• Testing a Remote Sensing-Based Interactive System for Monitoring Grazed Conservation Lands

      Ford, L. D.; Butterfield, H. S.; Van, Hoorn, P. A.; Allen, K. B.; Inlander, E.; Schloss, C.; Schuetzenmeister, F.; Tsalyuk, M. (Society for Range Management, 2017-10)
      Many public agencies and land trusts that manage grazing lands are interested in using remote sensing technologies to make their monitoring programs more efficient but lack the expertise to do so. In California annual grasslands, using remote sensing is especially challenging because the dominant vegetation is not detectable by standard technologies at a key time of year for monitoring. The Nature Conservancy of California (TNC) has developed RDMapper, an easy-to-use web-based tool that uses satellite-based productivity estimates, rainfall records, and compliance history to identify management units at risk of being below the required level of residual dry matter (RDM). TNC successfully used RDMapper in 2015 and 2016 to predict compliance across approximately 47,000 hectares of conservation easement grasslands, while reducing monitoring costs by 42%. We also applied RDMapper on six non-TNC properties (approximately 5,700 hectares) owned by two public agencies. We correctly predicted RDM compliance on 74% of the management units and found the method to be successful overall, with several challenges mainly relating to meeting RDMapper's data requirements. Our study illuminated potential benefits, hurdles, and best practices for landowners interested in using RDMapper to increase monitoring efficiency, and made recommendations to improve it. Adding RDMapper to conventional monitoring toolkits could be game-changing for public lands management agencies that currently struggle to manage vast grasslands. © 2017 The Society for Range Management