Rangelands are vast landscapes that cover most of western North America and the earth, including about 53% of Idaho’s land cover. Rangeland has a legacy of multiple use that has affected where and how people live, work, and recreate. Hence, this curriculum is designed to encourage students to:
- Examine the ecological principles that cause these grasslands, shrublands, woodlands, and deserts to change or stay the same.
- Explore how humans use and manage rangeland.
- Address modern challenges of rangeland management with broad thinking and new, sustainable practices to maintain and restore rangeland and the human communities that rely on them.
The curriculum includes recorded lectures and PowerPoint presentations, noteguides, activities, videos, and readings. The development of the curriculum was a cooperative endeavor of the University of Idaho Rangeland Conservation program and Department of Agricultural and Extension Education, and the Idaho Rangeland Resources Commission. The curriculum was made possible by the David Little Livestock Range Management Endowment, the University of Idaho, and the Idaho Rangeland Resources Commission.
This curriculum is also offered at the University of Idaho as a campus, online, and dual-credit course (REM 151 Rangeland Principles). For more information on these course, contact Karen Launchbaugh (firstname.lastname@example.org) or April Hulet (email@example.com).
Classroom use of these materials are free. The curriculum can be modified and adjusted to meet each teacher’s specific needs.
- Rangeland Resources and Uses
What are Rangelands?
This material will help you define rangeland, and you’ll discover how much of the worlds land cover is classified as range.
Start by watching the “What are Rangelands?” presentation and fill out the noteguide as you watch. Next, take the “What is Range Quiz” as a review. Once completed, check your answers by watching the “Answers to Range Quiz” presentation. Estimated Time: 30 minutes
- Lesson: What are Rangelands? presentation (8:33) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
- Activity: What is Range Quiz | Answers to Range Quiz presentation (7:03) | PowerPoint
Value of Rangeland
When we talk about rangeland, we often talk about multiple use. Rangeland is used for livestock production, wildlife habitat, water, recreation, and so many other ways. In this lesson, you will learn about some of the ways rangeland is used across the world, and discuss the many ways people value rangeland and how we can work together to be good stewards of the land.
Start by watching the “Value of Rangelands” presentation and fill out the noteguide as you watch. Next watch the Life on the Range video about the Boise Foothills, which a large open space area right outside the back door of Idaho’s Capital city and complete the noteguide while you watch. Finally, complete the “Can You Have It All?” activity. During this activity, you will rank how you use/value rangeland and compare it with the group/class. Estimated Time: 60 minutes
- Lesson: Value of Rangelands presentation (23:18) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
- Life on the Range Video: Multiple Use in the Boise Foothill (6:30)| Noteguide
- Activity: Can You Have It All?
What is Range Management?
Rangeland management is the use and stewardship of rangeland resources to meet the goals and desires of humans. During this lesson, you will learn about rangeland management and be introduced to some of the tools we use in range management.
Start by watching the “What is Range Management” presentation and fill out the noteguide as you watch. Next, complete the “Career Exploration” activity which was designed to help you discovery various range occupations, including the skills that are needed to be successful in these careers! Estimated Time: 45 minutes
- Lesson: What is Range Management? presentation (22:41) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
- Activity: Career Exploration
History of Rangeland Management
Rangeland management started centuries ago and continues to be refined today. Understanding the history of rangeland management is key to understanding land use and ownership of rangeland today. In this lesson, you will learn about American history including settlers and pioneers, how federal land management agencies were created (e.g., BLM), and acts and policies that contribute to how rangeland is managed today.
Start by watching the “History of Rangeland Management” presentation and complete either the noteguide (step-by-step outline) or the timeline noteguide (fill in the dates and key information). For additional information, watch “The Morrill Act” video and/or the “The Big Burn of 1910” video. These both expound on key events that have influenced rangeland management today. Estimated Time: 30 minutes
- Lesson: History of Rangeland Management presentation (27:06) | Noteguide | Timeline Noteguide | PowerPoint
- Video: The Morrill Act (4:44)
- Video: The Big Burn of 1910 (3:36)
Land Use and Ownership of Rangeland
Have you ever wondered who owns rangeland in the United States? What the mission is for various federal land agencies? And how these lands are used? During this lesson, you will see maps that show who owns land in the United States, where federal lands (sometimes called public lands) are located, and be challenged to think globally.
