Improved Management to Balance Production and Conservation in Great Plains Rangelands

Thursday, October 23, 2014: 1:45 PM
Meridian D/E (Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center)
Maria Fernandez-Gimenez , Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
Justin Derner , USDA Agricultural Research Service, Cheyenne, WY
David Augustine , USDA Agricultural Research Service, Fort Collins, CO
The Adaptive Grazing Management experiment at the Central Plains Experimental Range (CPER) addresses important gaps in our current understanding of grazing management including: (1) management-science partnerships to more fully understand the effect of management decisions, particularly adaptive management, on grazing management outcomes, (2) management practices that optimize both livestock production and conservation benefits, as society expects rangelands to produce multiple outcomes, and (3) ranch-scale experiments to evaluate the effects of grazing management on both production and conservation goals.  The intent of this new experiment is to utilize a novel, collaborative approach with a Stakeholder Group to identify rangeland management and conservation practices that can be implemented to achieve multiple goals, including livestock production and conservation benefits. As the experiment incorporates different ecological sites and highly variable environmental conditions, results will mimic real-world approaches to managing semiarid rangelands. Adaptive management, or applying the principles of experimental design to natural resource management, is a key ingredient of this experiment because it allows managers to learn from their management actions and to make necessary adjustments in response to changing conditions. Having control pastures against which to compare the effects of adaptive management strategies is critical as these pastures provide a baseline against which to assess management effects in the face of fluctuating weather conditions. Inviting a diverse Stakeholder Group to collaborate in the experiment encourages innovation and identification of strategies that achieve a variety of goals.