- Water Resources and Conservation
- Land Use and Health
- Urban, Rural Wildlands Mosaic
- Sustainable Communities and Their Cultures
- Initiated by a coalition of five land-grant universities (California, Idaho, Oregon, Nevada and Utah) in states containing parts of the Great Basin, and its agencies in these states, the Great Basin Environmental Program (GBEP) was funded by a Special Grant of $200,000 from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), USDA, received in 2007.
- Following the initial funding, in-kind and small grants from demonstration projects have come from a variety of sources focusing on late season grazing and fuel load control. These have included: The Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, Oregon Beef Council, Harney County Court (Burns, OR), Roaring Springs Ranch and Drewsy Field Ranch (both from OR), and the Burns District of the BLM.
- In 2013 and 2014, the project was partially funded by the Public Lands Council for additional demonstration and research projects: $50,000 in 2013 and $16,000 in 2014.
- During 2014, the USDA ARS funded a three-year research project designated for the Newmont Ranch in Dunphy, NV at about $290,000 for the the first year in addition to in-kind resources from the Reno and Burns stations of USDA ARS.
- The Nevada Agricultural Experiment Station has allocated approximately $250,000 to the Great Basin Environmental Program since its inception.
- Funding from other land grants and state agencies.
- Efforts continue with federal agencies to acquire additional funding for research, demonstrations and for organization of the GBEP.
- The funding is used for on-the-ground projects, including demonstrations and research efforts; education at universities and for the public; and administrations. The approximate proportions are: 70% research and demonstration projects; 25% education; and 5% administration.
- The in-kind funding of the Great Basin is approximately two times that of cash grants. Thus, from 2007 until the current year, we have allocated about $1.75 million to the program.
The main contributors to the research, demonstrations and management of the GBEP have been the University of Nevada College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources (CABNR) and the USDA ARS stations at Burns, OR and Reno, NV. Support of the other land grants has been mainly through their Agricultural Experiment Stations, which are loosely following the attack on invasive species through late season grazing of cheatgrass and other methods to control fuel loads.
UNR’s Gund Ranch, north of Austin, NV, a part of CABNR, conducted an initial pilot demonstration.
- UNR faculty member in charge: Barry Perryman
- Initiated in 2007 and is continuing
- 750 acres, 150 head of cattle, 45-day grazing period in the fall of each year
- Cheatgrass and other invasive species significantly reduced after three years of treatment
- Cattle gained weight (1 – 1.5 pounds per day) during project
- The pasture is now dominated by crested wheatgrass, native bunch grasses and shrubs.
Roaring Springs Ranch, Frenchglen, OR, private land
- UNR faculty members in charge: Barry Perryman and Bob Alverts
- Initiated in 2012 and continuing
- 1,400 acres, 1,600 head of cattle, 60 day grazing period in year one
- Cheatgrass reduced from 1,500 to 2,000 lbs. to less than 200 lbs. per acre after initial grazing treatment
- Perennial grasses and shrubs re-establishing on grazed pasture
- UNR faculty members in charge: Barry Perryman and Bob Alverts
- Initiated in 2012 and continuing
- 14,000 acres, 333 cattle, 90 days grazing period in year one
- 14,000 acres, 437 cattle, 114 day grazing period in year two
- Cheatgrass and other invasive plants significantly reduced
- Cattle gained ~1 lb. per day
- Crested wheatgrass, native bunch grass and shrubs now re-establishing dominance
- Fuel loads reduced from 500-600 lbs. per acre to less than 200 lbs. per acre
- Ranchers saved approximately $50 per head per month using this tool
Bell Ranch, Imlay, NV
- Cheatgrass monoculture
- Project initiated in December 2014
Establishment of Forb Islands to Enhance Biodiversity, (Fort Hall Indian Reservation, ID; Blue Creek Experiment Station, UT; Nephi Experiment Station, UT)
Public land management agencies (BLM, FS) are interested in expanding the biodiversity of rangeland plantings by establishing forb species in rangeland revegetation/restoration projects. Besides enhancing biodiversity, forbs provide forage for wildlife, livestock, sage-grouse and native pollinators. However, the establishment of forbs on rangelands is challenging with conventional revegetation/restoration methods, and the BLM and FS have had only limited success in establishing forb species in large-scale rangeland plantings. We will examine whether snow fences can increase the establishment of native forbs. These forb islands could in turn serve as focal areas for the production and dissemination of forb seeds to colonize adjacent rangeland areas.
