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Southwest Climate Hub Bulletin

News and events for the Southwest Hub region

April 2020 

COVID-19 Resources

Various government agencies have published Coronavirus disease (COVID19) web resources. Most will connect you to the website which gives advice on how to prepare and protect yourself as well as further information on The CARES Act and financial support for small businesses. If you have USDA-related questions, we encourage you to visit the USDA Coronavirus website, which provides a comprehensive list of specific advice regarding the actions of different USDA departments in response to the pandemic. These include how to work with your local USDA Service Centers (for producers), measures implemented by Rural Development to help rural residents, businesses and communities impacted by COVID-19 and information about NIFA grant applications (for researchers and Extension).

Drought Learning Network

More than 30 resource managers and drought service providers convened in Las Cruces, New Mexico in February to envision a regional drought learning network. This project involves partnership with many service providers at the federal, state and local levels...  

Redesigning Desert Agriculture for Climate Change

Dr. Gary Nabhan of the University of Arizona spoke at New Mexico State University’s Climate Change Education Series. His discussion, Redesigning desert agriculture for climate change: biomimicry, nurse plant ecology & succulent plants, addressed how generating food systems around local desert vegetation can foster healthy, equitable, and food-sovereign communities. Read more >>

Sustainable Southwest Beef Project 

In January the Sustainable Southwest Beef Project team introduced the project to roughly 125 ranchers, feedlot operators and others connected to the beef cattle industry at the Southwest Beef Symposium. Producers from at least 26 counties across 7 states, including California, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas, completed a baseline survey that will help guide the project over the next five years. 

Are Springs Coming Earlier in the Southwest?

This year, much of Arizona, about half of New Mexico, and the southwestern third of Nevada are experiencing an early spring - in some areas two to three weeks early! However, there are also locations in northeast New Mexico and in Utah that are experiencing a later spring compared to the 1981-2010 average. Read more >>

LandPKS Mobile App: New Features 

LandPKS is a free mobile app that allows farmers, ranchers, gardeners and other land managers as well as K-12 and university students to easily identify their soil, access NRCS soil information, record their management and precipitation, and monitor soil health and vegetation. Learn more about the app and its new features here including a three-lesson module that engages students on fundamental land management topics. Read more >>

Technical Resources on ATTRA Website Free of Cost

ATTRA is the Sustainable Agriculture Program from the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT). NCAT has just announced that it is now providing all the technical resources on the ATTRA website at no cost. These resources include digital publications, videos, podcasts, and other resources and materials. They ask that users remember that they rely on private income to make ends meet and to consider a tax-deductible donation. Visit 

Climate reporting for the Southwest

We are currently in an ENSO-neutral status and forecasters estimate there will be about a 65% chance of an ENSO-neutral outlook for spring and to continue into summer. Read more about ENSO Tracker - March 2020, an analysis by CLIMAS (Climate Assessment for the Southwest). 

As of March 31, the one-month outlook for April shows a 33-50% chance for below-normal temperature for much of Utah and Nevada and an equal chance for normal temperatures for Arizona and New Mexico. There will be a 33-50% chance of above-normal precipitation for Utah and Nevada and an equal chance for precipitation for Arizona and New Mexico. As of March 19, the three-month outlook (Apr-May-Jun 2020) shows a 40-60% chance of above-normal temperatures for the southwestern U.S. There will be a 33-50% chance for below-normal precipitation for New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, and northeastern Arizona. These outlooks are created monthly by NOAA Climate Prediction Center and based on departures from the 1981-2010 base period. To view more short-term outlooks, please visit the NOAA's National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center.

1-month outlook

3-month outlook


Drought conditions remain in the Four Corners region, across Utah and have expanded into Nevada with drought conditions of D0-D2. In Hawaiʻi, drought conditions have expanded slightly on the Big Island when compared to a month ago using the U.S. Drought Monitor Map Comparison Slider. For a more detailed drought summary, visit the U.S. Drought Monitor website.  

For the seasonal drought outlook (March 19 - June 30, 2020), drought will persist in the Four Corners region and will to likely develop for the rest of Utah and Nevada. The outlook predicts drought removal likely in Hawaiʻi.


Online Training Adaptation Planning and Practices

Course begins April 20 - June 12, 2020

Climate Adaptation Training is being offered by the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science (NIACS). The NIACS Adaptation Workbook Process will be available by weekly recorded lectures that are 45 minutes long, small group discussion sessions that meet bi-weekly for an hour, and will take place from April 20 to June 12, 2020.
Register by April 15!

Job Opportunity: The USDA Climate Hubs Southern Plains Director

Position announcement is open until May 5, 2020. Please share with your networks. 

Grass-Cast Virtual Stakeholders Workshop

May 14, 2020, 9:00-11:30 AM MDT

A major challenge to successful management of livestock production in the western U.S. is accurately predicting forage production. Extremely variable weather can dramatically affect the production and availability of forage for livestock use. Overestimating forage production can result in overgrazing, reducing livestock performance and risking land degradation. Underestimating forage production can reduce herd-level economic performance and may create conditions that favor invasive plant establishment or create high fuel loads.

Grass-Cast, a grassland productivity forecast for livestock producers, Extension, FSA, NRCS, and other rangeland managers, is expanding to New Mexico and Arizona in May 2020. The forecast of annual production will be updated every two weeks beginning in May 2020.

Please join us online for a stakeholder workshop designed to better understand the region’s livestock grazing systems and drought management strategies, introduce Grass-Cast to resource managers, debut the 2020 maps and seek feedback to improve production and delivery of the maps.

To register, please contact Lauren Kramer (

Understanding Regional Linkages Between Production Agriculture, Air Quality, and Climate
May 18, 2020 2:00 PM MDT

Dr. Dave DuBois, New Mexico State Climatologist, will present the results of a national air quality and production agriculture synthesis focused on expected impacts in a changing climate. Dr. DuBois will synthesize and present the current state of knowledge regarding air quality impacts on production agriculture, and vice-versa, within the context of weather conditions and a changing climate.

Funding Opportunities

Tribal Colleges Extension Program: Special Emphasis, NIFA
Award Ceiling: $400,000
Deadline: April 30, 2020

Tribal Colleges Research Grants Program, NIFA
Award Ceiling: $500,000
Deadline: April 30, 2020

Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program, AMS
Award Ceiling: $250,000
Deadline: May 11, 2020

Notice of Funding Opportunity for NRCS’s Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials (On-Farm Trials) for Federal fiscal year (FY) 2020, NRCS
Award Ceiling: $5,000,000
Deadline: May 11, 2020

Local Food Promotion Program
Award Ceiling: $500,000
Deadline: May 26, 2020

Regional Food System Partnerships, AMS
Award Ceiling: $1,000,000
Deadline: May 26, 2020

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Education and Workforce Development, NIFA
Estimated Total Program Funding: $49,000,000
Deadline: September 25, 2020

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative - Foundational and Applied Science, NIFA
Estimated Total Program Funding: $192,600,000
Deadline: Multiple deadlines for Letter of Intent, November 18, 2020


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