Final report for EW17-006

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2017: $71,503.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2019
Grant Recipient: University of Arizona
Region: Western
State: Arizona
Principal Investigator:
George Ruyle
University of Arizona
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Project Information

Abstract:

Building on case studies of new vegetation management strategies at the landscape level from Arizona and New Mexico, three collaborative and interrelated workshops were held for Extension and NRCS personnel, non-profits, landowners, and other stakeholders. Participants had opportunities to learn about historic and current trends in climate conditions and woody species management, treatment options, regulatory issues, and identification of conservation action sites.  Rangeland Extension and technology specialists at the University of Arizona in collaboration with the Altar Valley Conservation Alliance, NRCS, and the Rangelands Partnership (1) organized and implemented three workshops, (2) documented workshops and shared stories through video, and (3) implemented a social media campaign before, during, and after workshops to engage stakeholders throughout the West, (4) adapted videos and workshop materials for the web, and incorporated them into RangelandsWest.org as a Highlighted Topic to extend learning opportunities.

Project Objectives:

This project provided intensive training opportunities on historic and current trends in climate conditions, brush and woody species control in the Southwest, treatment options, and implementation of grassland restoration projects under current conditions. Building on case studies of vegetation management experiences from Arizona and New Mexico, three collaborative and interrelated full-day workshops, coupled with a concentrated outreach and support program, were held for Extension and NRCS personnel, non-profits, landowners, and other stakeholders during 2017-19 in Southern Arizona.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Sarah King (Educator)
  • Sheila Merrigan (Educator)
  • Barbara Hutchinson (Educator)

Education

Educational approach:

Rangeland Extension and technology specialists at the University of Arizona in collaboration with the Altar Valley Conservation Alliance, NRCS, and the Rangelands Partnership organized and held three brush management workshops for a variety of stakeholders in Southwestern U.S.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Brush Management Workshop #1 of 3
Objective:

Project objectives for 2017 were to organize the first brush management workshop held on January 23, 2018 including logistics, speaker arrangements, social media announcements, and preparation of preliminary video productions.

Description:

The collaborative project team successfully held the first of the three brush management workshops on January 23, 2018.  Titled, “Historical Perspectives and Current Trends: Brush and Woody Species Management and Environmental Conditions on Southwestern Grasslands”, the workshop was held at the Santa Rita Experiment Range in southwestern Arizona.  Registered participants numbered 29 people representing ranchers and Cooperative Extension and agency personnel (13 agencies, 7 ranchers, 5 NGOs, 4 Cooperative Extension).  However, seven participants were unable to attend due to the government shutdown.  The workshop included five formal presentations with time for questions and answers, a discussion session, the premier of several brush management videos, and a field trip to several sites demonstrating the results of different brush management strategies.  Presentations were video-taped.  Each participant received a packet of materials including a summary of each presentation with a list of references for additional information and a conservation project implementation strategy checklist.  Pre- and Post- workshop evaluation surveys were conducted, and social media was used extensively before and during the workshop.

Outcomes and impacts:

Short Term:  Participants had the opportunity to hear and discuss the following presentations:  History and current status of the SRER (Mark Heitlenger, SRER); Grasslands and mesquite on the SRER, a historic perspective (Mitch McClaran and Elise Gornish, UA SNRE); Vegetation change and mesquite control in Southeastern Arizona (Dan Robinett, retired NRCS); Vegetative changes in Chihuahuan desert grasslands in New Mexico (Amy Ganguli, NMSU); and Southwestern climate trends (Mike Crimmins, UACE).  They gained knowledge about brush and woody species management options in times of changing regulatory requirements and climate conditions.

Medium Term:  Results of the pre- and post- workshop evaluations are being tabulated from the first workshop and videos of the presentations are being edited for uploading to the new “brush management” topic page on http://GlobalRangelands.org/RangelandsWest.org.  The URL to the overall brush management workshop website is:  https://globalrangelands.org/brush-management-workshops; the URL to the presentations, handouts, and videos from the first workshop is: https://globalrangelands.org/wsare-brush-workshop-1-agenda-presentations-and-videos.  Both Facebook and Twitter accounts from the Rangelands Partnership and the Altar Valley Conservation Alliance were used to announce the workshop and to post current messages resulting from the workshop. https://www.facebook.com/RangelandsWest/ ; https://twitter.com/RangelandsPartn

https://www.facebook.com/AltarValleyConservationAlliance/ ; https://twitter.com/AltarValley

Video productions aired for the first brush management workshop were two “Common Ground” videos made available through the Rangeland Partnership’s YouTube Channel and playlists:

Common Ground: Cross Watershed Conversations on Finding Brush Management Solutions

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DngzpYqVL_c&list=PL9bs98fSwEjTqCFuB86bboP1pMVOb5pyy

Brush Management Research:  Brush Management Series

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KzpN4oH20_4&index=2&list=PL9bs98fSwEjRHyd8nhIcgZKfCxot-lXUX

Brush Management Workshop #2 of 3
Objective:

Project objectives for 2018 included organizing the second brush management workshop held on April 19, 2018 at the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. This involved managing logistics, speaker arrangements, social media announcements, and preparation of video productions.

