Project Number: 2070-21630-003-023-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement
Start Date: Sep 30, 2023
End Date: Sep 30, 2025
ARS Burns and Oregon State University (OSU) Burns have a long history of producing applied science that supports management decision-making on millions of acres of northern Great Basin rangeland. This impact has been facilitated by the inclusion of Burns ARS and OSU in regional collaborative science-based conservation groups. Collaborative and science-based efforts have proven to be an effective tool for engaging in contentious natural resource management challenges, helping agricultural producers, agencies, and local communities find common ground and solutions. Ongoing work by ARS Burns, OSU Burns, and their extensive partner network (including ag producers, federal and state land management agencies, multiple NGOs, state wildlife agencies, federal regulatory agencies, local and county government, and local conservation entities) has resulted in collaboratively-derived, science-based management frameworks that are accepted by a diverse array of stakeholders. These frameworks are currently guiding management of millions of acres of private and public rangeland in the northern Great Basin. A key ingredient to the success of these ventures has been extensive outreach to customer groups. Active and ongoing engagement by ARS Burns and OSU Burns has resulted in a level of trust necessary to operationalize our applied research in a diversity of management contexts including agricultural production on rangeland supporting sensitive wildlife species such as the greater sage-grouse. Demand for such outreach is in excess of current capacity to supply it; thus limiting the potential for science delivery and associated impact. To ameliorate this problem, ARS Burns will work with OSU to support an outreach specialist to coordinate and expand these activities. This position will focus on both direct outreach to collaborative groups and private/public land managers and decision makers, as well collaborating with ARS Burns scientists to develop and produce science-based decision-support tools and associated research. Specific objectives include: 1) Work with stakeholder collaboratives to create enabling conditions for individuals and organizations to employ principles of threat-based conservation to plan and coordinate activities that defend and grow core sagebrush rangelands. 2) Work with stakeholder collaboratives to develop tools and protocols that inform and support implementation of more effective integrated rangeland and wildfire management. 3) Develop an educational program that helps land managers overcome social, fiscal, and logistical barriers to adoption of precision agricultural technologies. Benefits to ARS will include increased science delivery capacity to meet ongoing and emerging stakeholder needs, incorporation of ARS research into landscape tools and technologies for rangeland managers, greater capacity of ARS Burns scientists to design and conduct research pertinent to natural resource challenges being faced by stakeholders, and increased collaboration with OSU and other research and outreach parnters.
For objective 1, OSU will work directly with Oregon Sage-Grouse Local Implementation Teams to support threat-based strategic conservation and planning in central and southeastern Oregon. Lessons learned from engagement in these and previous similar planning processes will be incorporated into a series of video and other web-based education and decision-support products that rangeland managers and stakeholders can use to inform threat-based strategic conservation planning and implementation at local and regional scales. OSU will also develop and then conduct a series of train-the-trainer workshops that equip rangeland management and conservation leaders to facilitate threat-based strategic conservation planning in their respective communities. Impact metrics will include the number of acres to which threat-based strategic conservation is applied as well as customer demand indicators (e.g. requests for workshops and training). For objective 2, ARS Burns and its expanded collaborator network (including OSU) have developed a series of rangeland fuels products and management recommendations to guide integrated rangeland and fire management. Most of this work has occurred at the research plot scale or regional scales and a need exists to develop tools and protocols for mid-scale (i.e., pasture or rangeland fireshed) rangeland fuels assessment, monitoring, and management. Building on previous work with engaging stakeholder groups in a Potential Operational Delineations framework to support integrated rangeland and wildfire planning, OSU will work with ongoing and new collaboratives to design and implement tools and protocols for mid-scale rangeland fuels assessments, monitoring, and decision-support. Impact metrics will include the number of projects, acres impacted, customer demand indicators (requests for information, technical support to collaboratives, and training) and peer review publications resulting from interactions with collaboratives. For objective 3, ARS Burns and its expanded collaborator network (including OSU) have conducted an impressive body of research demonstrating the utility of emerging precision agriculture techonologies (e.g., virtual fencing) for managing livestock for improved rangeland and wildfire outcomes. While emerging technologies have transformative potential for rangeland and fire management, there is limited social science research examining regional and/or operational-level challenges that livestock producers and agency staff may associate with adopting precision ag technologies. Until barriers to adoption are understood, broadscale application for rangeland and fire management will be limited. OSU will enumerate barriers to adoption of virtual fencing among livestock producers and land management agency staff in southeastern Oregon and clarify if and how barriers aggregate among user groups (e.g., identify likely adopters and associated operational/social conditions). These research findings will be used to 1) tailor outreach/education products to address commonly identified barriers, targeting programming for categories of likely adopters and 2) produce information that informs policy and programmatic recommenda