|SPAETH, KEN - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS, USDA)|
|BRISKE, DAVE - Texas A&M University|
|JOLLEY, LEONARD - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS, USDA)|
|METZ, LORETTA - Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS, USDA)|
Submitted to: Rangelands
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/24/2012
Publication Date: 2/1/2013
Citation: Spaeth, K., Weltz, M.A., Briske, D., Jolley, L.J., Metz, L.J., Rossi, C.G. 2013. Rangeland CEAP: An assessment of conservation practices. Rangelands. 35:2-10.
Interpretive Summary: This rangeland synthesis establishes a precedent for formalized ongoing partnerships among scientists, land managers, conservation specialists, and policymakers. These partnerships can assist NRCS in providing the most up-to-date science-based information for rangeland conservation practice standards. NRCS is developing a process to review all its grazing land conservation practices based on the findings in this book and additional published material where possible to define quantitative metrics to evaluate the impacts of both individual practices and suites of conservation practices (e.g. resource management systems). To document the impacts of conservation NRCS is investigating the options of implementing a producer monitoring system and associated data management systems to quantify ecosystem impacts and provide the foundational data for modifying conservation practices in the future to achieve the desired targeted benefits.
Technical Abstract: The NRCS uses science-based technology to provide conservation planning and assistance to land owners and land operators to maintain productive lands and healthy ecosystems. Evaluating science-based literature on effectiveness of rangeland conservation practices is an important first step as it provides a valuable source of information and the synthesis will serve as a “living document” that can be updated as new scientific information is available. The comprehensive literature synthesis of peer-reviewed scientific research “broadly supports” many of the conservation practice standard purposes. The synthesis identifies a lack of research that specifically applies to conservation practices as a common occurring theme. The research community has not often conducted long-term studies (>10 years) to document ecosystem outcomes, including both ecosystem goods and services derived from implementing conservation practices. Similarly, the USDA has not emphasized or funded either short- or long-term monitoring investigations following the implementation of conservation practices because the benefits were assumed to be self-evident or that they were too costly or difficult to obtain. In general, natural resource research is focused on short-term challenges, with less attention and fewer resources devoted to long-term and fundamental research. Also, very few rangeland research efforts seek to incorporate the “human factor” that is key to making long-term changes in management or practice application successful. A new mechanism of funding research and changes in agencies polices and program that focus on long term (i.e., >10 years) monitoring of impacts of conservation is required to document cost-effectiveness of conservation. This research should focus on what new technologies and monitoring systems are needed to observe and measure the important abiotic and biotic variables in a cost-effective and timely manner to meet the needs of adaptive management required of producers and federal and state agencies at local, regional, and national scales.