A Note from Dave:
Welcome to the 2022 Spring EOARC Newsletter. I hope you are all well and enjoying the beautiful weather – unfortunately, most of us have not had the precipitation that our mountains, rivers/streams, meadows, forests, and rangelands so desperately need. Consequently, it appears that 2022 will be a very challenging year for people and agencies involved in livestock and natural resource management.
Also, the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences (CAS) had a leadership transition. Dr. Alan Sams left OSU for Texas A&M to serve as Vice President for Operational Innovation. I am happy to report that as of March 28, Dr. Staci Simonich has been appointed as OSU’s Dean of Agricultural Sciences and Director of the Oregon Agricultural Experiment Stations. Prior to this she served as the CAS Executive Associate Dean. Her commitment to CAS and its stakeholders is illustrated in the first email she sent to CAS faculty & staff as Dean. In that email she stated the following: “I am truly honored to lead our college and am inspired by all that you do. As a 20-year veteran of Oregon State University and our college, I am embedded in the fabric of this astounding if sometimes imperfect community—and I am invested in working alongside all of you as we strive to always grow, learn, and lead, convinced that each day we truly do make tomorrow better for everyone. I am also convinced that in order to effectively meet our responsibilities, we must be out there, in the fields, rangelands, waterways, and coastal communities that depend upon the scientific discovery, academic discipline, and economic vitality of the College of Agricultural Sciences, our 14 agricultural experiment station locations and Extension service. Striking a careful balance between conservation and production, we must partner hand-in-hand with our diverse and invested stakeholders who make up the incredibly valuable network of our agricultural and natural resource system”. Bright and exciting days are ahead for OSU and the College of Agricultural Sciences!
EOARC faculty are conducting and collaborating on numerous projects this upcoming summer and fall. A non-inclusive list includes projects utilizing virtual fence technology to manage riparian grazing, virtual fence technology to strategically target fine fuels management within large rangeland landscapes, assessing the effects of wildfire smoke on cattle health and productivity, quantifying the role of livestock grazing on carbon flux of rangelands, and helping the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association with a Livestock & Rural Crime Training program. We will be busy but should generate some interesting and impactful activities that are needed by our industry and stakeholders.
In this edition, OSU is highlighting Dustin Johnson. Dustin is the Rangeland Outreach Coordinator for OSU and is stationed at EOARC Burns. His extension and applied research programs revolve around improving the efficiency and sustainability of the ranching industry in eastern Oregon. More specifics about his programming are included in his overview in this edition. I hope you continue to find the newsletter informative!
Director, Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center (Burns and Union Stations)
Oregon State University
A Note from Chad:
Greetings from Burns. I hope this Spring installment of the EOARC Newsletter finds you and your families well. Here at EOARC we are in the beginning stages of our spring/summer field season and are watching our population grow dramatically with incoming summer employees.
Drought is certainly on the minds of many and the 2022 growing season is shaping up to be historically dry. This past week Tony Svejcar and I facilitated a Farm Bureau-sponsored meeting between local permittees, federal land management agency representatives, local ag service agencies (FSA, NRCS, SWCD), and County government. The overall objective of the meeting was to facilitate communication between federal agency personnel and permittees concerning grazing and monitoring plans for the 2022 grazing season. Specifically, we sought to get information and answers to permittee questions regarding grazing management and discuss options for dealing with drought effects during the 2022 grazing season.
The main take-home from this meeting was the importance of ongoing permittee/agency communication regarding resource conditions and monitoring. Agencies emphasized that now is the time to begin thinking about options for managing livestock distribution in a year that is likely (almost certain at this point) to have limited forage on impacted rangelands. Permittees were encouraged to make plans to make maximum use of tools such as riding and hauling water, particularly since water could be the most limiting factor on some non-forested allotments. On that subject, FSA detailed programs that provide financial offsets for drought impacts that help pay for costs associated with hauling water or hay during the grazing season. This applies to activities on both public and private ground. Those interested should discuss program requirements with their local FSA representative as soon as possible.
This year may bring particular challenges to permittees operating on Forest Service-administered allotments where riparian monitoring sites often dictate grazing duration. Again, communication with your Range Con, early and often, was emphasized. Those communications should include discussion of how and when monitoring will be conducted and how riparian monitoring protocols will play out for monitoring sites that lack key riparian characteristics this year due to drought.
The subject of non-use also came up. Both BLM and USFS indicated that permittees could take non-use for resource protection, which could help alleviate concerns about meeting actual use requirements if operators are considering selling a significant number of cattle in association with drought conditions, or in cases where there is insufficient forage to justify turn-out of permitted numbers.
While it won’t provide any relief in the current year, NRCS and local SWCDs have a number of cost support programs (e.g., annual grass treatments, juniper cutting) that will help landowners build rangeland and operational resilience to drought in the years to come.
