Achieving Rangeland Sustainability Through Total Resource Management
Ranch and rangeland sustainability is dependent upon managing all resources to achieve healthy functioning ecosystems and financial survival of the landowner. Ranching success depends upon the ability of the manager to utilize all resources to meet personal goals and those of society. The project has developed and conducted training programs for agency personnel in Total Resource Management. TRM emphasizes the organization and use of all resources to achieve goals and objectives where decisions are based on a strategic management process that encompasses ecological, economic and socially viable options and practices.
- Involve producers and appropriate resource managers in planning, implementing and evaluating various phases of the project.
Develop training materials and program support resources including:
a) Develop training manual, 12 fact sheets, 3 software packages, and a website as program support materials;
b) Assist in development of an interactive Electronic Technology Transfer System to support TRM program.
Develop and conduct 4 three-session workshops to train 80 County Extension Agents (CEA’s) and NRCS Conservationist along with other Agency personnel over a two-year period.
Enlarge the thinking and change the paradigms of participants from single components to “total” and/or ecosystem interactions in relation to ranch management decisions. Participants learn from both financial and biological perspectives (and from the rancher’s perspective) skills including problem-solving, risk management decision-making, analytical and planning skills.
Participants will understand and apply this planning process to set goals and define actions to be taken in specific ranch situations.
Through the support of Southern SARE, the TRM program has provided a foundation upon which to continue building a program for sustainable management of rangeland natural resources. The TRM program, through collaboration of multiple resource management agencies (Texas Cooperative Extension, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Texas Parks & Wildlife), has developed training materials and conducted five regional workshops throughout Texas to train agency personnel in the concepts of strategic management for natural resource management.
1. From the beginning the current TRM program has worked to involve a multitude of stakeholders in the development and implementation of the program. A Steering Committee was convened that represents the Texas Cooperative Extension, Natural Resource Conservation Service and Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. The Steering Committee met formally twice in 2000 to discuss the program and its development. At the end of 2000, the Extension Associate presented the concept and approach of the program to an Advisory Committee made up of agency personnel, ranchers and rangeland consultants. Throughout the program, we have attempted to include as broad a cross-section of stakeholders as possible without creating a non-functional bureaucracy.
2. The training materials developed for the TRM program were put together by the workshop coordinators (instructors) and include five categories of information and tools.
a. Section 1 – includes a series of articles concerning the concepts and approaches presented through the TRM process.
b. Section 2 – includes a revised version of a Texas Cooperative Extension publication that was developed to provide a framework for developing a business plan.
c. Section 3 – includes a series of articles describing the concepts of risk management and their application to various issues faced by rangeland managers.
d. Section 4 – includes a series of articles and information regarding ecological principles for land management as well as their application to managing in an ever increasing fragmented landscape.
e. Section 5 – includes a series of worksheets and informational tools that can be applied while working through the TRM program and developing a strategic management plan for individuals.
Also included in the 2nd objective were the development of fact-sheets, software packages and an electronic delivery system. The fact sheets are planned for publication early in 2002, but have been used, informally, in the workshops conducted in 2001. The software packages are being converted to stand-alone executable files for use by landowners and managers. They include a rainfall analysis program and a livestock decision-aid program that both apply within the strategic management process. Last, the electronic delivery system is currently being developed for the Internet and will include Total Resource Management, Ecological Risk Management and Ecosystem Management topics with general information on each of these leading to more detailed planning information.
