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Co-producing landscape scale vulnerability assessments

Date: August 17, 2016

Developing and applying a framework for integrating diverse spatial data representing threats and issues for coldwater fish, riparian corridors, pinyon-juniper and sagebrush ecosystems and elk/mule deer in the Four Corners and Upper Rio Grande Regions

Map showing final vulnerability classifications for pinyon-juniper in watersheds in the Four Corners and Upper Rio Grande landscapes.
Final vulnerability classifications for pinyon-juniper in watersheds in the Four Corners and Upper Rio Grande landscapes.

Successful management of natural and cultural resources needs to account for increasing stress due to climate change, wildfire, and anthropogenic disturbance and requires collaborative processes to identify effective strategies at landscape scales. Recognizing this need, the SRLCC is implementing a landscape conservation design framework to develop data and tools for use during land management planning, with relevance to multiple stakeholder groups. Rocky Mountain Research Station (RMRS) scientists have partnered with the SRLCC to provide expertise and analytical data products to use towards this effort.

RMRS joined with the SRLCC to develop science and tools that address partner identified needs for management at the landscape scale. As part of this effort, adaptation forums were held to deliver and develop relevant science and decision support tools for practitioners based on previous and ongoing SRLCC projects. In addition, the SRLCC solicited feedback from forum participants on pressing needs and questions related to the management of locally significant resources. Equipped with this information, RMRS developed spatially explicit vulnerability assessments and associated data products for select conservation targets to assist landscape planning efforts within two geographic focus areas.


  • This project produced 4 vulnerability assessment reports covering 5 focal areas: Coldwater fish and riparian corridors, sagebrush ecosystems, pinyon-juniper ecosystems and elk/mule deer.
  • Products were developed with feedback by local land managers gathered through a series of adaptation forums and results communicated through two webinars series and 20 in-person presentations given at adaptation forums, SRLCC science committee meetings, and regional workshops and meetings.
  • Assessments resulted in 25 maps for each focal area and over 60 datasets representing indicators of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity. These data can be used to generate additional assessments for other targets in these areas or be modified to create assessments tailored to specific manager concerns or needs.
  • The framework developed guides the integration of diverse data in such a way that to address multiple user needs regarding threats arising from climate change, land use trends, and landscape characteristics.

Additional Information

See below for workshop reports, webinars recordings and final reports.


Adaptation Forums were held for each landscape to identify the issues and resources most relevant to local land managers. The first round, held in 2016, was facilitated by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program.  The purpose of these forums was to identify targets of importance and the final report can be found here:

The second set, held in 2017, were facilitated by SRLCC and RMRS. These forums were preceded by a webinar series that presented preliminary results of vulnerability assessments and were designed to get feedback from participants to customize the assessment products. In addition, presentations and activities introduced the process for developing adaptation strategies based on assessment findings. See the final report here:


Prior to the second adaptation forum workshop, preliminary assessment results were presented in a series of webinars. Links to the webinar recordings are available below:

Final reports and associated data

Final reports and spatial data for the assessments can be found here:

Or PDFs of the final reports can also be found here:

Interactive PDFs are also available for each assessment with the exception of elk and mule deer.


Principal Investigators: 
Forest Service Partners: 
Deborah Finch, Collaborator
Dave Hawksworth, Technician
Max Smith, Technician
External Partners: 
John Rice, SRLCC Science Coordinator, Bureau of Reclamation,
Kevin Johnson, SRLCC Coordinator, Fish and Wildlife Service,
Mary Williams, Nez Perce Tribe
Tzeidle Wasserman, Northern Arizona University
Stephanie Mueller, Northern Arizona University
Colorado Natural Heritage Program

Research Location: 
Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah