Rangeland Monitoring in Nevada

The Contract Stewardship Program is beginning to plan for the summer field season and it looks like it will be another busy summer. Recently, the Conservation Research Center of Teton Science Schools began working with a new client in Nevada to begin the process of renewing their grazing permits on federal lands. The process of grazing permit renewal is generally an extensive one that may take several years to complete. This summer, the Conservation Research Center will focus on collecting field data at approximately 28 upland range key areas and 36 riparian and wetland key areas spread across the nearly 1 million acres of rangeland that the ranch grazes. At every upland key area, data is collected to evaluate changes in plant species composition, ground surface cover percentages, herbage production, and utilization. At the riparian and wetland areas, a qualitative method is used to determine the functionality of creeks, springs, and seeps in regards to hydrology, vegetation, and erosion/deposition qualities. Data collected at these sites provide a quantitative and qualitative way to compare current data with data collected by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as many as 30 years ago. The Conservation Research Center, the ranch, and the BLM will use these data to evaluate possible changes in the management of the ranch that could be implemented to enhance the many natural resources found on the ranch. These alternatives further aid in the sustainability and production of the ranching operation because the best alternatives for sagebrush-steppe ecosystems are often the best alternatives for ranching within these areas.

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