In this addition of the EOARC Newsletter we are featuring two of our ARS administrative professionals: Liz Alberta, our Program Support Assistant, and Linda Villagrana Miller, our Office Secretary. Their hard work and professionalism are foundational to the sustained impact of EOARC and we all sincerely appreciate their daily contributions to our collective success.
As always, feel free to reach out to us at any time.
Research Leader, Burns ARS
A Note from Andrew:
Greetings! As we enter the spring months, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is preparing for an exciting field season and recently hired two additional seasonal staff who are based out of EOARC, Tina Billie and Ellen Grupe. Anna Hosford is a Burns-local who worked for TNC last year and is joining the team again for the 2022 field season. This outstanding crew will work with TNC Restoration Scientist, Owen Baughman, on a variety of impactful research efforts focused on improving restoration success in sagebrush steppe habitats.
TNC is supporting Oregon Desert Land Trust (ODLT) with the management of the recently acquired Trout Creek Ranch near Fields, Oregon. The ranch consists of over 16,000 acres of private land and over 500,000 acres of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) allotments. Trout Creek Ranch is a working cattle ranch and ODLT is working with TNC, BLM, and some of the neighboring ranches to establish a short-term grazing management plan for the next several years. TNC is providing scientific expertise as well as years of experience managing large-scale ranches to ODLT. Some of the projects TNC is supporting include an efficient pasture monitoring program to support the livestock operation, a prioritization of areas for managing invasive annual grasses or restoring perennial grasses, and an assessment of the condition and infrastructure of the important mesic resources on the ranch such as springs and streams. Trout Creek Ranch represents an exciting opportunity to research, test, and demonstrate data-driven approaches to livestock management, restoration, fire prevention, and wide variety of other topics that are relevant to the staff at EOARC.
Finally, I want to share some bittersweet news that I am leaving my role with TNC for a job with Intermountain West Joint Venture in Montana. As Science to Implementation Coordinator, I will continue to work with land managers, livestock producers, and conservation organizations to sustainably manage rangeland habitats across the Intermountain West while applying the best available science to threats like large-scale wildfires, invasive annual grasses, and conifer encroachment. TNC is committed to filling my position at EOARC.
I look forward to continued collaboration and partnership with the outstanding staff at EOARC in my new role. I can be reached at email@example.com.
Rangeland Scientist, The Nature Conservancy
Scientists Honored with Awards from Society for Range Management
Two of our ARS scientists, Dr. Jon Bates and Dr. Kirk Davies, were selected for major awards from the Society for Range Management. These awards were presented in February at the SRM Annual Meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Dr. Kirk Davies
Dr. Jon Bates
Jon received the SRM Sustained Lifetime Achievement Award for “long-term contributions to the art and science of rangeland management.” This is a very prestigious award and the past recipients read like a who’s who in the field of Rangeland Ecology and Management. Over the past 30 years Jon has made lasting science contributions through his research in the areas of juniper ecology and management, fire impacts (and management of those impacts) on sagebrush plant communities, grazing management, sage-grouse habitat ecology and management, and plant community classification in the sagebrush-steppe. Jon’s work has resulted in over 100 journal and technical publications and can be found as cited references in a litany of federal land management agency planning documents; a testament to Jon’s impact.
Kirk received the SRM Fellow Award for “…exceptional service to the Society and its programs in advancing the science and art of range-related resource management.” Kirk’s broad-based research and outreach program includes work on seed enhancement technologies, managing fire risk and severity with cattle grazing, management of exotic annual grass communities, shrub restoration, sagebrush plant community potentials, and feral horse impacts on sagebrush and riparian plant communities. This work has generated over 200 journal and extension articles, frequent requests for invited presentations from management, science, and producer groups, and garnered information requests from 19 countries spread across 6 continents.
Congratulations to both Jon and Kirk for a job well done!
Dustin Johnson - OSU
Dustin Johnson joined the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center (EOARC) in 2012, first as an Oregon State University (OSU) Livestock and Rangeland Extension Agent and, since 2019, as the OSU Rangeland Outreach Coordinator. Dustin’s responsibilities mainly include developing outreach programs that translate the science conducted at the EOARC and OSU into useful products in support of sound rangeland and livestock management. Another component of his work includes coordination of statewide rangeland extension programs and projects. The focus of his outreach and applied research includes developing resilient natural resource and livestock management systems, identifying management practices that enhance the productivity and resiliency of rangelands, and facilitating landowner and grazing permitee participation in cooperative rangeland assessment and monitoring programs.
