Crust course coming

  Although they resemble bits of black rubber, clumps of lumpy soil crust found throughout the arid West prevent erosion. This slow-growing community of microscopic plants, however, is feeling the effects of cattle grazing, off-road vehicles and outdoor recreation. Next month, the Bureau of Land Management will sponsor an intensive training course on the biology and ecology of cryptogamic, or microbiotic, crust, now known as "biological soil crust." "The class will be very hands-on," says instructor Jayne Belnap, a research ecologist at Canyonlands National Park. The course is oriented towards land managers, ranchers and "anyone who wants to learn how crusts are environmentally significant, and how to manage and preserve them," says Belnap. The two-day courses will be held at the BLM Training Center in Phoenix, Ariz., Feb. 1-2 and Feb. 4-5. The cost for non-BLM employees is $200. Contact or call Russ Krapf at 602/906-5503.

* Rebecca Clarren

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