• Effects of Short-Term Cattle Exclusion on Plant Community Composition: Prairie Dog and Ecological Site Influences

      Field, Aaron; Sedivec, Kevin; Hendrickson, John; Johnson, Patricia; Geaumont, Benjamin; Xu, Lan; Gates, Roger; Limb, Ryan (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Maintaining cattle and prairie dogs on rangelands is important ecologically, economically, and culturally. However, competition between these species, both actual and perceived, has led to conflict. • We explored the effects of short-term (2-year) cattle exclusion on plant communities both on and off prairie dog towns and among three common ecological sites. • Plant communities were different between on-town and off-town plots and among ecological sites but were similar between cattle-excluded and nonexcluded plots. • Plant community composition did not differ between rangeland targeted for moderate forage utilization and that in which cattle had been excluded for 2 years.
    • Future Visions: A Sustainable and Healthy Local Food Production System

      Garrett, James J. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • A collaborative effort to create an innovative food production system is underway on the Standing Rock Lakota Reservation. • Three land-grant universities and colleges, along with United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, are conducting research as a foundation to begin planning for on-the-ranch production of healthier meat. • This collaborative project uses the Lakota philosophy of natural resource management and in this paper I urge more. • I recommend additional research to develop investigations of relationships between cattle and the native food and medicine plants that also reside within the pasture.
    • History of Occurrence and Present Home Territory Sizes for Black-Tailed Prairie Dogs on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation

      Geaumont, Benjamin A.; Sedivec, Kevin K.; Mack, Wyatt (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Past management and historic occupation by black-tailed prairie dogs will affect the vegetation responses to changes in management. • Ecological sites have different production potential and may influence colonization by black-tailed prairie dogs. • Thin Claypan ecological sites had the largest coterie home territory size at 1.8 ha but also had coteries among the smallest at 0.5 ha.
    • Effect of Grazing Prairie Dog—Colonized Rangeland on Cattle Nutrition and Performance: A Progress Report

      Olson, Kenneth C.; Schauer, Christopher; Engel, Chanda; Kincheloe, Janna J.; Brennan, Jameson R.; Hauptman, Ben L. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • One objective of the ongoing Renewal on Standing Rock Reservation project is to evaluate the response of grazing steers to the level of prairie dog colonization on Northern Mixed Grass Prairie. • We fenced four pastures to create an increasing gradient of a proportion of the pasture area colonized by prairie dogs. Pastures are stocked with yearling steers during each growing season. • Comparing steer performance, Global Positioning System (GPS) locations of grazing, diet samples, and ingestive behavior at each proportion of the prairie dog colony per pasture allows prediction of the optimal proportion of colonization, which enables selection of the most balanced diet for cattle to meet performance goals. • Additionally, it will allow recommendation of management options for any given level of prairie dog colonization to optimize cattle nutrient intake.
    • Native Science: Understanding and Respecting Other Ways of Thinking

      Black Elk, Linda (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Over generations, Native Americans have developed a timely and reliable knowledge of the land, its processes, and its management needs. This knowledge has been referred to as Native science. • Native science employs many concepts such as observation, background research, and experimentation familiar to non-Native researchers and recognizes the interconnectedness of science. Good rangeland management also requires recognition of interrelatedness. • If we are open to it, Native science can give us new ways of looking at the landscape and all that it has to offer in terms of chemical, physical, and ecological processes and communities.
    • Coping With Drought on California Rangelands

      Macon, Daniel K.; Barry, Sheila; Becchetti, Theresa; Davy, Josh S.; Doran, Morgan P.; Finzel, Julie A.; George, Holly; Harper, John M.; Huntsinger, Lynn; Ingram, Roger S.; et al. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Rangeland livestock producers were among the first agricultural communities affected by California’s multiyear drought. • Rancher surveys and in-person interviews have identified key strategies for coping with and adapting to drought. • Increasing flexibility, resource valuation, and information sharing are important components of building adaptive capacity. • Web-based communication systems have provided new tools for peer-to-peer learning, public education, and extending knowledge to larger audiences. • Insights from managers experiences are important for adaptation planning to enhance resilience of rangeland social-ecological systems to climate stresses.
    • Estimating Overnight Weight Loss of Corralled Yearling Steers in Semiarid Rangeland

