Submitted to: Country Cow
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: September 15, 2011
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Conducting rangeland research that is relevant for, and can be applied by, land managers is the core foundation for research projects involving the Rangeland Resources Research Unit. We are continually evaluating our research program to determine which research projects are meeting the needs of land managers in Wyoming and surrounding states. Historically, our Research Unit has focused on evaluating the effects of grazing management practices on vegetation and livestock responses. However, society increasingly expects rangelands to produce not only goods (livestock and forage production) but also services (wildlife habitat, clean and plentiful water, carbon storage, biodiversity, etc.). As a result, management decisions made at the ranch enterprise level are complex and involve many factors including: markets, policies, social trends, climate and weather, and desired outcomes/responses resulting from the management options available. This complex nature of ranch decision-making has not been adequately captured by past scientific research on grazing. For example, see the recent article by David Briske, myself and others in Rangeland Ecology and Management, volume 64, pages 325-334, available at our website: www.rrru.ars.usda.gov by clicking on Justin Derner and scroll down to the top of the publication list. To learn about how land managers make these complex decisions on rangelands and to address this gap in research, we are partnering with the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, the University of Wyoming, and the University of California-Davis in a survey that will be launched at the 2011 Winter Roundup in Casper (December 13-15 at the Parkway Plaza). This survey is an opportunity for you to tell us “here is what influences how I make decisions and why”. The survey also asks about challenges and opportunities related to ranching in Wyoming that can inform rangeland policies and research. The survey contains questions such as: Which prescribed grazing practices do you use and how effective are they? What information sources do you use for prescribed grazing information? How have you used prescribed grazing to achieve natural resource management goals, including both production of goods and provision of services such as wildlife habitat from rangelands? How do you prepare for and respond to drought? What goals do you hope to achieve using prescribed grazing in your ranching operation? This survey is very similar to one that we carried out earlier this year with the California Cattlemen’s Association. As in that survey, individual results of respondents will remain anonymous, with only summary data across respondents reported. Results from both surveys will be used to decide how the Rangeland Resources Research Unit and partners should conduct large-scale grazing experiments at our research stations (High Plains Grasslands Research Station near Cheyenne, WY and the Central Plains Experimental Range near Nunn, CO). Also, the results will be integrated with available scientific information to produce an online enterprise-scale rangeland management decision-making tool. This tool will allow Wyoming stock growers to find and exchange information about prescribed grazing. So how can you participate? We will be at the 2011 Winter Roundup with surveys so you can complete the survey there. If you are unable to make it to Casper, we will mail you a survey shortly after the Winter Roundup. We expect that the survey will take approximately 20-25 minutes to complete. This is a chance to alert scientists to new areas of research and to provide feedback concerning policies and programs that affect ranchers in Wyoming. We look forward to learning about rangeland decision making from you.