- Agronomic: other, grass (misc. perennial), hay
- Additional Plants: native plants, trees
- Animals: bovine, goats, sheep, fish
- Animal Production: grazing - continuous, free-range, grazing - multispecies, pasture renovation, range improvement, grazing - rotational, watering systems, winter forage, feed/forage
- Crop Production: forestry
- Education and Training: extension, focus group, technical assistance
- Farm Business Management: risk management
- Natural Resources/Environment: afforestation, biodiversity, riparian buffers, riverbank protection, soil stabilization, wetlands, wildlife
- Pest Management: allelopathy, biological control, botanical pesticides, cultural control, precision herbicide use, weed ecology
- Production Systems: holistic management
- Soil Management: soil quality/health
- Sustainable Communities: public participation, social networks, sustainability measures
More than half of Western U.S. lands are characterized as rangelands. Currently, many forces threaten the ecological integrity of these rangelands and the human communities that rely on them. These threats include unsustainable grazing practices, damaging fire regimes, invasive plants, climate change, rural subdivision, landscape fragmentation, and destructive recreational activities. Natural resource and agricultural professionals are challenged to provide managers, users, and admirers of rangelands with the tools to restore and maintain rangelands. One of the most important of these tools is reliable, easily accessible, and user-friendly information. This proposed professional development project spearheaded by the University of Idaho and the University of Arizona builds on an already established Western Rangelands Partnership including Idaho, Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Alaska, and Hawaii. The Partnership's purpose is to create a comprehensive Web gateway on sustainable rangeland management as part of the Agriculture Network Information Center (AgNIC) initiative. The original AgNIC rangelands website was created in 1995 by the University of Arizona; in 2002, based on user needs and other feedback, an effort began to expand the site's coverage to the entire Western U.S. Two regional workshops (March 2002 and 2003) formalized the Partnership and brought together range Extension specialists and librarians from 15 Western land-grant universities. Despite this good start and a home page redesign for the website, now called Rangelands West [http://rangelandswest.org], there are only four active state home pages in the region of Western SARE. Furthermore, only minimal coverage of sustainable rangeland management is currently available on the RangelandsWest website. The need for greater understanding of innovative, sustainable rangeland management practices in the West is well-recognized, but shrinking budgets have affected Extension personnel's access to timely and targeted training. Similarly, there is growing demand by users for access to web-based information to support informed decisions. In addition, a growing and widely dispersed clientele challenges Extension and agency professionals to find new ways to educate and assist with environmental and natural resource management issues. This proposal will address all these problems by providing training opportunities for Western Rangelands Partnership members to (1) expand their understanding of sustainable rangeland management issues; (2) improve their information technology skills; and (3) make reliable information that is relevant to sustainable rangeland management readily accessible through the Rangelands West website. An initial meeting will be held in conjunction with the annual Society for Range Management conference to determine preliminary sustainable rangeland management themes and to design a user survey that will help finalize themes to be addressed. Each state will select one theme to develop as a website section and will bring identified resources and links to an initial workshop for populating the website. A second workshop will target county-based Extension and USDA advisors in participating states to gain knowledge of sustainable rangeland management practices and skills in information technology. A final meeting of all participants will be used for revising Web sections, evaluating overall results, and planning for the future. Evaluation will include both pre- and post-assessments of workshops, progress reports, external reviews by content specialists, online feedback forms, and statistics on website usage compiled throughout the project.
Project objectives from proposal:
This proposal will provide training opportunities for Western Rangelands Partnership members to (1) expand their understanding of sustainable rangeland management issues; (2) improve their information technology skills; and (3) make reliable information that is relevant to sustainable rangeland management readily accessible through the Rangelands West website.
We will build an overarching structure for sustainable rangelands content on our [rangelandswest.org] website, with introductory text and navigational pages leading to the content developed by each participating state. Finally, metadata for this new content will be entered into the RangelandsWest website database, making it accessible to users of the national AgNIC site via a web services connection. Rangeland specialists, advisors, and practitioners who participate in the project will gain skills necessary to access, evaluate, and create web-based information. All of these products will result from collaborative interactions with state rangeland Extension specialists, information technology specialists, county-based Extension personnel, USDA advisors, and ranchers.