• A History of Plant Improvement by the USDA-ARS Forage and Range Research Laboratory for Rehabilitation of Degraded Western U.S. Rangelands

      Staub, Jack; Chatterton, Jerry; Bushman, Shaun; Johnson, Douglas; Jones, Thomas; Larson, Steve; Robins, Joseph; Monaco, Thomas (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Climate change models for the western United States predict warmer winters in the Great Basin and hotter, drier summers in the Mojave Desert, increasing the already high rate of rangeland and pasture degradation, which in turn will increase annual grass invasion, escalate wildfire frequency, and reduce forage production. • These changes in western U.S. rangelands will continue to result in the emergence of novel ecosystems that will require different and/or improved plant materials for successful revegetation. • Traditional plant improvement of native and non-native rangeland plant species by the USDA, ARS Forage and Range Research Laboratory (FRRL, Logan, Utah) has been accomplished through rigorous evaluation of seed collections followed by recurrent selection and hybridization of unique plant types within selected populations to identify plants with superior establishment and performance characteristics. After such plant types have been selected, they are further evaluated in multiple ecologically diverse locations to identify broadly adapted superior germplasm for public release. • Plant improvement of perennial grasses, legumes, and forbs by the FRRL has provided and will continue to deliver plant materials that support sustainable rangeland management efforts to service productive and functionally diverse rangelands.
    • Highlights

      Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01
    • Lessons Learned from Bison Restoration Efforts in Utahi on Western Rangelands

      Bates, Bill; Hersey, Kent (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Bison are considered the keystone species of the Great Plains but widespread slaughter led to their near extinction. • Utah has two wild, free-ranging herds on public lands managed as wildlife though hunting. Both herds are descended from animals reintroduced to the Henry Mountains in the 1940s and more recently the Book Cliffs in 2008. • Key elements for the successful ecological restoration of bison include: ∘ Legal designation of bison as wildlife in the state ∘ Genetically-pure, disease-free source ∘ Large expanses of habitat-they take a lot of room ∘ Potential conflicts must be identified and addressed in a transparent manner ∘ Mutual purpose and trust with all affected stakeholders is essential; i.e., ask, How can we have both sustainable livestock grazing and a viable bison herd on the unit? ∘ Active management to address changing situations and maintain herd size at a sustainable level
    • 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.
    • Quaking Aspen in Utah: Integrating Recent Science with Management

      Rogers, Paul C.; St. Clair, Samuel B. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Quaking aspen is widely regarded as a key resource for humans, livestock, and wildlife with these values often competing with each other, leading to overuse of aspen in some locations and declines. • Wereview trends in aspen science and management, particularly in Utah. Historically, research conducted here holds a prestigious place in international aspen circles. • We highlight recent studies continuing the tradition to keep rangeland managers informed of important developments, focusing on aspen functional types, historical cover change and climate warming, ungulate herbivory, and disturbance interactions.
    • Temperament Affects Rangeland Use Patterns and Reproductive Performance of Beef Cows

      Goodman, Laura E.; Cibils, Andres F.; Wesley, Robert L.; Mulliniks, Travis; Petersen, Mark K.; Scholljegerdes, Eric J.; Cox, Shad H. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • The American beef industry is paying more attention to cattle temperament, but studies examining relationships between temperaments and grazing behavior or animal performance on rangelands are limited. • We studied range beef cow temperaments using the behavioral syndromes framework. Cows classified into behavioral type groups on the basis of a suite of correlated behaviors showed contrasting rangeland use patterns and different reproductive efficiency. These differences resulted in temperament-related culling rates over time. • We argue that the behavioral syndromes conceptual framework could be a valuable tool to advance current understanding about how cattle temperaments are related to grazing patterns and animal performance on rangeland.
    • The History and Overview of Utah’s Grazing Improvement Program

      Longmore, Ashley T.; Forrest, Troy (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Livestock numbers have been declining since the early 1930s but many of the same resource concerns are still present today. • We must change the way we think about and manage livestock on our own in order to restore and maintain sustainable range resources. • The Utah Department of Agriculture and Foods Grazing Improvement Program reaches across land ownership and jurisdictional boundaries to foster collaboration among private, federal, and state interests to implement sound grazing management practices that improve rangeland and watershed health. • The Grazing Improvement Program focuses on three main principles: • Time (the duration of grazing), timing (the season of use), frequency (how often the same plant is grazed), and intensity (amount of forage removed); • Managing plant succession through grazing, mechanical, fire, chemical, and other means to enhance diversity and production (diversity = sustainability); • Monitoring and adaptive management (you cannot manage what you do not measure).
    • 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.
    • USDA-ARS Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory: History and Current Research on Western North American Rangelands

      Pfister, James A.; Cook, Daniel; Panter, Kip E.; Welch, Kevin D.; James, Lynn F. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Poisonous plants on western North American rangelands have historically been troublesome to livestock producers. • Research on toxic plants was initiated by the United States Department of Agriculture in the late 1890s to solve problems for the livestock industry. • TheUnited States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Resource Service Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory in Logan, Utah continues to provide research-based solutions to poisonous plant problems besetting livestock producers, hobby farmers and small holders, veterinarians, and extension personnel. • Principal plants of current research interest include larkspur, lupine, locoweed, selenium accumulating plants, pyrrolizidine alkaloid-containing plants, and ponderosa pine.
    • 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.
    • View Point: Critical Evaluations of Vegetation Cover Measurement Techniques: A Response to Thacker et al. (2015)

      Karl, Jason W.; Karl, Michael G.; McCord, Sarah E.; Kachergis, Emily (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Method comparison studies are necessary to reconcile monitoring methods that have arisen among disparate programs; however, we find that Thacker et al.s study comparing Daubenmire frame (DF) and line-point intercept (LPI) methods for estimating vegetation cover is not adequate to support their conclusions. • Because the DF and LPI methods estimate different aspects of vegetation cover (total canopy vs. foliar cover), there should be no a priori expectation that the two techniques would produce the same results. • Thacker et al. omit critical information about their methods (sampling design, training and calibration, indicator calculations) that could have a large impact on their results and how they can be interpreted. • Differences in results between different vegetation cover measurement techniques can also be attributable to factors like observer training and calibration, plot heterogeneity and complexity, spatial distribution of vegetation, plant morphology, and plot size; thus it is difficult to draw strong conclusions froma single study. • Rather than implementing both DF and LPI techniques in sage-grouse studies as Thacker et al. recommend, effort should instead be invested in ensuring that sampling for one selected method is adequate. • Critical evaluations of vegetation measurement methods to advance the science of rangeland monitoring should be conducted and reported in a rigorous manner, provide a thorough review of previous studies, and discuss how new results contribute to existing knowledge.
    • View Point: FLPMA Turns Forty: Providing Bureau of Land Management with Long-Term Vision

      Ross, Joseph V.H. (Society for Range Management, 2016-12-01)
      On the Ground • Under the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) of 1976, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages public lands to sustain their health, diversity, and productivity for the benefit of present and future generations. The task is complicated, and there are issues that need to be addressed. • Public demands and expectations continue to increase, and the agency must pursue logical, transparent, scientific and sustainable resource decisions. • I encourage the BLM to be more open, creative, and collaborate with diverse publics. As we see frustration grow with multiple-use management, the BLM needs to do a better job of balancing the needs and wishes of the American public.