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.
Total Resource Management activities focused on two primary areas of effort.
1) Development of an Electronic Technology Transfer System. This system has been developed (in part) and is available online at http://rangeweb.tamu.edu/trm
The web training program is separated into five areas of interest. Section 1 focuses on the Total Resource Management approach and the use of strategic management principles for managing natural resources. This section provides the basic outline used in the Professional Development Program and the training courses. It is expected to act as refresher materials for previous participants in the TRM workshop series as well as introductory materials that can be used by professionals in natural resource management that have not taken part in the TRM workshop program.
Section 2 of the TRM website focuses on the use of risk management principles for assistance in decision-making and natural resource management. This section centers on a series of Texas Cooperative Extension publications that illustrate areas of risk in natural resource management and provide approaches to facing the risks and making decisions that reduce the risks inherently associated with the management of natural resources. The publication series is also incorporated into the TRM workshop and in this sense, provides refresher materials for past participants and introductory materials for those who have not participated in the workshop series.
Section 3 of the TRM website is a software package that has been developed by Dr. Larry White of the Texas A&M University Rangeland Ecology and Management Extension Program Unit. This program (free to the public) provides a simple approach to monitoring precipitation for individuals based upon their record keeping. It can also be used for long-term precipitation records from multiple sources. The rainfall analysis program allows the user to enter monthly precipitation records for a location. The user can set what output is desired from the program. Basic statistical analysis can be run to provide the average rainfall and median rainfall based upon the entered records. Graphics can be generated illustrating the variability between years of the data and each years relation to the average and the median rainfall and also to 70% of normal rainfall (drought level). The program also provides risk analysis and probabilities of rainfall on a monthly basis that can be used in management decisions for the local area. There are several other options of output for various questions that might be of interest. We encourage users to evaluate the rainfall analysis program and provide us with comments. Comments can be sent to Dr. Larry D. White at firstname.lastname@example.org
Section 4 of the TRM website is another software package for livestock analysis. The analysis package was originally developed by Dr. Larry D. White and has been adapted for web use by Mr. Cheng Shao. The livestock analysis software package was developed to allow users to evaluate “What if…” situations within their current livestock management plan. Information is provided by the user filling in general sections on livestock numbers, forage availability, livestock classes and expenses for each livestock class. Once the information is entered, the user can calculate the data and is provided with a basic gross margin analysis based upon their information. The utility of the program is enhanced by allowing the user to adjust numbers based upon future plans for their livestock operation that result in an analysis that can be used to make decisions. If the results of these future plans are not suitable for the user, they can re-adjust and see what alternative plans might provide. The analysis program is another tool that can be used by the livestock operator to assist in risk analysis and decision-making.
Section 5 of the TRM website focuses on the Water for Texans program of the Texas Cooperative Extension. This section is currently under construction and is expected to be online by the middle of May 2003. The section provides a multitude of information for the user based upon demonstrations currently being conducted in Texas. The demonstrations focus on small scale, paired watersheds located across the state that sample runoff and sediment loading in various rangeland systems. The demonstration programs also have a rainfall measurement that records rainfall events and intensity of rainfall. All of the results of the demonstration project across the state will be available in database form and can be queried by the user for specific information of interest at a location near them. The section also contains Texas Cooperative Extension publications related to water issues and has the publications available online in PDF format. The section also has annual reports for the various watersheds and will contain several Microsoft PowerPoint presentations regarding water issues for the state.
In its full form, the Total Resource Management Program brings together the multitude of issues involved in the successful management of rangeland systems in Texas. The use of materials on the website should provide a beneficial addition to the material available for natural resource managers.
One prominent secondary activity has been taking place in 2002. Based upon work done with the TRM educational program and the concepts and approaches presented. Dr. William Fox has been participating in the Sustainable Rangeland Roundtable. The SRR has brought together a group of rangeland scientist to focus on the development of criteria and indicators for assessing rangeland sustainability. Dr. Fox has been an active member of this program throughout 2002 and into 2003 and will be on the briefing team that visits with congressional staffer, agency heads and NGO directors in Washington, D.C. in May of 2003.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
By the end of May 2003…
1. Six workshops have been completed training approximately 100 professionals from multiple agencies and individuals.
A. Participants represented the following agencies/landowners
1. Texas & Oklahoma Cooperative Extension
2. Texas & Louisiana Natural Resource Conservation Service
3. Texas General Land Office
4. Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
5. U.S. Fish & Wildlifer Service
6. S-SARE Board Member
7. Individual landowners from Texas
B. The number of workshops originally proposed was four; thus, through “bootstrap” financing, the TRM team has been able to extend the benefits of the S-SARE sponsored program and conduct two extra programs.
C. Participants of the TRM workshop who hold certification from the Society for Range Management are able to receive 16 CEU’s for participation in the workshop program. The result being training of professionals that are Certified Professionals in Rangeland Management.
2. The development of publications focused on the TRM training program is being completed. Currently two publications have been put out and are available to the general public. The first publication “Strategic Planning for Success” is a compilation of three separate topics that were originally three different publications. Compiling these together provides a good introduction to the concepts for Total Resource Management. The second publication, “Why are Goals Important,” focuses on goal setting and the benefits of setting long-term goals to achieve sustainability.
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