Start by watching the “Land Use and Ownership of Rangeland” presentation and complete the noteguide as you watch. The three additionally videos are great examples of rangeland stewardship across the globe. Estimated Time: 35 minutes
- Lesson: Land Use and Ownership of Rangeland presentation (19:23) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
- Video: Pastoralism efforts by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the UN (4:59)
- Video: Conservation ranching by the Audubon Society (4:59)
- Video: California Ranching Raising Beef with Sustainable Stewardship (5:16)
Managing Working Landscapes
Planning and managing rangeland is challenging. In this lesson, you learn about several management approaches such as adaptive management, all-lands approach, collaborative resource management, multiple use management, and outcome based management.
Start by watching the “Managing Working Landscapes” presentation and complete the noteguide as you watch. Next, open the “Conflicts and Compatabilities” worksheet and learn about Rinker Rock Creek Ranch by watching the presentation and Life on the Range video. Using the worksheet, outline some conflicts and compatibilities that you anticipate at Rock Creek Ranch. Additional information about the ranch can be found in this newsletter article, and by visiting the Rinker Rock Creek Ranch website. Estimated Time: 60 minutes
- Lesson: Managing Working Landscapes presentation (10:42) |Noteguide| PowerPoint
- Activity: Conflicts and Compatabilities worksheet | Rock Creek Ranch presentation (16:06) |
- Life on the Range: Collaboration thrives at Rock Creek Ranch (16:00)
- Reading: Rock Creek Ranch: Home on the range for collaboration, research
- Rangeland Plants
Most management decisions on rangeland is made by knowing the various plants inhabiting rangeland and knowing their growth habits. Correctly identifying rangeland plants requires knowledge of plant characteristics and plant types.
Plant Types and Morphology
In this lesson, you will learn different plant types (growth forms and life span), and physical and structural characteristics (morphology) of range plants. This includes: leaf types, arrangements, shapes, margins, and venation, plant stems and roots, and flowers.
Start by watching the “Plant Types and Morphology” presentation and complete the noteguide while you watch. Then choose one of the two activities. The Rangeland Scavenger Hunt activity requires you to find and take pictures of various plant characteristics. If you choose the Rangeland Plant Investigation activity, you will find a plant that looks interesting and describe it using the vocabulary from the presentation. Estimated Time: 60 minutes
- Lesson: Plant Types and Morphology presentation (25:04) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
- Activity: Rangeland Scavenger Hunt
- Activity: Rangeland Plant Investigation-Find and Figure-out | Example
- Additional Resource: Idaho Rangeland Plant Classification Guide (to request classroom booklets, contact IRRC)
Common Plants of the Palouse Prairie and Sage-Steppe
In this lesson you will learn about 9 common plants found in the Palouse Prairie and Sage-Steppe. Each plant has unique plant characteristics that will help you identify the plant on the range. You will also learn about the longevity (perennial vs. annual) and origin (native vs. introduced) of each plant. Estimated Time: 40 minutes
Start by watching the “Major Plants of the Sage-steppe and Palouse” presentation and complete the noteguide while you watch. Study the different plant characteristics and create flashcards for each plant.
- Lesson: Major Plants of the Sage-steppe and Palouse Prairie presentation (6:29) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
Invasive Plants and Weeds
Rangeland plants are often categorized by origin (native or introduced), and whether they are invasive (meaning that they spread and establish over large areas and persists for many years) or not. In this lesson, you will describe native vs. introduced plants, learn what makes invasive plants invasive, and be able to define noxious weeds. You will also learn how weeds impact rangeland, and be introduced to 4 invasive plants found on rangeland in the western US.
Start by watching the “Invasive Plants and Weeds on Rangeland” presentation and complete the noteguide while you watch. Study the different plant characteristics and create flashcards for each plant. Next, watch the Outdoor Idaho War of the Weeds video. In this video, you will learn how invasive weeds are impacting Idaho. Estimated Time: 60 minutes
- Lesson: Invasive Plants and Weeds on Rangeland presentation (14:47) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
- Video: Outdoor Idaho War of the Weeds (26:47)| Noteguide
- Additional Resource: What is an Invasive Plant?
