Biodiversity Analysis of Vegetation on the Nevada Test Site Page: 3 of 20
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to 23 cm (9 in) at the higher elevations. About 60 percent of this precipitation occurs from September
through March. Winter precipitation frequently occurs as snow, which persists in northern Yucca Flat
and to the north. Higher mountains commonly are snow-covered much of the winter. Snow seldom
persists for more than a few hours in the southern valleys.
Although the NTS was used for nuclear testing from 1951 to 1992, only about 7 percent of the
site has been disturbed (U.S. Department of Energy 1996a). Despite drastic changes to localized areas
due to nuclear testing, biological resources over much of the NTS remain relatively pristine and
undisturbed. The abuses of overgrazing by livestock, land degradation due to uncontrolled recreational
uses, industrial pollution, and other disturbances common to public lands have been minor or absent on
the NTS. Protection of its biological resources has been strengthened by U.S. Department of Energy
Policy 430.1 (U.S. Department of Energy 1996b) which mandated that land management practices
incorporate ecosystem management principles. U.S. Department of Energy is also working to preserve
viable populations of native plants and animals as stated in its Resource Management Plan for the NTS
(U. S. Department of Energy 1998).
Before resources can be effectively managed and preserved, they must first be identified and
described. Vegetation classification and mapping are among the first steps in implementing ecosystem
management on the NTS. Inventories and spatial mapping are useful tools to ensure that sensitive
species and habitats including areas of high biodiversity are adequately described, located, and
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Ostler, W. K. & Hansen, D. J. Biodiversity Analysis of Vegetation on the Nevada Test Site, article, June 1, 2001; Nevada. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc739605/m1/3/: accessed October 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.