At the center stage of the Eastern Arizona Strip, the majestic Vermilion Cliffs embrace the gnarled piñon and juniper trees, shifting sand dunes, and swirling bands of colored sandstone of the Paria Plateau. As part of Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, the Paria Plateau boasts uncommonly high biological diversity and significant cultural resources. The plateau is at the center of the effort to reintroduce the endangered California condor in Arizona and is home to the desert bighorn sheep and over twenty species of raptors.
The Paria Plateau is one of the most ecologically-intact areas of the ranches, this is due, in part, to the lack of natural water sources and rugged terrain which precluded grazing access prior to the 1960’s. Our work on the Paria Plateau centers on maintaining these conditions as well as efforts to clarify and formalize support for management that is consistent with the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument’s designation proclamation.
The Bureau of Land Management is interested in maintaining and protecting the ecological and cultural resources across the Paria Plateau, and we are assisting them by practicing ecologically sustainable livestock management and by adding capacity for research, assessment and monitoring through our restoration and volunteer programs, and the Kaibab Vermilion Cliffs Heritage Alliance. Our ecological assessment work in 2005 and 2008 is providing a foundation for establishing baseline ecological conditions across the plateau and we are continuing research related to cheatgrass spread and modeling conditions in piñon-juniper woodlands. Meanwhile, volunteers with the Kaibab Vermilion Cliffs Heritage Alliance have assisted BLM staff with surveying and documenting baseline information at archaeological sites across the Plateau.