Description:

The collaborative project team successfully held the second of the three brush management workshops on April 19, 2018. Titled, “Brush and Woody Species Management and Methods in a Changing Environment: Sharing Stories”, the workshop was held at the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Arizona. Registered participants numbered 43 people representing ranchers and Cooperative Extension and agency personnel (16 agencies, 5 ranchers, 8 NGOs, 7 Edu/Cooperative Extension, 7 Others).  The workshop included four formal presentations and three case studies with time for questions and answers, discussions, the premier of another brush management video, and a field trip to sites demonstrating the results of different brush management strategies. Presentations were video-taped. Each participant received a packet of materials including a summary of each presentation. Pre- and Post- workshop evaluation surveys were conducted, and social media was used extensively before and during the workshop.

Outcomes and impacts:

Short Term: Participants had the opportunity to hear and discuss the following presentations: Brush management and ecosystem services: a quantification of trade-offs (Adam Naito, UA); Brush management and limy ecological sites in southeastern Arizona (Dan Robinett, retired NRCS); Wildlife needs and brush management (Rana Tucker, Arizona Game and Fish); and Aerial application techniques for grassland restoration (Barry Wallace, consultant). They gained knowledge about brush and woody species management strategies employed in different and real-life settings.

Medium Term: Results of the pre- and post- workshop evaluations were tabulated from the second workshop and videos of the presentations were uploaded to the new “brush management” topic page on https://globalrangelands.org/rangelandswest. The URL to the overall brush management workshop website is: https://globalrangelands.org/brush-management-workshops; the URL to the presentations, handouts, and videos from the second workshop is: https://globalrangelands.org/wsare-brush-workshop-2-agenda-presentations-and-videos. Both Facebook and Twitter accounts from the Rangelands Partnership and the Altar Valley Conservation Alliance were used to announce the workshop and to post current messages resulting from the workshop. https://www.facebook.com/RangelandsWest/ ; https://twitter.com/RangelandsPartn ; https://www.facebook.com/AltarValleyConservationAlliance/ ; https://twitter.com/AltarValley

The video production aired for the second brush management workshop and made available through the Rangeland Partnership’s YouTube Channel and playlists was: Clara’s Story: Brush Management Series – Healthy Rangelands: Future Land Stewards and Brush Management – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbmIHsn1TS0&index=3&list=PL9bs98fSwEjRHyd8nhIcgZKfCxot-lXUX

Brush Management Workshop #3 of 3
Objective:

Project objectives for 2018 included organizing the third brush management workshop held on October 4, 2018 at the Anvil Ranch in the Altar Valley, AZ. This involved managing logistics, speaker arrangements, social media announcements, and preparation of video productions.

Description:

The collaborative project team successfully held the third of the three brush management workshops on October 4, 2018. Titled, “Working with Landowners and Collaborative Groups to Apply Knowledge”, the workshop was held at the Anvil Ranch in the Altar Valley, southwestern Arizona. Registered participants numbered 39 people representing ranchers and Cooperative Extension and agency personnel as well as others (17 agencies, 6 ranchers, 5 NGOs, 5 Cooperative Extension, 1 student, 1 non-CE educator and 4 private). The workshop included four formal presentations as well as small and large group discussion sessions. Two additional brush management videos, including the culminating video that was featured on the PBS show, Arizona Illustrated, also were viewed. Presentations were video-taped. Each participant received a packet of materials and Pre- and Post- workshop evaluation surveys were conducted. Social media was used extensively before and during the workshop.

Outcomes and impacts:

Short Term: Participants had the opportunity to hear and discuss the following presentations: Recap of Big Themes from First Two Workshops with Discussion – Elise Gornish (University of Arizona); Conservation Planning and Brush Management Tools – Kristen Egen (Natural Resources Conservation Service, Tucson Field Office); Site Selection Strategies and Possible Treatments, with Break Out Groups & Reports – Dan Robinett (AVCA consultant; formerly NRCS); and Monitoring Protocols and Tools ~ From Sky Down and Ground Up – Sarah Noelle (University of Arizona) and Robert Davis (AVCA consultant). Participants were presented with a StoryMap that included maps, data, and additional resources as well as a Brush Management Matrix. They also participated in small group discussions on lessons learned and next steps.

Medium Term: Results of the pre- and post- workshop evaluations were tabulated from the third workshop and videos of the presentations were uploaded to the “brush management” topic page on https://globalrangelands.org/rangelandswest. The URL to the overall brush management workshop website is: https://globalrangelands.org/brush-management-workshops; the URL to the presentations, handouts, and videos from the third workshop is: https://globalrangelands.org/wsare-brush-workshop-3-agenda-presentations-and-videos. Both Facebook and Twitter accounts from the Rangelands Partnership and the Altar Valley Conservation Alliance were used to announce the workshop and to post current messages resulting from the workshop. https://www.facebook.com/RangelandsWest/ ; https://twitter.com/RangelandsPartn ; https://www.facebook.com/AltarValleyConservationAlliance/ ; https://twitter.com/AltarValley

Video productions aired for the third brush management workshop and made available through the Rangeland Partnership’s YouTube Channel and playlists included: Brush Management Series: Control Gullies, Control Brush, Save Grasslands! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYQFvgmXinQ&list=PL9bs98fSwEjRHyd8nhIcgZKfCxot-lXUX&index=4 ; and the culminating video that was featured on the PBS series, Arizona Illustrated, was also premiered: Common Ground – Brush Management Series https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wBhkB9Uy9c

Application of Workshop Learnings in the Altar Valley
Objective:

Following the Brush Management Workshop series, during January-March 2019, various projects and initiatives in the Altar Valley have utilized and further developed resources and information gained through the workshops.

