Range Management is a distinct discipline founded on ecological principles and dealing with the use of rangelands and range resources for a variety of purposes. These purposes include use as watersheds, wildlife habitat, grazing by livestock, recreation, and aesthetics, as well as other associated uses.
Developing a plan for using rangeland resources requires information about the productive capability of the rangelands, current condition, intended use, and land owner objectives. Assistance with inventorying resources is available through local Conservation Districts and Natural Resource Conservation Service offices.
When developing a plan for the rangeland resources, first consideration must be given to management of the vegetation resource through the use of a prescribed grazing system.
The prescription should take into account periods of grazing, deferment, rest, animal impact, and levels of use that will bring about desired changes in the plant community.
The second consideration in developing a plan is identifying those practices necessary to implement the desired prescribed grazing system. These practices help control or influence the movement of livestock necessary for uniform distribution of grazing. These practices may include water developments, fencing, salting, stock trails, and herding.
When the vegetation management resulting from the prescribed grazing does not achieve the desired changes in the plant community within a reasonable length of time, one or more supplementary practices may need to be planned and applied to help accelerate the desired change. These practices often result in dramatic changes in the plant community and should be carefully planned and applied, with special follow-up management to insure they are effective and achieve the desired change. Some of the practices to consider are seeding, brush management, prescribed burning, fertilizing, mechanical treatment, and water spreading.
There are areas that may require special consideration in developing management plans. This may include areas of sensitive soils, unique plants, riparian areas, adjacent land uses, recreation and historical sites.
Coordinated Resource Management
In areas where there are more than one ownership involved in the land unit being planned or desired uses conflict within the planning area, Coordinated Resource Management (CRM) may be an alternative. CRM is a cooperative method to resolve renewable resource management problems. It is a tool for coordinating resource planning, management and educational activities with local agencies, private landowners and others. It is a team approach at the local level that promotes active participation and input from everyone concerned with developing and implementing sound resource management and conservation programs. It results in improved communication, increased understanding of each other's viewpoints, an atmosphere of mutual respect and resolution of resource conflicts.
Once a plan is developed and the identified practices are being applied the resource needs to be monitored to see if the desired changes are occurring. Monitoring may be short term such as observation of the grazing use levels on specified plants to help make immediate management decisions such as moving livestock. To determine if the desired changes in the plant community are occurring will require longer term monitoring that will show changes in the numbers, kinds, and vigor of the plants in the community as well as impacts on habitat, water, soil, and animals.