Transitions in rangeland evaluations

TitleTransitions in rangeland evaluations
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsPyke D.A., Herrick JE
Conference Name57th Annual Meeting, Society for Range Management
Date PublishedJanuary 25, 2004
Conference LocationSalt Lake City, UT
ARIS Log Number163142
AbstractHistorically, rangeland evaluations have been concerned with the inventory and monitoring of upland physical and biological characteristics. Vascular plant composition was a critical measure for determining rangeland condition and trend. Managers used key areas and key forage species to determine if livestock and wildlife adequately used the available land area and its forage. Over the years, the principle reasons for evaluating rangelands have remained the same. They are to determine the current status and trend of the natural resources on rangelands. However, we began to recognize that the traditional rangeland condition classification system and the successional model on which it was based had severe limitations when applied to many semiarid and arid rangelands. We reevaluated our views of succession and the relationship between those views and the status of rangelands. We broadened our areas of concern from only uplands to including wetlands and riparian areas. In addition, we looked beyond the impacts of only our primary use of an individually fenced unit, which was often livestock grazing, to multiple uses and units within a watershed or multiple watersheds within a basin. New assessment techniques are attempting to link abiotic with biotic factors and to integrate them into evaluations of ecosystem status on rangelands. Remote sensing tools now provide a means to evaluate larger areas. Future evaluations will examine the sustainability of rangelands, but they will need to develop acceptable measures of not just biological and physical factors, but also social and economicfactors relating to rangelands.