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Wild Open Spaces of the West. Rangeland Ecology & Management University of Idaho Dr. Karen. Wild Open Spaces of the West. What is rangeland? How much rangeland? Who owns rangeland? What is rangeland good for? Multiple uses of rangeland What is range management?

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wild open spaces of the west

Wild Open Spaces of the West

Rangeland Ecology & Management

University of Idaho

Dr. Karen

wild open spaces of the west2
Wild Open Spaces of the West
  • What is rangeland?
  • How much rangeland?
  • Who owns rangeland?
  • What is rangeland good for?
    • Multiple uses of rangeland
  • What is range management?
    • Tools of range management
what is rangeland







What is Rangeland?

Which of these are rangeland?

what is rangeland4







Forage pasture?

All deserts except barren deserts

All tundra

Vegetation around wetlands

All savannas

All shrublands

Only open forests

All grasslands

Not highly managed pastures

What is Rangeland?

Which of these are rangeland?

what is rangeland5
What is Rangeland?
  • Rangelandis uncultivated land dominated by native plants: grasses, herbaceous broad-leaved plants (forbs) and shrubs.
  • Rangeland is all land that is not farmland, dense forest, barren desert or land covered by solid rock, concrete, or glaciers.
  • Rangeland includes: grasslands, shrublands, savannas, and open woodlands .
  • Are allrangelands grazed?
    • Grazing as an important ecological process in all rangeland, but not all rangelands are grazed by livestock.
how much rangeland is there



Ice, rock & barren desert?


How much rangeland is there?

How much of the earth’s surface is rangeland?






how much rangeland is there7
How much rangeland is there?

47% of the Earth is rangeland

36% of the US is rangeland

53% of Western States is rangeland

44% of Idaho is rangeland

who owns rangeland
Who owns rangeland?
  • In Idaho, 66% of all rangeland is “Public Land”.
  • “Public land” is owned and managed by federal and state governments for the good of the public.
  • In Idaho, the most important land management agencies are the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Idaho Department of Lands.
  • Grazing on private lands is wholly integrated with public grazing lands.
    • Livestock grazing occurs on 95% of BLM land
    • and, 58% of U.S. Forest Service lands.
    • 88% of all beef cows in Idaho graze at least part of each year on BLM or USFS lands.
what is rangeland good for
Livestock production

Wildlife habitat


Minerals (oil, coal, sulfur)

Native plant products


Open space

Western heritage

What is rangeland good for?

List 5 uses or services rangeland provides?

what is rangeland good for10
What is rangeland good for?
  • Livestock Production
    • Rangeland & pastureland in the 19 western states are home to 58% of all beef cattle in the US.
    • Western rangelands also harbor 79% of sheep and 88% of goats in the US.
    • Livestock production on rangeland is very important to supply meat for American and World populations and also for leather, wool, mohair, and other products that livestock yield.
what is rangeland good for11
What is rangeland good for?
  • Livestock grazing occurs on 65% of Idaho’s total land area and in every county throughout the state
  • Range livestock production is Idaho’s major agricultural activity in terms of land used and cash receipts
what is rangeland good for12
What is rangeland good for?
  • Wildlife Habitat
    • Rangelands provide habitat for countless mammals, birds, amphibians, fishes, and insects.
    • Of the total number of animal species found in the United States
      • 84% of the mammals,
      • 74% of the birds,
      • 58% of the amphibians and
      • 38% of the fishes are represented in rangeland ecosystems.
range wildlife include
Range Wildlife Include:
  • Ruminants are animals such as deer, elk, and moose that have specialized digestive systems to digest the cellulose abundant in the cell walls of rangeland plants
  • Rodents and Rabbits also have digestive systems that allow them to get energy out of cellulose
  • Concentrate-selectors are animals such as birds & bears that find an adequate diet on rangeland by carefully selecting berries, seeds, or roots low in cellulose
what is rangeland good for14
What is rangeland good for?
  • Water
    • The Western United States has a much drier climate than the Eastern U.S. ... water is doubly precious to the 30% of the U.S. population that lives in the West
    • Most of the water in the streams and river of Idaho fell initially on rangeland or forests. Therefore, proper management of rangeland requires careful attention to the amount & quality of water that flows off rangeland
what is rangeland good for15
What is rangeland good for?
  • RecreationRangelands are increasingly important for recreational uses such as:
    • Hiking
    • Hunting
    • Camping
    • Mountain biking
    • Cross-country skiing
    • Snowmobiling
  • Many national parks are located on rangelands
what is rangeland good for16
What is rangeland good for?
  • Open Space
    • People in the west value open space
    • Livestock ranches are becoming “working wilderness” to maintain biodiversity and wildlife habitat quality
    • Environmentally concerned citizens have paid ranchers to maintain open space through scenic easements
  • Western Heritage
    • Ranching is important to maintain the “Western Image”
multiple use
Multiple Use
  • Because rangelands have many important uses, most rangelands are managed under principles of multiple-use
  • Several uses or values of rangeland are managed simultaneously with care to avoid overuse or destruction of natural resources.
what is range management
What is range management?
  • Range Management is the careful use and management of rangeland resources (plants, animals, soil, and water) to meet the needs and desires of society without damaging the resource.
  • The tricky part is that the “needs and desires of society” are continually changing.
  • Livestock production has always been important but, greater management emphasis is now being placed on wildlife management, recreation, & water production

The term that best describes range management is:INTEGRATED

tools of range management
Tools of range management?

The proper use of rangeland is accomplished by several simple tools that must be continually monitored and adjusted.

  • Fencescan be placed to control how a pasture is grazed and provide seasons or years of rest from grazing
  • The number of livestock can be increased or decreased to meet management objectives. Very heavy grazing may be required for some needs (e.g., weed control or water harvest) and light grazing is necessary for other purposes (e.g., improved water quality or forage for elk)
tools of range management20
Tools of range management?
  • The species of livestock to be grazed must be carefully selected because each species differs in the diet they select.
    • For example, cows generally prefer grasses, goats consume mostly shrubs, and sheep eat mixed diets of grasses, browse and forbs
  • And, different species of livestock also differ in type of terrain they use.
    • For example, sheep can graze steeper slopes than cattle
tools of range management21
Tools of range management?
  • Invasion of weeds on rangelands is a growing problem. Range managers often need to use weed control practices (such as fire, grazing, or herbicides) to reduce the growth of weeds and allow native plants to grow.
  • Fireis a natural force in nearly all rangeland ecosystems. For healthy rangelands, fires are often carefully set and controlled (by prescribed burning techniques). For example, in Southern Idaho, fire is often used to control the spread of sagebrush and encourage the growth of productive grasses.
what do range managers study
Soil morphology

Plant growth & development

Plant identification

Plant community ecology

Animal nutrition

Wildlife management

Watershed management

Riparian ecology

What do range managers study?

The Basics:

what do range managers study24
Vegetation assessment & monitoring

Grazing management

Fire ecology & prescriptions

Restoration techniques

Weed control

Geographic Information Systems

What do range managers study?

The Tools:

what range classes should students interested in range consider
What range classes should students interested in range consider?
  • Range 251 - Principles of range management
  • Range 353 - Range plant identification & ecology
  • Range 532 - Natural history of rangelands
  • Range 456 - Integrated rangeland management
  • Range 454 - Rangeland weed management
  • Range 553 - Foraging behavior of rangeland herbivores.