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1 September 2018 Collaborative Adaptive Rangeland Management Fosters Management-Science Partnerships

Rangelands of the western Great Plains of North America are complex social-ecological systems where management objectives for livestock production, grassland bird conservation, and vegetation structure and composition converge. The Collaborative Adaptive Rangeland Management (CARM) experiment is a 10-year collaborative adaptive management (CAM) project initiated in 2012 that is aimed at fostering science-management partnerships and data-driven rangeland management through a participatory, multistakeholder approach. This study evaluates the decision-making process that emerged from the first 4 yr of CARM. Our objectives were to 1) document how diverse stakeholder experiences, epistemologies, and resulting knowledge contributed to the CARM project, 2) evaluate how coproduced knowledge informed management decision making through three grazing seasons, and 3) explore the implications of participation in the CARM project for rangeland stakeholders. We evaluated management decision making as representatives from government agencies and conservation nongovernmental organizations, ranchers, and interdisciplinary researchers worked within the CARM experiment to 1) prioritize desired ecosystem services; 2) determine objectives; 3) set stocking rates, criteria for livestock movement among pastures, and vegetation treatments; and 4) select monitoring techniques that would inform decision making. For this paper, we analyzed meeting transcripts, interviews, and focus group data related to stakeholder group decision making. We find two key lessons from the CARM project. First, the CAM process makes visible, but does not reconcile differences between, stakeholder experiences and ways of knowing about complex rangeland systems. Second, social learning in CAM is contingent on the development of trust among stakeholder and researcher groups. We suggest future CAM efforts should 1) make direct efforts to share and acknowledge managers' different rangeland management experiences, epistemologies, and knowledge and 2) involve long-term research commitment in time and funding to social, as well as experimental, processes that promote trust building among stakeholders and researchers over time.

Elsevier Inc. on behalf of The Society for Range Management.
"Collaborative Adaptive Rangeland Management Fosters Management-Science Partnerships ," Rangeland Ecology and Management 71(5), 646-657, (1 September 2018).
Received: 7 December 2016; Accepted: 21 July 2017; Published: 1 September 2018

adaptive management
decision making
grassland management
grazing management
shortgrass steppe
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