Plant Nutritive Value and Poisonous Plants
When we talk about animals, we often talk about what they eat. In this lesson, you are going to learn about energy and nutrients found in plants, and toxic or poisonous plants and the effects they can have on animals. You will also learn the characteristics of 2 more plants that are toxic and found on rangeland.
Start by watching the “Forage Value and Poisonous Plants” presentation and complete the noteguide while you watch. Next, complete the activity that will test your knowledge of nutritive value in plants. Estimated Time: 30 minutes
- Lesson: Forage Value and Poisonous Plants presentation (13:33) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
- Activity: Which Plant has the Highest Forage Value? | Answers to Which Plant has the Highest Forage Value
- Additional Resource: Ingestion of Toxic Plants by Herbivores
Plant Response to Grazing
Most plants are adapted to grazing and thrive when some leaves are removed (just like your lawn!). Other plants may develop strategies to avoid being grazed such as thorns or toxins. In this lesson, you will learn about how different plants respond to grazing (i.e., defoliation) and better understand the importance of grazing timing or season.
Start by watching the “Plant Response to Grazing” presentation and complete the noteguide while you watch. Next, review the plants that you have learned and discuss with your class how each would tolerate grazing and if they have strategies that may help them avoid being grazed. Estimated Time: 25 minutes
Plant Response to Fire
Fire is a natural occurrence on rangeland, however, too much fire can create conditions where we see an increase in weeds (like cheatgrass), increased erosion, and a decrease in forage production. In this lesson, you will learn about three types of fire (wildfire, wildland fire use, and prescribed fire), and factors that influence a plant response to fire (e.g., fire intensity). You will also learn about plant characteristics that influence how a plant recovers after a fire.
Start by watching the “Plant Response to Fire” presentation and complete the noteguide while you watch. Have you ever wondered how wildfire impacts wildlife? Watch this video to learn more about wildfire and wildlife. Estimated Time: 30 minutes
- Lesson: Plant Response to Fire presentation (22:04) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
- Video: Wildfire and Wildlife (1:53)
Most management decisions on rangeland is made by knowing the various plants inhabiting rangeland and knowing their growth habits. Correctly identifying rangeland plants requires knowledge of plant characteristics and plant types. A dichotomous key is a tool that can help you identify plants. In this lesson, you will learn the basic structure of a dichotomous key and practice using a dichotomous key to identify the grasses learned in “Common Plants of the Palouse Prairie and Sage-Steppe” lesson. You will also create your own dichotomous key for the plants you have learned in the “Rangeland Plants” section (Common Plants of the Palouse Prairie and Sage-Steppe = 9 plants; Invasive Plants and Weeds = 4 plants; Plant Nutritive Value and Poisonous Plants = 2 plants).
Start by watching the “Dichotomous Key” presentation. Download the “Dichotomous Key to Rangeland Grasses” and “Glossary” and identify crested wheatgrass, Idaho fescue, bluebunch wheatgrass, and cheatgrass (pictures of each plant can be found in the presentation and PowerPoint). Next, create your own dichotomous key using this worksheet (step-by-step instructions are in the “Dichotomous Key” presentation). Estimated Time: 50 minutes
- Lesson: Dichotomous Key presentation (5:57) | PowerPoint
- Activity: Practice using a dichotomous key, Dichotomous Key to Rangeland Grasses
- Activity: Create your own dichotomous key worksheet | Glossary
- Additional Resources: Constructing a Dichotomous Key | Dichotomous Key for Grasses
Collecting and Mounting Rangeland Plants
It is often important to collect and mount plants, especially if you have a hard time identifying the plant in the field. Plant mounts can also be used when teaching others about plants and the impact they have on the rangeland. In this lesson, you will learn how to collect and mount plants plants. Estimated Time: 15 minutes in the classroom, field component TBD by the instructor.
