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Table 1 Descriptions of management responses to VTC from workshop participants along with case study examples

From: Vegetation type conversion in the US Southwest: frontline observations and management responses

Management response Description Case study examples
Reverse change Actively try to reverse change via:
• Coupled thinning and prescribed fire treatments to reduce fuel loads and fire severity and promote fire-dependent species and ecosystem recovery (Stephens et al. 2009)
• Planting or seeding pre-VTC species
• Removing or managing new or undesirable species (e.g., non-native grasses and shrubs that may increase fire frequency and/or severity)
• Fire suppression to reduce fire extent and allow for recovery time
• Preventing post-disturbance soil loss to sustain ecological functions
1. Klamath Reservation, southern Oregon
2. Southern Front Range, Colorado
3. Laguna Mountain, California
Observe change Take no active intervention measures and adopt monitoring to assess ecosystem trajectory over time. This approach may be most appropriate where there is:
• Limited management capacity (e.g., high upfront and maintenance costs of active intervention, limitations to access in sites such as those in wilderness or roadless lands) (Rother et al. 2015; Aplet and Mckinley 2017)
• High uncertainty of unintended consequences of active intervention (e.g., one workshop participant noted that “sometimes doing something is worse than doing nothing”) (Landres 2010). This approach is consistent with restoration paradigms emphasizing a spectrum of approaches to spread risk (Aplet and Mckinley 2017).
4. Eastern Jemez Mountains, New Mexico
5. Devils Postpile National Monument, California
6. Lassen Volcanic National Park, California
7. San Juan Mountains, Colorado
8. Inner Coast Range, northern California
Facilitate change Actively direct system toward alternative and/or novel acceptable conditions by:
• Planting or seeding with focus on more drought- and fire-tolerant species compared to pre-disturbance species (e.g., assisted gene flow; Young et al. 2020)
• Follow-up wildfires with ecologically-credible fuel reduction activities
9. North Rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona
10. Southern Sierra Nevada, California
11. Pinaleño Mountains, Arizona