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Ashe juniper invasion is a widespread issue on Texas and Oklahoma rangelands. Increased densities of Ashe juniper trees increase the risk of wildfire and decrease herbaceous forage production.
Browsing animals, such as goats, are one tool that can be used to effectively reduce juniper fuel.
In order to estimate the available biomass, allometric measurements were compared against three-dimensional Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) scans of whole juniper plants.
Accurate measurements of standing juniper browse and fuel load can be vital information for decision support of grazing management and wildland fire mitigation, especially in the ever-growing wildland-urban interface.
Over the past 150 years, cultivation, urbanization, and industrial activity have replaced much of North America's native prairie. As such, native prairie ecosystems are of vital importance to many species at risk. If society wants to conserve the North American prairie ecosystem, including the many species at risk, then partnerships between public agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and private landholders need to be established and strengthened.
To benefit the most species at risk, this partnership should metamorphose from the typical single-species management into one that addresses the needs of multiple species. To that end, we present a framework that is achieved through voluntary partnerships with the ranching community that alleviates their fear of species at risk and enhances their ability to manage multiple species at risk on their properties.
We use the MULTISAR program, delivered since 2002 in the grasslands of southern Alberta, Canada, as the example of an effective and functioning multiple-species conservation program that has applied the framework. Conservation is achieved through the development of a Habitat Conservation Strategy that is based on the 4 pillars of 1) engagement, 2) respect, 3) empowerment, and 4) monitoring and evaluation.
We discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the framework and program based on 15 years' experience. As the program built trust and acceptance in the ranching community, the number of participants has continuously grown from 1 cooperator to 39 by 2018, conserving 1,600 km2 of prairie habitat in southern Alberta.
The process outlined here can be applied across the grasslands of North America and the world as an effective approach for engaging landholders in the conservation of a suite of species at risk.
To be successful, producers must interpret environmental stimuli and respond with management actions that help match their production operations to the ecosystem services they depend on. Climate change, and the increased variability that will likely result, may lessen the relevance of historical rules of thumb and management heuristics by altering environmental conditions and giving rise to novel systems that feature more frequent and intense periods of stress.
Sustaining livestock production in the face of climate change depends on the rapid production of knowledge to inform adaptation to novel systems. Involving producers in research is often discussed as a strategy to help accomplish this goal.
We propose immersive co-production, wherein a student researcher is embedded within the production operations of a working ranch while studying and conducting research, as one method of quickly developing the knowledge resources necessary to sustain livestock production in the context of environmental change. We present a case study involving a ranch near Gunnison, Colorado, as evidence of the effectiveness of this approach.
Immersive co-production involves producers in research and researchers in production to develop useful ranch-level management insights and a new generation of interdisciplinary range professionals with intimate knowledge of the complexity faced by producers.
The generally accepted ancestral bison herd size, the existing records and estimates of bison slaughter, and the contention that bison were hunted to extinction do not add up.
Defending the hypothesis that bison were slaughtered to extinction requires adding unreasonable millions to the slaughter estimates or reducing the projected ancestral bison herd to about five million.
A more reasonable approach is to assume bison were also dying at a high rate because of other factors, such as disease.
I believe the disease rate was exacerbated by the loss of intelligent human grazing management practiced by the Original American First Nations.