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The Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP) is a multi-agency effort to quantify the environmental effects of conservation practices and programs and develop the science base for managing the agricultural landscape for environmental quality.
The rangeland CEAP review evaluated the scientific literature on seven core NRCS conservation practices: prescribed grazing, prescribed burning, brush management, range planting, riparian herbaceous cover, upland wildlife habitat management, and herbaceous weed control.
The scientific literature “broadly supports” the reviewed rangeland conservation practices standards; however, there is a disjunct in integrating science and field-based knowledge so that managers and conservationists can fully understand the individualistic dynamic aspects of rangeland conservation practices.
The CEAP synthesis establishes a precedent for partnerships among scientists, land managers, conservation specialists, and policymakers to provide NRCS with useful, current, science-based information for rangeland conservation practices.
The same collaborative Internet technologies that fundamentally changed how businesses communicate, create products and services, and ultimately succeed have the potential to contribute greatly to meeting knowledge challenges of rangeland management.
Web 2.0 tools, like wikis, crowd-sourcing, and content aggregation (i.e., mashups), are currently used in natural resource science and have the potential to increase our understanding of rangeland ecosystems and improve management decision making in the future.
Taking advantage of this explosion of information will require a change in focus from discrete and isolated projects to comprehensive knowledge systems that can be tapped (and supplemented as necessary) to respond to new management issues as they arise.
Range scientists, managers, and practitioners can benefit by including history in their current monitoring and restoration efforts.
A symposium at the 2012 SRM Annual Meeting explored three questions: How did certain assumptions toward the ecology and use of rangelands influence the development of range science and its application? How can land managers apply history to their current work? How can range science evolve in order to meet the challenges of the 21st century?
The symposium highlighted the need for an interdisciplinary approach toward understanding the past and confronting the future of rangelands.
Ranch drought planning is important for identifying management priorities, proactively evaluating management options before a drought occurs, and ultimately reducing the effects of drought on an operation and the grasslands that support it.
An engagement activity with ranchers and ranch advisors developed a drought planning methodology to help other ranchers develop their own individual ranch drought plans.
Although the ranchers and advisors who participated differed some on specific approaches, they agreed on the benefits of incorporating drought into overall ranch planning well in advance of drought and acknowledged the reality of having to make adjustments as situations arise.
In 1990, cattle grazed private land in Utah's Book Cliff Mountains until late July. Elk in the area ate about 50% of the forage regrowth on this land from late July to mid-September.
This private land mentioned was sold in 1990 and managed for elk. At the same time cattle were permanently removed from the area.
By 2009, repeat photography showed that vegetation in the area had changed and was dominated by dense stands of mature vegetation and weeds. In 2009 there were no signs of elk, whereas in 1990 many elk and signs of elk were observed in the area.
Based on this study and many others, carefully managed cattle grazing can be a lost-cost method to improve forage quality for elk.
The bark, leaves, and berries of western juniper trees in Oregon can cause abortions in late-term pregnant cattle.
The percentage of the abortion-causing compounds varied from tree to tree in a location, as well as between locations across Oregon, but did not appear to vary across time.
Cattle producers who winter cattle in pastures with western juniper trees should take cautions such as denying late-term pregnant cattle access to these pastures, providing adequate feed and shelter, maintaining pregnant cattle in good body condition, changing calving schedules to late spring or early fall, and, if abortions do occur, seeking veterinary care for any postpartum complications.