Plant Identification Study Helps
- Rangeland Animals
Rangeland provides habitat for countless mammals, birds, amphibians, fishes, and insects. A great majority of mammals found in North America spend at least a portion of their life in rangeland ecosystems.
Types of Rangeland Animals
Mammals, Birds, Amphibians and Reptiles, Fish, and Insect all spend time on rangeland. Some of these animals are considered, wild, feral, or domestic. Some are herbivores, some are carnivores, and some are omnivores. In this lesson, you would learn terminology that describes animals and also be introduced to some of the most common animals found on rangelands.
To start this lesson, watch the “Rangeland Animals” presentation and complete the noteguide while you watch. To aid you as you study the different animals and learn about their origin, feeding habit, and relationship to humans, test your knowledge using these flashcards. Estimated Time: 40 minutes
- Lesson: Rangeland Animals presentation (24:42) | Noteguide| PowerPoint
- Flashcards of Animals (StudyBlue)
- Additional Resource: Identify the Grazer worksheet (identify from a provided list of rangeland animals whether each animal is a grazer, intermediate feeder, or browser; estimated time: 10 minutes).
- Additional Resource: Rangeland Herbivores worksheet (A variety of herbivores utilize rangeland. Follow the worksheet to learn more about the diverse animals that call rangeland home; time will vary by student). | Website: Animal Diversity Web
Rangeland Animal Habitat
Habitat refers to the “home” of a species. Habitat includes living (or biotic) components, climate (e.g., temperature), and even soils and chemicals. In this lesson, we will break habitat down into four categories, food, water, cover, and space. Within that, you will learn about ruminants, hind-gut fermenters, and concentrate selectors, and the diet preferences of many ungulate species found on rangeland.
Start by watching “Rangeland Animal Habitat” presentation and complete the noteguide while you watch. Next, do the “Which Niche?” activity. In this activity, you will research the niche (or habitat) of four rangeland species (mule deer, pronghorn, sage-grouse and burrowing owl). Estimate Time: 50 minutes
- Lesson: Rangeland Animal Habitat presentation (19:03) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
- Activity: Which Niche?
Wild Horses and Feral Animals
Wild horse management is a challenge on rangeland throughout the West. In this lesson, you will investigate wild horse issues by completing this worksheet as you explore the “BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program” website, watch “Horse Rich, Dirt Poor” and read “Feral vs. Wild Horses” article. Next, complete the “Beaty Butte Wild Horse Predicament” activity. In this activity, you learn about a horse management area (HMA) and make decisions on how to reduce number according to the appropriate management level (AML). Estimated Time: 60 minutes
- Lesson: Wild Horses and Feral Animals worksheet | Website: BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program |
Video: Horse Rich, Dirt Poor (15:55) |Article: Feral vs. Wild Horses
- Activity: Beaty Butte Wild Horse Predicament worksheet| PowerPoint
An understanding of animal nutrition starts with an understanding of what requirements an animal needs to live and reproduce, as well as the effects the environment can have on nutrients. In this lessons, you will learn about animal requirements through growth, reproduction, and maintenance. You will also learn how land managers/producers meet these demands for livestock, as well as learn how wildlife cope with seasons of low quality. Estimated Time: 25 minutes
How Many Animals? Setting Stocking Rate
A stocking rate is the balance between forage supply and forage demand. When setting a stocking rate, we need to consider which animals are grazing, when to graze (or not graze), and where animals will graze on the landscape. In this lesson, you will learn how to set stocking rates using the forage demand method which includes: 1) calculating usable forage, 2) adjusting for terrain, water, or other constraints, 3) calculate forage demand of animals, and 4) calculate stocking rate.
Start by watching the “Setting Stocking Rates” presentation and complete the noteguide as you watch. Next, complete the activity. During this activity, you will calculate the stocking rate for “Mollie Texan” ranch in the southern mixed prairie. If you want more practice, explore the additional resources section. Here you find multiple practice problems and tips for calculating stocking rates. Estimated Time: 90 minutes
- Lesson: Setting Stocking Rates presentation (32:57) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
- Activity: Mollie Texan worksheet | Video (14:59)| PowerPoint
- Additional Resource: Sage Ranch stocking rate calculations worksheet
- Additional Resource: Daydreamer’s Ranch: Worksheet | Lesson Plan
- Additional Resource: Stocking Rate Scenarios (three scenarios included) | Lesson Plan
- Additional Resource: Guidelines for Setting a Proper Stocking Rate (6-page article) | Worksheet
- Additional Resource: Idaho Rangeland Assessment CDE website | Western National Rangeland CDE website
- Tips for Calculating Stocking Rates: PowerPoint
Understanding animal behavior is important for rangeland management. In this lesson, you will learn what influences animals behavior, including inherited ability, learned behaviors, and instincts.
- Lesson: Animal Behavior on the Range presentation (31:12) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
- Additional Resources: Behavioral Education for Human, Animal, Vegetation, and Ecosystem Management website
Wildlife and Livestock Interactions
Rangeland is managed by multiple use principles. Hence, it is important to understand how to manage livestock and wildlife together, realizing that there are often trade-offs. In this lesson, you will learn about positive and negative interactions between wildlife and livestock. You will also learn what skilled livestock and wildlife managers are doing to create positive interactions for multiple species.
Start by watching the “Wildlife and Livestock Interactions” presentation and complete the noteguide as you watch. Within the presentation, there are several additional videos that should be watched. These videos will show you how collaborative efforts are creating habitat for multiple species. Estimated Time: 40 minutes. If you are in a classroom setting, complete the “Please Pass the Wheatgrass” activity. This activity will demonstrate the interactions between types and numbers of animals present and the amount of forage available. You may also be interested in learning the terminology often used to describe wildlife and livestock interactions (mutualism, commensalism, antagonism, competition, etc.) in the “Livestock and Wildlife Interactions” activity.
- Lesson: “Wildlife and Livestock Interactions” presentation (19:26) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
- Video: Managing for Wildlife Habitat on Rangeland (4:09)
- Video: Ranching’s Commitment to Wildlife (9:19)
- Life on the Range: SS Cattle Company (3:54)
- Activity: Please Pass the Wheatgrass (Estimated time: 60 minutes, preparation is required).
- Activity: Livestock and Wildlife Interactions (Estimate time: 40 minutes) | Lesson Plan
- Rangeland Ecosystems Around the World
Climate on Rangeland
Climate and topography influence when and where plants grow across the world. In this lesson, you will learn how climate affects vegetation patterns and be introduced to the largest terrestrial ecosystems or biomes of the world and throughout the US.
Start by watching the “Climates on Rangelands” presentation and complete the noteguide while you watch. Mountain ranges influence plant communities, complete the activity where you will name the major mountain ranges of the world. Next, name the deserts and notice the relationship between both. There are many resources that are available to help us understand the climate patterns across the US. In the PRISM activity, you will find the 30-year normal (or average) precipitation for a location you choose. You may also want to explore “Climate Engine“. Estimated Time: 80 minutes
- Lesson: Climates on Rangelands presentation (44:36) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
- Activity: Name the major mountain ranges and deserts of the world.
- Activity: PRISM | Website: PRISM
- Additional Resource: Climate Engine
Next to climate, soils are a major contributing factor of when and where plants will grow on rangeland. In this lesson, you will learn how soil is formed, and critical factors such as soil depth, texture, and structure, that contribute to the water-plant-soil relationship. You will also learn about Soil Maps and how they are used by land managers.
Start by watching the “Wildland Soils” presentation and complete the noteguide while you watch. Next, explore the Web Soil Survey (WSS) using the worksheet provided. The WSS provides soil data (e.g., soil types, texture, restrictive layer), as well as elevation, precipitation, and air temperature information across most of the US. Estimated Time: 40 minutes
- Lesson: Wildland Soils presentation (PowerPoint) | Noteguide
- Activity: Web Soil Survey worksheet | Web Soil Survey website
- Additional Resource: Texture This lesson
- Additional Resource: Using Web Soil Survey (PowerPoint) | Handout
Riparian and Wetland Ecosystems
Rangeland includes uplands (drier areas on a landscape), riparian areas (lands adjacent to surface water) and wetlands (areas that are permanently or seasonally saturated by water). In this lesson, you learn the characteristics of uplands, riparian areas, and wetlands. You will learn what are “healthy” vs. “degraded” riparian areas and strategies to improve them on the landscape. You will also be introduced to three animals found on rangeland, and learn three new plants that are critical components of most riparian areas.
