Establishing the Wyoming Rangeland Management Institute

Project Overview

MW18-004
Project Type: Enhanced State Grants
Funds awarded in 2018: $24,970.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2020
Grant Recipient: University of Wyoming
Region: Western
State: Wyoming
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Caitlin Youngquist
University of Wyoming

Commodities

  • Agronomic: grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Additional Plants: native plants
  • Animals: bovine, equine, goats, sheep
  • Animal Products: fiber, fur, leather, meat

Practices

  • Animal Production: grazing management, grazing - continuous, grazing - multispecies, grazing - rotational, range improvement, rangeland/pasture management, stocking rate
  • Education and Training: extension, mentoring, technical assistance, workshop
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement, riparian buffers, riverbank protection, soil stabilization, wildlife
  • Pest Management: weed ecology
  • Production Systems: holistic management
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: leadership development, public policy, urban/rural integration

    Abstract:

    In Wyoming, 84% of the state is classified as rangelands which includes the deserts, grasslands, shrublands, forests, foothills and mountains.  These rangelands support the state’s beef cattle and sheep industry for a total value exceeding $2 Billion (2016 Wyoming Agricultural Statistics).  These rangelands are not only important for livestock but also support wildlife and plant diversity that is recognized globally, including the largest state-level populations of pronghorn antelope and sage-grouse and critical landscape-scale habitat for large carnivore conservation.  Wyoming is approximately half federally owned, and thus grazing on public allotments is critical to sustaining range livestock production and rural livelihoods.  Basic rangeland education, litigation concerning environmental issues, and new strategies in the context of contemporary challenges is threatening the sustainability of the use of Wyoming rangelands for livestock agriculture, specifically as they surround water, endangered species, animal distribution, and continued pressure to eliminate public land grazing.  Recent University of Wyoming Extension needs assessments for rangeland stakeholders, including local, county, state, and federal users, indicated that difficulty in balancing multiple uses, education on the basics of rangeland ecology, pro-active rangeland management, and collaboration are persistent needs that the University of Wyoming Extension should address.  This proposal seeks to develop the Wyoming ‘Range Management Institute’ to provide baseline rangeland ecology and management education that is then placed in the context of contemporary challenges threatening the sustainability of livestock agriculture on Wyoming rangelands.  This educational effort will use diverse educational delivery techniques (in-person workshop, distance delivery through webinars, and online curriculum) that are provided by an interdisciplinary and collaborative instruction team (including University, state agency, federal agency, and private rancher and legal experts).  We will also enhance the state-wide network of applied demonstrations and begin to build Extension “Hot Shot” teams to address emerging issues. 

    Project objectives:

    Objective 1:     Establish the annual Wyoming “Range Management Institute” in-person training program to equip private and public rangeland managers with basic rangeland management knowledge and skills that are relevant to contemporary rangeland issues.

    Objective 2:     Enhance delivery of the Wyoming “Range Management Institute” through the use of distance-delivery technology by creating new opportunities for participation.

    Objective 3:     Evaluate participants for change in knowledge, skills and abilities (KSA’s) relative to rangeland ecology and management basics and their ability to address contemporary issues.

    Objective 4:     Coordinate a network of applied demonstrations through the University of Wyoming Extension Range Educator network addressing contemporary issues.

    Objective 5:     Build University of Wyoming Extension “Hot Shot Teams” comprised of Extension Range Educators around contemporary issues.

    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.