Using livestock grazing to manage multiple ecosystem services in rangelands
Research interests: The role of cattle grazing systems on the production of stakeholder-valued ecosystem services such as livestock production, range sustainability, sage grouse habitat, and healthy riparian systems. Rangeland restoration and biodiversity conservation.
Study Area: Rich County, Utah
- Quantify how grazing systems affect livestock distribution at the landscape scale
- Examine how different grazing systems affect provision of ecosystem services
- Determine which ecosystem services affect stakeholder management decisions
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.
This project will provide initial data linking livestock distribution to the provision of multiple stakeholder-valued ecosystem services. We expect the research accomplished using UAES extension grant funds will both improve the management of rangelands in Utah by empowering stakeholders to make informed decisions about how to best manage for desired suites of ecosystem services
We are currently supported by a Utah Agricultural Experiment Station Seed Grant, an USU Extension Grant, The Wildland Resources Department at USU, the Office of Research and Graduate Studies at USU, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Our team of seven University professors at Utah State (Kris Hulvey, Eric Thacker, Doug Ramsey, Mark Brunson, Terry Messmer, Kari Veblen, and Beth Burrett) have partnered the BLM, NRCS, the Utah Grazing Improvement Program (GIP), and Deseret Land and Livestock, to conduct our research on public and private lands in Rich County, Utah.