reclamation activities; and better appraisals and remediation of water and soil. These, in turn, improve the economic performance and log-term protection and sustainability of New Mexico's natural resource base.

Work in this area focuses on agroforestry practices that intentionally combine trees or shrubs with crop or livestock operations, or use trees at the agriculture/community interface to help create more integrated, diverse, and sustainable farms, non-industrial forests, ranches, and rural communities. Agroforestry practices are designed to incorporate the use of trees into agricultural settings to accomplish social, economic, and environmental objectives. The main types of agroforestry include alley cropping, riparian buffers, forest farming, windbreaks / 0 shelterbelts, and silvopasture. Agroforestry practices often yield non-traditional tree and forest products such as mushrooms, boughs, medicinal plants, vines, and nuts.
Alternative Uses of Land
This area is concerned with evaluation of alternative uses of land to determine short- and long-term benefits. Changes in land use in response to population growth, urban and suburban growth, recreational needs, agricultural and other factors affecting the fixed supply of land are included in this area.
Appraisal of Soil Resources
Work in support of soil mapping is concerned with identifying the important soil parameters for use in crop production, site-specific management, forest and range resource evaluation, housing developments, zoning, waste management, environmental urban planning, and other land uses. Soil surveys can also be used to show soil characteristics such as spatial and temporal variability, susceptibility to frost heave or slippage, depth to water table, depth to rock or other impermeable barriers, bearing strength, flood hazard, and soil erosion potential that affect suitability of a site for specific uses.
Aquatic and Terrestrial Wildlife
This area focuses on invertebrate and vertebrate animal species that occur naturally in forest, range, and agricultural lands and waters, and marine environments. Work includes determining biological and ecological requirements of species, factors influencing population dynamics, interspecific relationships, methods for maintaining and enhancing habitats, and management approaches for sustaining wildlife harvests while maintaining population, species, and community viability.
Biogeochemical Ecosystems Studies
This area includes research integrating biological and geochemical functions of large-scale ecosystems.
Community Resource Planning and Development
Conservation and Efficient Use of Water
Work in this area attempts to increase efficiency in collecting, storing, conveying, using, and reusing available water resources.
Conservation of Biological Diversity
In a natural resources context, work on biological diversity (biodiversity) conservation focuses on the description, measurement, assessment, and management of plant and animal variation in nature. It includes diversity at the genetic, species, and ecosystem levels in forest, range, and agriculturally-influenced ecosystems. The objective is to preserve, enhance, and restore natural biodiversity to levels compatible with societal uses of natural resources.
Drainage and Irrigation Systems and Facilities
Water management, to include surface and subsurface drainage and all irrigation systems, is part of this work. Equipment, system design, theory, modeling, installation, operation, and maintenance of drainage and irrigation systems for more efficient use of land, water, and capital resources are included.
Ecosystem Studies
See Biogeochemical Ecosystem Studies (above) for description and details
Management and Control of Forest and Range Fires
Work in this area focuses on both wildfire and prescribed fire. It includes the development of new wildfire prevention methods, new technology for fuel hazard reduction, improved systems for wildfire prediction, detection, and effective attack and suppression technologies. Prescribed fire is used to maintain fire-dependent ecosystems without endangering resources and facilities. Work in this area focuses on where, when, and how to utilize prescribed fire.
Management and Sustainability of Forest Resources
Work in this area focuses on the biology of forest plants and trees; ecology of forest ecosystems; tree breeding; forest nursery practices; silvicultural techniques to improve and regenerate forest stands; and assessing, modeling, monitoring, and forecasting forest ecosystems. Forest resources include both wood and non-wood products, often referred to as non-timber forest products or special forest products. Sustainable forest management criteria and indicators are outlined in international protocols.
Management and Sustainability of Range Resources
This area includes work on biological processes and ecological relationships, improved range management techniques, and better appraisals of range conditions for production of livestock forage, water yield, and wildlife habitat.
Management of Saline and Sodic Soils and Salinity
This area is concerned with injurious accumulations of salts that may occur in the root zone of soil because salts move upward in the soil with water and are left behind as the water evaporates. Work in this area also concerns salts that can be leached downward to the groundwater or to a drainage system as the result of heavy rainfall or irrigation, as well as salinity and brackish water problems that may occur in seaboard areas.
Natural Resource and Environmental Economics
This work focuses on understanding economic relationships, decisions, and impacts relating to the management and use of public and private natural resources, and the environment. Work in this area also focuses on the economics of improving the efficiency of agricultural, forest, and rangeland use while minimizing negative impacts on the environment.
Outdoor Recreation
Work on outdoor recreation focuses on the management of lands for recreation and the coordination of this use with other land resources. It involves problems in management of physical resources, as well as socioeconomic relationships of users of the resources.
Pollution Prevention and Mitigation
Work in this area is concerned with preventing, alleviating, and mitigating pollution initiated by agricultural and forestry practices and its detrimental effects on agricultural plants, animals, soil, air, water, and humans. Potential pollutants include: organic pesticides, radio-nuclides, fertilizer chemicals, growth regulating chemicals, animal and crop wastes, mulching materials, pathogenic microorganisms, heavy metals, salts used on roads for de-icing, and allergens. This work focuses on agricultural production, not on health hazards to humans, which are covered in KA 723, Hazards to Human Health and Safety.
Soil, Plant, Water, and Nutrient Relationships
This knowledge area is concerned with the chemical and physical nature of interrelationships among soils, plants, water, and nutrients. The objective is to improve, maintain, or restore the inherent production capability of soils.
Structures, Facilities, and General Purpose Farm Supplies
Work includes the design, construction, and cost of facilities for animals, agricultural products, agricultural inputs, equipment, and other materials. The properties and behavior of animals, products, equipment, and materials while in various facilities and during transport or processing is a part of this work.
Urban Forestry
This work concentrates on the use of trees to improve or maintain the quality of urban and suburban environments and to enhance natural beauty through tree plantings. Tree plantings for special purposes include: visual screening, noise suppression, air quality improvement, shade, and beautification. Identification and development of species capable of living under adverse conditions such as smoke, air pollution, compacted soils, deficient or excessive moisture, and other unfavorable conditions associated with urban environments is included in this category.
Waste Disposal, Recycling, and Reuse
Work in this area includes all aspects of collecting, storing, transporting, treating, recycling, and utilizing waste products from agriculture, forestry, and other origins. The development of value-added or alternative products from waste products is included.
Water Policy Analysis
This area encompasses the legal and social impacts of water policies.
Watershed Production and Management
This area is intended to focus on soil and water management problems at whole watershed scales, as opposed to problems of more localized scale. These watersheds include the cropland of the U.S. as well as range and forest lands. Work in this area can encompass one or more of the following: flood prevention systems, sediment control, wind and water erosion control, and management strategies oriented toward water yield and quality.
Weather and Climate
Work on the impact of weather and climate on agriculture and natural resources focuses on three tasks: (1) characterize existing climatic patterns and propose more effective ways of adjusting to these patterns, (2) specify modifications in management approaches that are desirable to farm, forest and rangeland managers, and (3) learn how potential modifications affect agriculture or natural ecology.