      Derner, Justin D.; Reeves, Justin L.; Mortenson, Matthew C.; West, Mark; Irisarri, J. Gonzalo; Durante, Martin (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • A common practice for assessing livestock weight gains from grazing animals on rangelands is to confine animals overnight without feed or water to reduce variation in weight loss and percent shrink. • Advances in remote sensing of vegetation, such as the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) provide opportunities to estimate greenness (an indicator of both the quality and quantity of the plant community) that could be used with air temperature and relative humidity as predictors of percent shrink in grazing animals. • We determined percent shrink losses from crossbred yearling steers at each of four weigh dates for four consecutive years. • Percent overnight shrink by yearling steers grazing semiarid rangeland was influenced positively by air temperature and NDVI values, but not relative humidity. • The prediction equation we developed can provide temporal weight gain data within a grazing season without the logistical difficulties in gathering and holding animals, as well as eliminate associated animal stress from shrinking and regaining gut fill multiple times.
    • Assessing Drought Vulnerability Using a Socioecological Framework

      Brown, Joel R.; Kluck, Doug; McNutt, Chad; Hayes, Michael (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Drought is a persistent problem on rangelands and adjusting management to respond appropriately is critical to both preserving natural resources and to maintaining financial viability. • We explore the value of using a structured assessment approach to determining both social and ecological vulnerability. • This approach allows for the identification of vulnerable ecosystems and business operations at regional and local scales as a basis for developing effective policies and programs.
    • Where Do Seasonal Climate Predictions Belong in the Drought Management Toolbox?

      Crimmins, Michael A.; McClaran, Mitchel P. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Seasonal climate predictions, based largely on the status of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, are one such tool but need to be used with prudence, understanding when and where they perform the best. • Advance planning and preparation for drought includes finding the right place for uncertain climate predictions in management decision making, as well as working to reduce overall exposure to drought risks.
    • Advancing Knowledge for Proactive Drought Planning and Enhancing Adaptive Management for Drought on Rangelands: Introduction to a Special Issue

      Kelley, Windy K.; Scasta, John Derek; Derner, Justin D. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Drought adversely affects land managers, ranching enterprises, and pastoral systems. • As an ecological driver, drought historically shaped vegetation composition, structure, diversity, and productivity of rangelands leading to varying levels of resilience in these ecosystems. • Drought influences risk management in decision making by rangeland managers, resulting in a renewed emphasis on the importance of proactive drought planning and adaptive management for drought with monitoring-informed decision making.
    • Usable Science for Sustainable Rangelands: Conclusions

      Tanaka, John A.; Maczko, Kristie A.; Hidinger, Lori; Ellis, Chad (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Producers and users of scientific knowledge working together can identify future research directions that will produce usable science to address the challenges of managing for sustainable rangelands. • Matching the scale of science to the scale of management and ecological and physical processes was a prominent theme identified. • Similar activities in other regions with participants from the energy sector, wildlife organizations, and recreation enthusiasts can provide additional research directions for sustainable rangelands.
    • Development of the Renewal on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation Project

      Hendrickson, John R.; Black Elk, Linda; Faller, Timothy (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • The Standing Rock Sioux Reservation comprises 2.3 million acres, primarily rangeland, straddling the North DakotaSouth Dakota border. • Natural resource management is economically and culturally important to the Standing Rock community. • Respecting traditional ways of thinking and placing stakeholders and their needs at the center are key aspects of project development. • Native Americans were the original natural resource managers on our rangelands, and their thoughts and expertise can provide guidance to rangeland managers now and in the future.
    • Acknowledgments

      Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01
    • Droughts and Wildfires in Western U.S. Rangelands

      Scasta, John Derek; Weir, John R.; Stambaugh, Michael C. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Because fire activity fluctuates with short- and long-term term weather and climate trends, understanding trends relative to climate forecasts is critical to mitigating the loss of life and property and rapid vegetation state changes. • Through the analysis of charcoal and trees scars, historical droughts and fire patterns can be quantified retrospectively for hundreds of years. This evidence suggests that generally fire was most frequent during warm-dry periods as opposed to cool-moist periods. However, arid regions may see an increase of fire activity with an increase of moisture due to inherent fuel load limitations. • Using federal wildfire and weather data from 2002 to 2015 for New Mexico, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Wyoming, we demonstrate that the worst wildfire activity occurred after average or above average precipitation years followed by drought in Oklahoma and Wyoming. Nevada wildfire activity was correlated with precipitation the preceding year, and New Mexico wildfire activity was not correlated with annual precipitation or preceding year precipitation. • The effects of future drought on fire intensity and severity are projected to be highly variable because they are both a function of fuel load. However, the potential for very large wildfires is predicted to increase; fire weather is expected to create hotter and drier conditions that start earlier and last longer; and the relative changes may be most noticeable in cooler regions that are of higher latitude and elevation.
    • Evaluating New SMAP Soil Moisture for Drought Monitoring in the Rangelands of the US High Plains

