Progress report for WRGR22-005
In 1996 Cottonwood Ranch began practicing Holistic Resource Management with funding from SARE for Ranchers. Refer to 2007 SARE publication: Agee Smith Profile
A collaborative team was formed, which included ranches, Federal and State agencies, surrounding Universities, local community leaders and general public. Twenty-five years later it continues to be active with many participants returning year after year. This collaboration has expanded into an even greater area with the Sustainable Agriculture of Northeast Elko (SANE) and Nevada Collaborative Conservation Networks. The Cottonwood Ranch facilities offer a unique networking and learning environment enabling attendees and teachers to share experiences and ideas.
The ranch was put into experimental status with the Federal agencies to demonstrate intensive grazing management. Since the original SARE funding Cottonwood Ranch has successfully implemented: FW 04-207: Improving intake on big sagebrush by cattle in fall and winter to reduce feed cost and improve biodiversity and productivity in the sagebrush steppe. Cottonwood Ranch also participated in EW 17–025: Grazing Strategy Indices for Range Quality Assurance.
The experiments were and continue to be very successful range management practices including a 68% improvement in riparian conditions. The ranch is also working on their historically flood irrigated meadows that have been depleted in nutrients, organic matter and living organisms and has made significant strides by using cover cropping, livestock management and irrigation water management to improve soil tilth. The ranch has held various natural resources workshops. Prior to Covid 19 they had held an annual Stockmanship workshop instructed by Steve Cote, Roger Ingram and Whit Hibbard. Cottonwood Ranch's location and lodging facilities lends itself to be an ideal spot to hold land management workshops on a working livestock operation bringing hands on experiences to the participants.
Our project objectives are as follows:
- Increase knowledge and acceptance of new resource management practices (soils, stockmanship, monitoring, riparian health) through experiencial learning. Some areas that will be covered are virtual fencing, livestock grazing practices, bioengineering, fish ladders, encouraging beaver habitat, carbon holding potential of soils and soil health, and the State of Nevada Sage-Grouse conservation program.
- To provide a locally conducive learning environment for Land Managers on a working ranch.
- To provide a venue of comfort amongst like-minded individuals thus promoting a safe place to ask questions, discuss concepts and provide observations based on their life experiences.
- Conduct at least seven workshops over the next two growing seasons.
- To bring the university research and various outside knowledge to the rural areas. Holding these workshops in a environment that our audience is comfortable being in will help folks who prefer a rural venue vs. having to travel to a big city for education.
The State of Nevada has limited educational opportunities for Ranchers and Resource Managers. In order for them to stay current with the latest developments, skills, and new technologies required for their field, continuing education is required. Our goal is to provide a learning center on a working ranch operation that will bring varied educational opportunities locally as well as offering them to a broader geographical audience in the industry of Agricultural and Natural Resource Land Management.
The ranch has previously participated in the following SARE grants:
FW 04-207: Improving intake on big sagebrush by cattle in fall and winter to reduce feed cost and improve biodiversity and productivity in the sagebrush steppe.
EW 17 – 025: Grazing Strategy Indices for Range Quality Assurance.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
Increase knowledge and acceptance of new resource management practices through experiential learning.
Some areas that will be covered are virtual fencing, livestock grazing, bioengineering, encouraging beaver habitat, carbon holding potential of soils, soil health, and sage grouse conservation.
To provide a local learning environment for individuals interested in land management on a working ranch. Thus, providing a safe place to ask questions, discuss concepts and provide observations based on their life experiences.
Educational & Outreach Activities
We had 4 different workshops:
Soil Health and Management Workshop, taught by Nicole Masters. There were 16 participants.
Soil Health workshop for the Intertribal Agricultural Council, taught by NRCS. Had 8 participants.
Plant Identification Workshop, taught by Gerry Miller and Paul Meiman. Had 10 participants.
Range States and Transition Model, taught by Tamzen Stringham. Had 10 participants
We had 4 workshops that that showed and taught different aspects of Agriculture in the high desert.
They learned about soil health and its importance, how to look at a piece of range and evaluate its state of health, and identifying plants on the range.
There were a total of 44 participants.
You don't know what you don't know.
Livestock are users of the land and can be abusers of the land, but they can also be rehabilitators of the land.