Description:

Following completion of the workshops, partners in the Altar Valley Conservation Alliance have extended the learnings into practical application. To this end, multiple brush treatment projects have been planned and implemented with deliberate and explicit consideration of site potential, monitoring needs, maintenance, and follow-up treatments – all topics emphasized at the workshops. These projects utilize diverse methods including grubbing, prescribed fire, and herbicide. The results are providing insights into the timing, maintenance needs, treatment sequencing, and ideal environmental conditions related to the different methods that will inform future projects. Involved in these activities is a broad group of partners who are part of the Altar Valley Watershed Restoration Planning process and who are working on preparing a Watershed Restoration Plan.  Part of this process is the further development and application of the “Brush Management Matrix” presented in Workshop 3 [ https://globalrangelands.org/sites/globalrangelands.org/files/Brush%20Management%20Matrix%20-%20Working%20Draft%20-%20AVCA-SARE%20Brush%20Management%20Workshop%20Oct%202018.pdf ]

In addition, geospatial resources continue to be refined to assess current vegetation conditions in the Valley – specifically data from Range Health Evaluations – and a GIS layer showing the percentage of woody versus non-woody vegetation cover has been created.  Similarly, the StoryMap from the third workshop is also being used to describe vegetation work being done in the Altar Valley, as well as to exemplify an efficient format for interpretive materials.

 

Outcomes and impacts:

These resources are already being used by other groups; for instance in Pima County’s upcoming plan for mitigation lands in the Altar Valley as well as to inform proposed actions at the Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. The geospatial data on woody and herbaceous cover are informing research being conducted by University of Arizona researchers studying mesquite encroachment, including the work of a PhD student who has recently joined the AVCA Science Advisory Board.

In summary, the rich discussions and products created through the Brush Management Workshop series are propelling more informed, efficient, and collaborative efforts for vegetation management in the Altar Valley and beyond.  This project has given practitioners access to updated ideas and tools for implementing brush control projects, new partners to share resources and knowledge with, and new perspectives on the goals and benefits of brush control that have empowered participants to seek innovative ways to support vegetation management into the future.

Educational & Outreach Activities

14 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
2 On-farm demonstrations
3 Tours
18 Webinars / talks / presentations
3 Workshop field days

Participation Summary

16 Extension
5 NRCS
18 Nonprofit
41 Agency
18 Farmers/ranchers
13 Others

Learning Outcomes

106 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
45 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

47 New working collaborations
Project outcomes:

This project resulted in the successful completion of three brush management workshops in southern Arizona involving academic/extension, NRCS/agencies, ranchers/producers, and NGO participants.  All objectives were met including capturing all presentations on video and making them available through a project/topical website on Rangelandswest.org.  Also included on the website are workshop materials including fact sheets and presentation summaries. A series of featured videos on different aspects of brush management were developed and made available to the public, with the culminating video featured on the PBS Show: Arizona Illustrated.  Social media as well as AVCA and Rangelands Partnership newsletters were used to extend knowledge of the workshops beyond the in-person participants.

42 Agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
16 Farmers reached through participant's programs
Additional Outcomes:

Collaborating organization, Altar Valley Conservation Alliance, was able to extend their activities into 2019 due to a balance of funding from their sub-award.  The focus was Watershed Restoration planning.  Tools created as a result of the three brush workshops were further developed and applied specifically for ecological sites in the Altar Valley in southern Arizona.  The matrix (developed for workshop 3) supported the selection of sites and methods for restoration projects involving brush control.  This will eventually extend to beyond the Altar Valley.

Success stories:

Quotes from Participants:

“This was a very valuable collaboration – really neat to interact with science and agency types.  Would like to see this model of learning applied to other topics.”

“Choosing the right treatment type requires a lot of knowledge and experience…and monitoring is an important key.”

“Brush management is an ongoing process – maintenance is critical.  Made progress on thinking through how to choose the most important sites for work.”

“The treatment matrix will be very helpful in evaluating future projects.  It is helpful to think through the process when designing projects.”

“Great people, excellent programs.”

 

Recommendations:

Suggestions from Participants:

“A monitoring workshop session would be interesting, as this was addressed as something that happens the least.  So many of us do not know how to create a monitoring plan.”

“Ongoing information and examples of projects – success stories and/or thoughts about why they didn’t work.”

“Doing an actual project as a group would be beneficial to help inexperienced people get practice.”

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.