Using livestock grazing to manage multiple ecosystem services in rangelands (Rich County, Utah)
This spring we started working on a private ranch (Deseret Land and Livestock) and BLM lands in Rich County, UT to determine how two different cattle grazing systems affect the production of ecosystem services across landscapes. The two systems include continuous turn-out and a short-term, high intensity rotational system. In this initial stage of the project we are looking for the effects of grazing system on livestock production, range sustainability, sage grouse habitat, and riparian health. Since public lands permittees, government managers, and private landowners ultimately make the decision of how to graze livestock, we will be interviewing these various groups to determine additional ecosystem services to monitor that may influence management decisions. Because cheatgrass is a key concern of ranchers in Utah, the effect of grazing system on the abundance and invasion of this weed will likely be added to the ecosystem services monitored in the second year of this work.
TS Ranch, Dunphy, NV (owned by Newmont Mining Company)
During October and November of 2014, year one of a three-year planned project was initiated on the TS Ranch. The main objective was cheatgrass management and fuel reduction; however, there are other aspects of the cattle late-season grazing experiment that will assure that the project is beneficial and environmentally sound. These are: estimating the importance of thatch in regrowth of cheatgrass, careful measurement of rates of gain, the condition of cattle, soil movement, and economic evaluation. These secondary objectives will begin later in 2015.
- Initiated in 2013 and continuing
- UNR faculty member in charge: Barry Perryman, post-doc Mitch Stephenson, and researchers from the Reno and Burns ARS stations
- 6,000 acres and 800 cattle grazing approximately two months per year
- Collaborators: Tony Svejcar, Chad Boyd, and Kirk Davies with the USDA-ARS at the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center
- Cheatgrass and other invasives significantly reduced after the first year
- Cattle gained 2 lbs. per day
- Crested wheatgrass, native bunch grass and shrubs appear to remain
To date the Porter canyon Experimental project has; 1. the only fully instrumented watershed project in the Great Basin, 2. a complete watershed scale water budget model, 3. Desatoya habit restoration project (NEPA), and cooperative work with a number of agencies including USDA ARS, USFWS, Smith Creek Ranch, BLM, USDA NRCS, and the Desert Research Institute.
Porter Canyon Experimental Project
- UNR Faculty member in charge: Tamzen Stringham and collaborators from USDA ARS, USFWS, Smith Creek Ranch, BLM, USDA NRCS, and the Desert Research Institute
- Fully instrumented watershed
- Sapflow Probes on Pinion and Juniper on hillslopes and in Valley (48 sensors)
- Methods to measure sagebrush sapflow (sensors 12)
- Soil moisture probes (sensors 72)
- Groundwater monitoring piezometers (sensors 26)
- Instrumented springs (sensors 2)
- Flumes (sensors 4)
- Sonic sensors (sensors 12)
- Cameras to assess phenology (sensors 6)
- Vegetation transects in meadows and hillsides
- NRCS scan station
- Watershed scale water budget model
- Desatoya habitat project underway
- Experiments to measure
- Canopy interception
- Soil runoff and sediment yield
Specific experiment projects listed in results section.
To date, the late season grazing research and demonstration projects have: 1. significantly reduced fuels in grazed pastures; 2. resulted in improved plant communities; 3. resulted in livestock weight gains and positive economic benefits to ranchers.
To date, the Porter Canyon experimental project has; 1. the only fully instrumented watershed project in the Great Basin, 2. a complete watershed scale water budget model, 3. Desatoya habit restoration project (NEPA), and cooperative work with a number of agencies including USDA ARS, USFWS, Smith Creek Ranch, BLM, USDA NRCS, and the Desert Research Institute.
Research and Demonstration Projects
- Study area: Burns District Stinking water near Drewsey and Riddle Mountain near Happy Valley, OR, respectively
- Objectives are to determine seasonal forage quality of medusahead and evaluate the performance of cattle grazing the medusahead, and cattle responses to medusahead invasion
- Grazing preference was strong for crested wheatgrass compared to medusahead
- CP for crested wheatgrass was higher May through June but declined late in the season to similar values to medusahead
- TDN for crested wheatgrass were 3 – 4.5 % higher in May but but not different than medusahead in other periods
- Cattle normally avoid medusahead when nutrition impacts are low but graze it when nutrition impacts are higher
- Location at 5 sites in Eastern Oregon, near the Towns of Crane and Riverside
- Objectives were to determine effective treatments for controlling medusahead and select appropriate materials for revegetation
- Initial results suggest that prescribed burning followed by applications of imazapic controlled medusahead
- Results suggest that revegetation success after medusahead control was higher with introduced species that with native species.
- Determining if imazapic can be applied simultaneously with seed treatments
- Location of study area was at 5 sites near Crane and Riverside, OR
- Seeding directly after application of imazapic is not viable
- Waiting one year between application of imazapic and reseeding achieved the best results
- Failure to gain initial establishment of seeded perennial grasses leads to re-invason of medusahead
- Location 6 sites in Eastern Oregon near the town of Crane
- Objectives are determine the effectiveness of burning and various herbicides for spring control of medusahead and the best treatments for establishment of perennial grasses
- Preliminary results are not available at the time of the development of this web page.