Rangelands, Volume 39, Number 3-4 (2017)
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Enhancing Wind Erosion Monitoring and Assessment for U.S. RangelandsWind erosion is a major resource concern for rangeland managers because it can impact soil health, ecosystem structure and function, hydrologic processes, agricultural production, and air quality. Despite its significance, little is known about which landscapes are eroding, by how much, and when. The National Wind Erosion Research Network was established in 2014 to develop tools for monitoring and assessing wind erosion and dust emissions across the United States. The Network, currently consisting of 13 sites, creates opportunities to enhance existing rangeland soil, vegetation, and air quality monitoring programs. Decision-support tools developed by the Network will improve the prediction and management of wind erosion across rangeland ecosystems. © 2017 The Author(s)
Upland Water and Deferred Rotation Effects on Cattle Use in Riparian and Upland AreasOur experience shows that land management agencies rely on upland water and deferred rotation grazing systems to reduce riparian use and improve conditions, rather than addressing stocking rate and requiring herding of cattle. Range scientists have published studies showing that cattle prefer to linger in riparian areas and that stocking rate is more important than grazing system. We collected 4 years of data on upland and riparian residual vegetation, riparian stubble height, and bank alteration prior to implementation of the upland water developments and deferred rotation scheme and compared that with 4 years of data collected after implementation. As a result of this change in management, post-grazing riparian stubble heights decreased; bank alteration was unchanged; upland residual grasses were reduced; there was no change in residual herbaceous vegetation in the riparian zone; and utilization remained excessive in both upland and riparian areas. Range science shows that to reverse this outcome and improve conditions, changes must be made. These include o setting stocking rates based on currently available preferred forage species and today's consumption rates of livestock,o enforcing utilization rates of less than 30% in upland and riparian areas,o enforcing riparian stubble heights of > 15.2 cm across the aquatic influence zone and floodplain,o enforcing bank alteration levels of < 20%,o using riders to limit riparian use and distribute livestock, ando providing rest, not deferment, so that sensitive native grasses recover vigor and productivity prior to being grazed again. © 2017 The Authors
Case Study: Using Soil Survey to Help Predict Sonoran Desert Tortoise Population Distribution and DensitiesSoils properties can affect the ability of an animal to dig burrows for habitat and survival purposes. The Sonoran (Gopherus morafkai) and Mojave Desert Tortoise (Gopherus agassizii) require burrows that are at least 20 inches deep to help them thermoregulate during the cold of winter and heat of summer. Soils that have characteristics that restrict their “digability” would be expected to limit the population density and distribution of animals such as the Sonoran or the Mojave Desert Tortoise regardless of the amount of forage vegetation being produced. The Sonoran Desert Tortoise in Mohave County, Arizona, and possibly throughout its range may seek “habitats of opportunity” within boulder piles, under exposed bedrock, and in caliche caves due to the limited “digability” of the soils endemic to this part of the Sonoran Desert. The natural availability of thermoregulating burrowing habitat and temperature/precipitation records should be considered when interpreting any fluctuations in Sonoran Desert Tortoise population densities. © 2017 The Society for Range Management