Ranchers implement range monitoring

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RBC I As good stewards of the land, ranchers continually strive to improve their management of the rangelands. Five local ranchers have taken advantage of the Douglas Creek and White River Conservation Districts’ Rangeland Monitoring Training Program.
The districts are charged through Colorado State statute to prepare a plan for the natural resources within their respective boundaries. Therefore, the Douglas Creek and White River Conservation Districts hosted long range planning sessions in 2010 to hear landowners’ natural resource concerns. Rangeland health was identified as one of the top natural resource priorities in both districts. Therefore, it has been a focus for the districts.
The Douglas Creek District received a grant from the Colorado State Conservation Board and the Rio Blanco Grazing Board to provide rangeland monitoring training in 2012. Twenty six landowners and land management agency personnel attended the District hosted Colorado Resource Management Initiative (CRMI) workshop this past June to learn more about how to conduct and analyze rangeland monitoring. The definition of rangeland monitoring is, “the orderly, repeated collection, analysis and interpretation of resource information (data). It can be used to guide both short and long-term adaptive management decisions.” Attendees received training on the various ways to conduct monitoring and hands-on data collection.
A one-day training session doesn’t necessarily prepare a landowner to implement a monitoring program. Therefore, the District offered landowners the opportunity to receive additional help in developing and implementing a range monitoring program on their respective ranch operations including their grazing permits. The Twin Buttes Ranch, Burke Bros. Ranch, LOV Ranch, Lopez Livestock Inc., and Wyatt Ranches all participated. When including a grazing permit, the program requires a coordinated approach with the land management agency. Each rancher met with a team consisting of the district executive director, Callie Hendrickson; district contracted rangeland specialist, Mark Hafkenschiel; and their respective BLM range specialist to identify the areas of focus and monitoring plan. Throughout the summer and fall, the ranchers worked with Hafkenschiel to set up monitoring sites and collect data that will be entered into the CRMI database hosted by the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association. The database is designed to provide reports that will be used by the ranchers and partners to make the best rangeland management decisions.