Great Basin Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit

About the Great Basin CESU

The GB-CESU encompasses the Great Basin region including portions of five states: Nevada, California, Idaho, Oregon and Utah.  The CESU is hosted by the University of Nevada, Reno. The GB-CESU is now a partnership among 14 universities, nine federal agencies and one non-profit.  Members of the GB-CESU are:  University of Nevada, Reno, Oregon State University, University of Idaho, Idaho State University, Boise State University, Utah State University, University of Utah, Brigham Young University, Great Basin College, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Desert Research Institute, Ball State University, California State University – Fresno and Texas A&M University, Kingsville, Bureau of Land Management, Department of Defense, USDA Forest Service Research, National Park Service, Agricultural Research Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Bureau of Reclamation, US Geological Survey – Biological Resources Division, and Hawkwatch International.  The GB-CESU also has several designated cooperators including state agencies, tribes and NGOs. 

The host institution provides leadership and administrative support for the GB-CESU in conducting a program of research, technical assistance and educational activities in partnership with GB-CESU members.

Critical Needs and CESU Program Elements

The growing concern regarding ecosystem health in the Great Basin has been clearly outlined by the Bureau of Land Management in two publications - "Out of Ashes, An Opportunity" in November, 1999, and "The Great Basin: HealingThe Land" in April, 2000. The BLM Great Basin Restoration Initiative (GBRI) was launched based on the problems and issues documented in these publications. The needs addressed in these publications proved foundational for the work of the GB-CESU. Additional interests and partnerships have continued to focus attention on the Great Basin. The Great Basin Research and Management Partnership (GBLMP-- and the Great Basin Landscape Conservation Cooperative (GBLCC-- are subsequent programs that draw attention to the important issues being faced in the Great Basin. Currently the GBRI, GBCESU, GBRMP, GBEP and GBLCC collaborate in the Great Basin Consortium, an informal collaboration among partner organizations working in the Great Basin. Protection of wildlife and habitats, restoration of range and forest lands, their ecosystems and their health, management of waterresources, economic health and stability of rural economies and their industries, and enhancing our understanding, appreciation and preservation of historic cultural resources pose major challenges to land management agencies in the Great Basin. Encompassing all these concerns are three overarching, transcendent themes that form the root causes of virtually all contemporary concerns and issues. They are:

  • The rapid transformation of ecosystems and loss of associated plant and animal species across the region.
  • The inability of users, managers, and the general public to agree on what the causal factors are driving these ecosystem changes and the lack of agreement on prudent courses of action or solutions to the resulting problems.
  • The contrast between the scales of time and space at which Great Basin ecosystems actually operate, versus the much more limited scales of time and space at which most people view them, use them, and attempt to manage them.

The ecological health and resiliency of many important components ofthe Great Basin are clearly in jeopardy. Attachment A to this Strategic Plan provides a detailed description of priority research, technical assistance and education themes of concern to all partners and cooperators in the GB-CESU for 2011-2016. A special emphasis will be placed on developing CESU projects across multiple university and agency partners to address critical needs of the region.

Strategic Goals  

University and agency partners and cooperators of the GB-CESU will collaborate to address the critical needs identified in Attachment A in coordination with the national CESU network. The following strategic goals will guide the actions of the GB-CESU until August 2016 when the GB-CESU agreement will be up for renewal.  These goals complement the GB-CESU objectives and provide a vision and framework for a proactive CESU in the Great Basin.

  • Cooperate and foster efficient collaborative pathways to aid in the development and implementation of high quality research, education and technical assistance projects.
  • Increase engagement of university researchers in federal agency projects and improve the relevancy of research in addressing management needs by ensuring that: 1) federal agency research, technical assistance and education needs are clearly articulated and communicated to university partnersin a timely fashion; and 2) federal managers remain aware of available university expertise and resources to apply to federal projects.
  • Seek opportunitiesfor all GB-CESU university and agency partnersto be active participants in CESU projects.
  • Provide encouragement for the development and implementation of effective multi-institution and multi-agency collaborations among GB-CESU partners to address the critical needs identified in Attachment B.
  • Facilitate application of scientific results to land management by ensuring that results and outcomes of GB-CESU projects are made available to CESU partners and others through high visibility outreach programs.
  • Maximize effectiveness of the GB-CESU partnership by integrating CESU projects and activities with other scientific programs and collaborations in the Great Basin as part of the Great Basin Consortium
  • Facilitate opportunities for student research, internships and education that are pertinent to the needs of management and research agencies.
  • Develop funding to enhance GB-CESU administrative support for the above activities.


2011-2016 Cooperative and Joint Venture Agreement

General Process for Addition of New Partners to the GB-CESU