Rangelands of the World
Rangeland makes up about 47% of the world land cover. These include grasslands, shrublands, woodlands and savannas, tundra and deserts. In this lesson, you will learn key characteristics of each type of rangeland and where they are located in the world. In the activity, you will visit the website WRANGLE (World Rnageland Learning Experience). On this website, you can find maps and videos for each biome on various continents.
- Lesson: Rangelands of the World presentation (30:54) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
- Activity: WRANGLE Exploration | WRANGLE website
Rangeland can be found throughout the western US. In this lesson, you will learn about the various types of rangeland in the US in two parts, 1) Pacific and Great Basin, and 2) Great Plains and Southwest. In these lessons, you will learn about climate regions, major plants and animals found in these regions, and learn a few challenges and opportunities that land managers face.
- Lesson: Rangelands of the US Part 1 presentation (29:39) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
- Annual Grassland Video: Cattle Grazing Important to Merced Vernal Pools and Grassland Natural Reserve (2:02)
Part 2: Great Plains and Southwest. Start this lesson by watching the “Rangelands of the US Part 2” presentation and complete the second part of the noteguide while you watch. In this lesson, you will also be introduced to four grasses, a forb, and two woody species found in the Great Plains and Southwest. Take time to learn the different characteristics of the plants and create flashcards for each. Estimated Time: 50 minutes
Describing and Monitoring Rangeland
When managing rangeland, monitoring resources is essential. In lesson, you will learn the difference between inventory, assessment, and monitoring. You will also learn how to set SMART objectives and be introduced to adaptive management.
Start by watching the “Describing and Monitoring Rangelands” presentation and complete the noteguide while you watch. Finish the lesson by watching Life on the Range: Range Monitoring catches on with Idaho ranchers. Estimated Time: 30 minutes
- Lesson: Describing and Monitoring Rangelands presentation (17:41) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
- Life on the Range: Range Monitoring catches on with Idaho ranchers (9:10)
Rangeland ecosystems are dynamic and constantly changing as a result of natures driving forces including climate, fire, insect outbreaks, flooding, wildlife foraging and weed invasion. Human induced disturbances such as urban expansion, domestic livestock grazing, recreational use, energy development and others also impact soil, plant composition, and wildlife habitats on rangeland.
Rangeland monitoring is a systematic approach to document vegetation change over time. Data derived from monitoring can help land managers determine the effectiveness of their management practices. In this lesson, you will learn various monitoring methods such as plant frequency, cover, and biomass.
Start by watching the “Measuring Rangelands” presentation and complete the noteguide as you watch. Next, explore the Landscape Toolbox website. On this website, you will be able to watch videos that are specific for each of the monitoring methods you just learned about.
- Lesson: Measuring Rangelands presentation (25.54) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
- The Landscape Toolbox website
Rangeland Field Activities
- Rangeland Site Descriptions. Lesson: Rangeland Site Descriptions | Worksheet: Rangeland Site Descriptions
The purpose of this activity is to provide students with an opportunity to conduct a rangeland site description in the field. Students will learn how to determine the slope and aspect of the site, texture soil, and find evidence of animal and human use. Estimated Time: 1 hour. Preparation before heading to the field is required.
- Estimating Rangeland and Pastureland Biomass. Lesson: Estimating Biomass | Worksheet: Estimating Biomass | Reading: Estimating Rangeland and Pastureland Biomass.
The purpose of this activity is to provide students with an opportunity to determine biomass produced on a specific rangeland sites. Students will learn direct and indirect methods to estimate biomass. This activity is best conducted concurrently with the “Rangeland Site Description” activity. Estimated Time: 1 hour. Preparation before heading to the field is required.
- Weed Inventory and Mapping. Lesson: Weed Inventory and Mapping.
