Submitted to: Popular Publication
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: February 10, 2009
Publication Date: March 10, 2009
Citation: Derner, J.D., Augustine, D.J., Lauenroth, W. 2009. Conservation Grazing Management. Cow Country 139(1):10-11. Technical Abstract: Conservation grazing management, conservation grazing for short, is a new direction for rangeland management that emphasizes the positive relationships between domestic livestock and conservation goals. The aim of conservation grazing is to help rangeland managers blend the objectives of a livestock grazing enterprise with site and landscape scale needs of species of concern to conservationists. Accomplishing this blending of objectives will require collaboration between rangeland managers and conservationists within an adaptive management framework. Careful analysis makes clear that the shared concerns of livestock operators and conservationists with respect to many of the emergent issues of the 21st century such as sage grouse habitat, prairie dogs, energy development, and invasive weeds far outweigh the potential conflicts. Conservation grazing focuses on and highlights these shared concerns. Combining livestock grazing and other natural disturbances such as fire, drought and cyclical populations of prairie dogs, provides a variety of options in the toolbox for resource managers to simultaneously address habitat needs of species of concern and livestock production. Conservation grazing must be outcome-based rather than practice-driven, and conducted within the context of landscapes through collaborative efforts involving diverse stakeholders. These outcomes can be achieved across administrative and land ownership boundaries through open and honest communications, shared vision, effective planning, and collective participation in the application of integrated management approaches and subsequent monitoring efforts. The application of conservation grazing management to large landscapes will require that we identify integrated management approaches that must be determined by our understanding of rangelands and of critical habitat areas for different species of concern. The success of conservation grazing will largely be measured by its ability to overcome the constraints and prevailing dogma associated with traditional management practices and their application in a cookbook and cookie-cutter manner (e.g., a one-size fits all approach).