3. Through conservative financial allocations, the TRM program was able to surpass the proposed four workshop series and was able to conduct five workshops in 2001, with a tentatively scheduled sixth workshop planned for 2002. In each of the workshops, participants were presented a scenario of a landowner that was requesting assistance in developing a plan for their rangeland resources. The participants worked in teams of 4-5 with a mix of agencies represented in each group. This was done to allow the participants to see the commonalities and differences in agency approaches to the scenario and to learn from each other. A total of 74 agency personnel and 4 instructors participated in the workshop series. The following summarizes the five workshops. The first four workshops consisted of two (2) one and a half day sessions. The fifth workshop was restructured to meet for two and a half days straight through. This change was made after review of the previous workshops and the decision that for continuity of the workshop, meeting without the time between sessions would be more beneficial.
a. Winedale Center Workshop – March 6-7 & 20-21. The first TRM workshop was held at the Winedale Center outside Roundtop, TX in south central Texas. The workshop was attended by 16 agency professionals representing the Texas Cooperative Extension, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and the Texas General Land Office. As a result of this workshop, two of the participants have sought assistance in implementing the concept with their local situations.
b. Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area – March 13-14 & April 3-4. The second TRM workshop was held at the Mason Mountain Wildlife Management Area outside Mason, TX in the Edwards Plateau. The workshop was attended by 10 professionals representing the Texas Cooperative Extension, Natural Resource Conservation Service and Texas General Land Office.
c. Circle 6 Ranch – July 10-11 & 24-25. Session I of the third TRM workshop was held at the Circle 6 Ranch outside Stanton, TX in the Trans-Pecos region of the state. Session II was moved to San Angelo due to unforeseen needs. The workshop was attended by 10 participants representing the Texas Cooperative Extension, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and the Texas General Land Office.
d. Welder Wildlife Refuge – July 18-19 & August 8-9. The forth TRM workshop was held at the Welder Wildlife Refuge outside of Sinton, TX in the Gulf Coast Prairie region of the state. This workshop was attended by 18 participants representing the Texas Cooperative Extension, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and Texas General Land Office.
e. Vernon Research & Extension Center – November 13-15. The last of the TRM workshops was held at the Texas A&M University Research and Extension Center in Vernon, TX. The center is located in the Rolling Plains region of the state. This workshop was held to provide an opportunity to expand the scale of the TRM program further with Texas agency personnel, but also to bring in representatives from Oklahoma and Louisiana. The workshop included 20 participants representing Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas Natural Resource Conservation Service, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, Louisiana Natural Resource Conservation Service, the Oklahoma based Noble Foundation and a representative of S-SARE, Jim Lukens. We anticipate that there will be opportunities to develop collaborations between the states to continue the TRM program in the region.
At the conclusion of each workshop, the participants were asked to complete a Post-Pre Test. They were asked to provide their opinion on their level of knowledge of strategic management prior to the workshop and after completing the workshop. The participants were also asked to complete a workshop evaluation form to provide feedback to the workshop coordinators for consideration and improvement of the workshop itself. The results of these will be analyzed and presented in the final report to SARE.
4 & 5. Preliminary analysis of the program indicates that there has been a varying success in changing the paradigm to consider the “total” situation when assisting clientele. As a whole, it appears that the participants all took a greater understanding of the concepts and approaches to TRM with them from the workshop. Further information as to how they have implemented what was learned into their professions will be acquired early in 2002 through a brief survey of all participants. The goal of providing the information for the agency personnel was met and it is anticipated that they will continue to assist clientele further by seeking out the goals of their clientele and providing assistance in planning and management that will help the clientele meet their goals and maintain sustainability of the rangeland natural resource base.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
The TRM program has provided a valuable platform from which to continue the education and assistance to landowners and managers. The need to manage natural resources for sustainable use will continue and the current TRM program will continue to provide assistance to not only professionals, but also the general public. The TRM program will continue to seek out funds from private and government programs to carry on the project and will be submitting to S-SARE for the next grant cycle. It is the desire that the TRM program will become a self-perpetuating program that continues to grow upon the successes of this project and those in the future. In this, S-SARE has played a vital role and will continue as a partner in the future.
Texas Cooperative Extension
Fort Stockton, TX 79735-1298
Office Phone: 9153368585
Professor & Extension Range Specialist
Texas Cooperative Extension
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX 77843-2126
Office Phone: 9798452755