This activity is a simple mapping exercise that uses GPS units and Google Maps. Estimated Time: 1-2 hours.
- Rangeland Ecology and Management
Forces of Change
Rangeland is dynamic. Drastic changes can be observed among seasons within a year and among years and decades. There are five major factors that cause rangeland to change over time, herbivory, fire, invasive plants, weather and climate, and fragmentation due to human influences. In this lesson, you will be introduced to forces of change, ecological services and resources, and tools we have for management.
Succession is a directional change of plant communities over time. These shifts are often predictable and gradual, however, on rangeland successional changes may be altered. For example, invasive annual grasses make it difficult for native perennial plants to thrive to altered fire regimes. In this lesson, you will learn about primary and secondary succession and how land managers use succession principles to rehabilitate rangeland after disturbances.
State-and-Transition Models (STM) provide a framework for understanding our current plant communities and how they may change following a disturbance, naturally over time, and/or with shifting climatic patterns. In this lesson, you will learn about STM including steady states, transitions, and thresholds. You will also learn about stepwise degradation and be provided with several rangeland examples.
Start by watching “State and Transition Models” presentation and complete the noteguide as you watch. Have a discussion on what is different between transitions and thresholds, and how land managers can use STM when implementing land management practices. Next, complete the activity by first, watching the video “Unraveling Sagebrush Community Change“. Next, download the State and Transition Simulation” and answer the questions on this worksheet. Estimated Time: 70 minutes
- Lesson: State and Transition Models presentation (20:13) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
- Activity: State and Transition Simulation | Unraveling Sagebrush Community Change video (23:08) | Worksheet
- Additional Resources: Pinon Juniper Field Guide (this guide provides more information on the examples shown in the presentation).
Managing Invasive Weeds
Invasive weeds on rangeland are ecologically damaging, as well as economically challenging. Each year, Idaho and private landowners spend close to $30 million dollars to combat weeds. In this lesson, you will learn why weed control is important and what land managers are doing to minimize their presence.
Start by watching “Managing Invasive Plants” presentation and the videos that are within the presentation. While you watch, complete the noteguide. Read “Got Weed? These Sheep Will Make House Calls” to learn about one strategy that is being used to minimize weeds. Estimated Time: 60 minutes
- Lesson: Managing Invasive Plants presentation (20:17) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
- Videos: Brush Chaining (3:59) | Biological Control of Leafy Spurge (25:07) | Target Grazing with Goats on Invasive Plants (3:14)
Fire has always been an important, natural cycle in most rangeland ecosystems. When fires are relatively small, they create patches (or mosaics) across the land. These patches create age diversity in plants, different habitats for animals, and can enhance nutrient cycling. In this lesson, you will learn about wildfires, wildland fire use, and prescribed fires. You will also learn about how fuel and weather conditions (e.g., temperature, relative humidity, etc.) influence fire behavior and what management techniques are being used throughout the west.
Start by watching the “Wildland Fire” presentation and complete the noteguide as you watch. Watch the videos to learn what land managers are doing now to minimize large, wildfires on rangeland currently and explore the fuels guide so see how fuel estimates are made. Estimated Time: 60 minutes
- Lesson: Wildland Fire presentation (25:49) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
- Life on the Range: BLM Experiments with Targeted Grazing (4:57)
- Life on the Range: New Fire Prevention Policy to Preserve Sage-grouse Habitat (19:15)
- Video: Up in Smoke: Fire and Invasives on Western Rangelands (5:56)
- Fuels Guide: Guide for Quantifying Fuels in the Sagebrush Steppe and Juniper Woodlands of the Great Basin.
