The Colorado Plateau is a desertic area that has grown in the eyes of researches in the past years. It is very remote and rough, and it was used for many different purposes in the past. The crescent popularity of this region created a demand for policy decisions, management, and general administration, and that is only possible to do with scientific information to guide these decisions.
The CRS – Canyonlands Research Station was created for that purpose, ad it is a conjunction of federal agencies, local governments, and research local universities. They all aim for a long-term agreement and partnership and aspire to understand the ecological characteristics of this region.
This is a huge area with over 400,000 hectares available for research. The landscape is very erosional, and over a quarter of it is exposed to sandstone. Canyons are prone to slopes and dips, usually alternated with non-eroded walls and benches. The climate varies so much it is one of the favorite fields of research for the CRS.
Rains throughout the year go from 200mm to 750mm and in the winter snow is not uncommon. Summer is filled with thunderstorms, but all that can also vary from year to year. The coldest temperatures are reported to be -12, and the highest 38 degrees celsius. Elevation, months, topography, year – all that influences and changes this erratic climate.
Soils vary from deep to shallow and from rocky to glacial. The Colorado Plateau is mainly located in a sedimentary environment, a very ancient formation. Vegetation is not scarce, and plants like salt bushes, rabbitbrush, Indian ricegrass, and greasewood can all be found among the elevations.
One of the interesting things about the Plateau is that it is a converging area between the hot deserts, rocky mountains, great plains and basins meet. That means you can find animals from all these landscapes. It is such a diverse environment that is home to a diverse and abundant fauna. Research and inventory of all this flora and fauna are some of the objectives of the CRS.
The conditions for research are ample and allow for analysis of many different fields. CRS is currently studying the land and difference of gradient among the soil samples that were used for different purposes. It also studies the fluctuation in climate and temperature, precipitation patterns and much more. This is a raw area with almost incalculable research potential, not to mention the need for deciphering. CRS hopes to achieve a lot while based there.
Here are some additional guides on Soilcrust.org