      Velpuri, Naga Manohar; Senay, Gabriel B.; Morisette, Jeffrey T. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Level 3 soil moisture datasets from the recently launched Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite are evaluated for drought monitoring in rangelands. • Validation of SMAP soil moisture (SSM) with in situ and modeled estimates showed high level of agreement. • SSM showed the highest correlation with surface soil moisture (0-5 cm) and a strong correlation to depths up to 20 cm. • SSM showed a reliable and expected response of capturing seasonal dynamics in relation to precipitation, land surface temperature, and evapotranspiration. • Further evaluation using multi-year SMAP datasets is necessary to quantify the full benefits and limitations for drought monitoring in rangelands.
    • Rangeland Responses to Predicted Increases in Drought Extremity

      Breshears, David D.; Knapp, Alan K.; Law, Darin J.; Smith, Melinda D.; Wonkka, Carissa L.; Twidwell, Dirac (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Rangeland managers actively focus on the potential to induce a shift in a site to an alternative state, but predicted changes in climate, particularly the likelihood of more extreme drought, necessitate reevaluating risks for alternative states. • Rangelands will differ in their susceptibility to undergo state changes due to climate change in general and for droughts of the future, in particular, which may be hotter. • Trees, shrubs, and grasses are expected to differ in their sensitivity to drought, with trees likely being most sensitive; this affects the likelihood for state changes in grasslands, shrublands, woodlands, and savannas. • Considering these differences can help rangeland managers deal with the challenges of increasing drought that is forecast to occur with climate change.
    • New Tools for Assessing Drought Conditions for Rangeland Management

      Knutson, Cody; Fuchs, Brian (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Historical drought assessment and ongoing monitoring is essential for understanding past drought occurrence, the relationships between past drought and its impacts, and for triggering action during current drought events. • A variety of new products have recently been developed to better monitor drought conditions and assess past occurrences at the local scale. • A growing number of resources are available to assist rangeland managers to develop a monitoring system and incorporate it into a drought management plan.
    • The Role of Cattle Grazing Management on Perennial Grass and Woody Vegetation Cover in Semiarid Rangelands: Insights From Two Case Studies in the Botswana Kalahari

      Mudongo, Edwin I.; Fusi, Tsholofelo; Fynn, Richard W.S.; Bonyongo, Mpaphi C. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • We assessed the long-term effects of continuous and rotational grazing on grass and treedynamics on adjacent ranches in the semiarid Kalahari of western Botswana. • Rotationally grazed ranches had higher grass cover with more perennial grass species, higher grazing value (and capacity), and higher long-term stocking rates than their continuously grazed neighbors. Tree cover tended to be higher on continuously grazed ranches, suggesting that long-term continuous grazing reduced grass production and favored establishment of woody vegetation. • Improvement in semiarid rangeland health and production is unlikely to be achieved simply by reducing stocking rates; uniform grazing and growing season recovery periods are essential. • These and other case studies suggest that benefits of grazing strategies likely depend on scale and adaptive management. Future research should be at larger spatial and temporal scales.
    • Near-Real-Time Cheatgrass Percent Cover in the Northern Great Basin, USA, 2015 By Stephen

      Boyte, Stephen P.; Wylie, Bruce K. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum L.) dramatically changes shrub steppe ecosystems in the Northern Great Basin, United States. • Current-season cheatgrass location and percent cover are difficult to estimate rapidly. • We explain the development of a near-real-time cheatgrass percent cover dataset and map in the Northern Great Basin for the current year (2015), display the current years map, provide analysis of the map, and provide a website link to download the map (as a PDF) and the associated dataset. • The near-real-time cheatgrass percent cover dataset and map were consistent with non-expedited, historical cheatgrass percent cover datasets and maps. • Having cheatgrass maps available mid-summer can help land managers, policy makers, and Geographic Information Systems personnel as they work to protect socially relevant areas such as critical wildlife habitats.
    • View Point: Commercial Wildland Harvested Seed and the Utah Connection

      Stevenson, Ronald M. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • The need for large-scale disturbed land rehabilitation in the west is well known but is recently receiving new attention. • Seeding appropriate species, varieties, and ecotypes is often needed to succeed in rehabilitation of these degraded landscapes. • Key people, organizations, and early and continuing research in Utah have been very influential in providing valuable information for degraded land rehabilitation. • Seed from the key species and ecotypes provided by wildland seed harvests are a very important part of successful land restoration. The wildland seed industry developed in Utah and dominates the supply of wildland seed in western land restoration.