- Animals: bovine
- Animal Products: meat
- Animal Production: feed/forage, free-range, grazing management, grazing - rotational, pasture renovation, pasture fertility, rangeland/pasture management
- Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
- Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, financial management
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement, wildlife
- Pest Management: competition, cultural control, weed ecology
- Production Systems: agroecosystems
- Sustainable Communities: community development, community planning, community services, local and regional food systems, public policy, sustainability measures
Most rangelands west of the Cascades in the Pacific Northwest occur on sites that
historically supported native prairie. Over 90% of the prairies in this region have been
converted to agriculture or lost to development, making conservation of this rare system a
top conservation priority. At the same time, the human population in this region
continues to grow, demanding more from regional food production systems. Therefore,
agricultural producers are under great pressure from growing needs for food production
and habitat conservation. Because of this, it is increasingly recognized that effective
prairie conservation can only be achieved by partnering with private landowners to
develop incentivized conservation strategies that maintain productive farms.
Through a unique collaboration between agricultural producers, conservation
scientists, economists, sociologists, regulators and agricultural researchers, we propose to
evaluate if and how agricultural productivity can be maintained or enhanced in working
landscapes while simultaneously accruing conservation value for rare native plants and
animals. Through replicated on-farm experimental demonstrations, we will quantify the
‘ecological lift’ generated by conservation tools (altered grazing regimes, spring rest
period, seeding native species). Additionally, we will evaluate the costs and benefits
associated with conservation actions, to provide guidance on strategies and expenses for
agricultural producers. Finally, we will survey producers to identify concerns, questions
and needs (financial, technical, other) surrounding habitat conservation on their
properties. The combined ecological, economic and social survey data will help guide
government incentive programs. We expect this work to identify opportunities for
agricultural producers to increase the conservation value of their properties, while
maintaining or even enhancing their bottom line.
Study findings and educational materials resulting from the demonstration trials
will be communicated through peer-reviewed publications, presentations at academic
conferences, a published grazing management guidebook, and a series of collaborative
regional workshops for agricultural producers, researchers, extension agents, and land
Project objectives from proposal:
1. Develop a regional network of three grazed prairie research sites to demonstrate and evaluate
effects of conservation tools on prairie habitat. This objective will:
a. Implement conservation tools for target species and habitats, with focus on management
intensive grazing, exclusion during critical flowering periods and/or native seeding.
b. Evaluate impact of conservation installations through a range of habitat and species
abundance metrics over 3 years.
2. Utilizing the regional network of grazed and ungrazed prairie sites, quantify the financial
benefits and costs associated with managing critical habitat and species on grazed prairie as
compared to ungrazed conservation prairie over a 3-year period. This objective will:
a. Provide practical financial information to farmers, the conservation community, and the
county planners concerning the costs of meeting HCP requirements on grazed and
ungrazed prairie both on private and protected sites.
b. Develop enterprise budgets and a benefit-cost analysis to inform HCP acreage targets for
protecting critical species on grazed land relative to conservation preserve land.
3. Engage private landowners by administering a social survey focused on landowner needs for
increased involvement in land conservation programs (conservation easements, HCP, Safe
Harbor Agreement). This objective will:
a. Engage producers and regulatory entities in a productive discussion on incentives needed
for habitat conservation on working lands.
b. Provide feedback for regulatory programs on effective strategies to engage private
4. Present opportunities for technical assistance related to habitat management and discuss
economic and landowner incentive opportunities with agricultural producers, regulatory
agencies and conservation land managers through several mechanisms:
a. Workshop series, with field tours of the agricultural demonstration sites and native prairie
preserve sites. Field tours will be sponsored by WSU, CNLM, Thurston County
Conservation District and NRCS.
b. WSU-Extension technical bulletin providing management guidelines and financial data
for conservation tools; and two published manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals.
c. Presentation of findings at regional and national conferences.