• To ranch or not to ranch: Home on the urban range?

      Liffmann, R. H.; Huntsinger, L.; Forero, L. C. (Society for Range Management, 2000-07-01)
      California ranchers in urban Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, and in rural Tehama County, were surveyed to examine effects of increasing development, land use change, and attrition of the ranching community on their commitment to ranching, and to assess land conservation program acceptability. Questions were about practices, reasons for ranching, and what influences ranching's future. Ranchers share much in common. Most enjoy ranching, "feeling close to the earth," living in a "good place for family life," and the camaraderie in the ranching community. They regularly carry out range improvements. Most believe that society is becoming "hostile to ranching." A dislike for outsider intervention and land use control prevails. Urban ranchers cared significantly less about the fate of their ranch if sold, and feared local land use planning much more. Rural ranchers overwhelmingly wanted their ranch to remain a productive ranch even if sold. No new ranchers appeared in the urban sample for the last 10 years. As urbanization proceeds, we suggest that a point is reached where ranchers recognize the social, ecological, and economic landscape as urban and see it as no longer suitable for ranching. Expecting to sell for development, and/or expecting zoning to change to allow it, becomes the rational view. Land conservation efforts, including relatively acceptable though as yet not widespread conservation easement programs, should begin before that happens.
    • Vegetation response to late growing-season wildfire on Nebraska Sandhills rangeland

      Volesky, J. D.; Connot, S. B. (Society for Range Management, 2000-07-01)
      This study examined the effects of late growing-season (September) wildfire on the subsequent production and species composition of upland Nebraska Sandhills prairie vegetation. Three paired-plots (burn and control), 0.5 ha in size were established in 1995 on sands range sites on each of 3 replications in west-central Nebraska. Soil temperature data were collected the following growing season and herbage standing crop and species composition data were collected for 3 growing seasons following the burn. During March through May of the 1996 growing season, soil temperature in the burn treatment was an average of 1.6 degrees C higher at both 15 and 30 cm depths compared to the control (P < 0.05). This small increase in spring soil temperature under the burn treatment did not appear to result in earlier growth or to increase herbage standing crop in May. Total herbage standing crop in August averaged 143, 142, and 185 g m-2 in 1996, 1997, and 1998, respectively, and did not differ between the burn treatment and control (P > 0.05). Little bluestem [Schizchyrium scoparium (Michx.) Nash] was the species most adversely affected by burning. Percentage composition by weight of little bluestem in August 1996 averaged 8% under the burn treatment compared to 47% in the control. Other species and species groups, however, were more abundant in burned plots, thus offsetting the lesser amounts of little bluestem. Little bluestem exhibited a marked recovery during the second and third growing seasons after the burn. During the third growing season, percent composition of little bluestem averaged 46% and was not different between treatments (P > 0.05). Forbs were more abundant under the burn treatment compared to the control only during the first growing season following the burn (P < 0.05).