Targeted Grazing for Landscapes
“Targeted Grazing is the carefully controlled grazing of livestock to accomplish specific vegetation management objectives. Unlike conventional grazing management, livestock are used as a tool for improving land health by performing weed control, reducing wildlife fire, and aiding in restoration projects.” –SRM Targeted Grazing Committee
In this lesson, you will learn about how livestock affects weeds, and benefits vs. cost of targeted grazing with plenty of examples of how it is working on rangeland. Start by watching the “Targeted Grazing” presentation and completed the noteguide as you watch. Do you think the benefits of targeted grazing outway the cost? Estimated Time: 60 minutes
- Lesson: Targeted Grazing presentation (41:20) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
- Additional Resources: Targeted Grazing Committee of the Society for Range Management website
Grazing Management Principles
There are six major principles for grazing management. 1) Know your resources and goals, 2) Balance animal demand with available forage supply, 3) manage livestock distribution, 4) avoid or minimize grazing during sensitive times, 5) provide effective rest after grazing, and 6) monitor for change. In this lesson, you will explore each the principles with examples from the range.
- Lesson: Principles of Grazing Management presentation (20:01) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
- Videos: Four Principles of Good Range Management for riparian areas (4:20)
- Video: Livestock and Water Distribution for Healthy Rangeland (3:26)
- Video: Grass Growth Stages and Grazing Impacts (3:42)
Grazing Methods and Systems
Grazing methods or systems are planning effort to leave some areas unused for at least part of the year. In this lesson, you will learn what grazing systems can accomplish, the difference between deferment and rest, and the pros/cons of several grazing systems such as deferred rotation, rest rotation, short-duration, and seasonal-suitability.
- Lesson: Grazing Methods and Systems presentation (22:55) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
- Video: Rotational Grazing to Improve Pastures (5:06)
Managing rangeland and other natural resources is complex. Adaptive Management is a management style that is cyclic, meaning you plan > do > learn > and continue through the cycle (plan > do > learn) again. This style encourages continual learning and adapting as management decisions are made. In this lesson, you will be lead through the scientific manuscript, Managing Complex Problems in Rangeland Ecosystems. Estimated Time: 40 minutes
- Lesson: Adaptive Management on Rangelands presentation (31:07) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
- Reading: Managing Complex Problems in Rangeland Ecosystems
Weather and climate are highly influential factors determining how rangeland changes over time. Water is the primary limiting resource on rangeland, and vegetation production depends heavily on water availability and suitable growing temperatures. The role of global climate change on rangeland has been a topic of debate and consternation. It is clear that climate is changing, but, the specific role that climate changes will have on any specific rangeland ecosystem is uncertain. In this lesson, you will learn about changes in greenhouse gasses, frost-free growing season, and intensified spring precipitation and how these affect rangeland. Estimated Time: 30 minutes
For this lesson, watch the “Changing Climate on Range” presentation and complete the noteguide as you watch. Also, take time to look at how two plant communities, shadescale and crested wheatgrass, change over 30+ years relative to precipitation.
- Lesson: Changing Climate on Range presentation (22:59) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
- Tracking Range Changes: Shadescale | Article
- Tracking Range Changes: Crested Wheatgrass | Article
In rangeland management, we have to manage for social, economic, and ecological rangeland sustainability. As we learned earlier in the “Value of Rangeland” lesson, people value and use rangeland differently. Take a minute and list as many human uses on rangeland you can think of. In this lesson, we will discuss multiple human uses and see how connected we all are.
For this lesson, watch the “Human Uses of Rangelands” presentation and complete the noteguide as you watch. Videos within the presentation are also listed below (Life on the Range). Also below is additional reading if you are interested in learning more about the social, ecological, and economic rangeland sustainability. Estimated Time: 60 minutes
- Lesson: Human Uses on Rangelands presentation (28:30) | Noteguide | PowerPoint
- Life on the Range: Karl Tyler inks conservation easement to protect prime salmon habitat (10:45)
- Life on the Range: Ranchers hit hard by wildfires; how can we avoid them in the future? (13:38)
- Life on the Range: Care and Share campaign gives recreation tips (7:15)
- Additional Reading: Putting the Pieces Together: Assessing Social, Ecological, and Economic Rangeland Sustainability
- Additional Reading: Rangeland Ecosystem Goods and Services
- Social and Community Assessment for Owhyee County
- Additional Reading: Sustainable Rangelands Ecosystem Goods and Services
Understanding trophic levels on rangeland is important, it helps us understand the relationship between producers, herbivores, and carnivores. In this lesson, you will learn about trophic levels and also learn about the value of rangeland as a way to supply food to the world.