Dustin is currently involved in a variety of research projects at EOARC including studies of 1) sagebrush management techniques for improving productivity and wildfire resilience of rangelands, 2) influence of wild horse grazing on sagebrush habitats, 3) effects of juniper reduction on aspen-dominated habitats and associated wildlife, 4) effectiveness of virtual fence technology for managing livestock grazing in riparian pastures, and 5) the management-scale efficacy of indaziflam (Rejuvra©) for controlling medusahead. An example of Dustin’s recent outreach efforts included working with SageSHARE partners to develop a management guide, complementary field guide, and related trainings to support rangeland and grazing management in the northern Great Basin. These outreach products highlight a threat-based land management approach, a 6-step process that helps rangeland owners and managers to efficiently identify, discuss and address the landscape-level threats of invasive annual grasses, juniper, and wildfire. Dustin is currently working with colleagues to develop a complementary set of resources to support management of riparian areas in southeastern Oregon. Dustin and colleagues will be offering a series of related field-based trainings on riparian area assessment and management in July of this year. They’re still working on the details, so if you think you might be interested in this training be sure to check EOARC’s Facebook page or website in the future to learn more. Alternatively, you can always reach out directly to Dustin anytime via email or at (541) 573-8933 to learn more about the training or any of his outreach and applied research programs.
Liz Alberta - Program Support Assistant - USDA-ARS
Liz Alberta is the Program Support Assistant for USDA-ARS. Liz started her career with the National Park Service in 2014, under Fee Management. In April of 2019, she was offered the Secretary position with USDA-ARS at EOARC. In December of 2019, she was promoted to the Program Support Assistant position. Liz's roles here vary depending on the time of year, and needs at the location or Area Office level. Some duties include; purchasing, agreements, workers compensation, annual reports, orientation, and onboarding of new employees. Liz also is the Location Environmental Management System Coordinator. She is currently representing office professionals in the Pacific West, with the PWA Council for Office Professionals. In 2021, Liz took on the role of Lincpass activator for Eastern Oregon, she assists other agencies in regards to their ID cards.
When she is not busy in the office, Liz enjoys spending her time with her two sons, Bodie and Ransom Alberta. Bodie is a 2nd grader and Ransom is in kindergarten at Slater Elementary. They teach their mom about science, geography, and the importance of Legos. They enjoy attending church, cooking, camping, as well as spontaneous road trips.
Linda Villagrana Miller - Secretary USDA-ARS
I started working at EOARC in June of 2020. I provide support to ARS scientists by doing purchasing, entering and updating paperwork for their manuscripts, track property and vehicles, assist with processing payroll and anything administrative that comes up. My favorite part of work at EOARC is helping others and working with the wonderful ARS and OSU staff.
I grew up in Harney County so coming here was not entirely new. I was born in Mexico but when I was ten my family moved to Roaring Springs Ranch where my dad worked for over 30 years. I met my husband, Travis, at the Roaring Springs where he was working with an OSU grad student doing research and they needed my help drilling holes with a tractor. Two years later we started dating while attending college at OSU for my B.S. in business administration. After living in Montana where Travis earned his Master’s degree and in Nevada for his first full time job, we moved back to Harney County in 2008 and have been here since.
When I’m not at work I am busy with my kids, Lucian, Ariah and Selah, taking them to and from activities, attending their athletic activities when I can, helping at our church or volunteering for the Kid’s Club by serving on the board. As a family we like to take walks/hikes in our great “backyard.”
Owen Baughman - TNC
Working with land managers in Nevada
to calibrate seeding drills while
installing an experiment to compare
different native seed mixes after wildfire.
Owen Baughman came to the EOARC in Burns in early 2018 as a Precision Restoration Scientist with The Nature Conservancy. Growing up in the remote sagebrush-filled valleys of Eastern Nevada, Owen enjoys Burns for its many familiar sights, sounds, and adventures, and is proud to be part of such a large and productive research community in such a place. Prior to his current role, he was a Research Faculty at the University of Nevada Reno. He received his MS (Natural Resource Ecology) in 2014, working in Dr. Elizabeth Leger’s Plant Ecology Lab, and his BS (Ecology and Conservation Biology) in 2010 from the University of Idaho.
Small-plot restoration research in an
Idaho field site allows for the testing
of many experimental seeding treatments
He has participated in research on various aspects of understanding and managing sagebrush plant communities for nearly two decades. For his undergraduate and graduate work, he studied the mysterious (but very real) phenomenon of naturally-occurring cheatgrass die-offs across five sagebrush steppe states, sampling soil seed banks, classifying pathogens, and performing epidemiological lab and field trials. This work, via collaboration with many other researchers, resulted in a better understanding of the frequency and spatial distribution of these events and evidence that these year-long fallowing events represent an opportunity for improved success of native species restoration. As Research Faculty at UNR, Owen helped implement and analyze nearly a dozen plant restoration or conservation projects, led a collaborative review and meta-analysis to understand how much local adaptation and within-species variation of traits exists for native plants of the Great Basin, and helped advocate for improved conceptual and practical approaches to how native seeds for restoration are generated.
As part of the EOARC team, Owen’s focus has been to work with ARS and OSU scientists, TNC colleagues, and land managers across the sagebrush sea to field-test and refine several promising seed enhancement technologies aimed at making restoration more successful, such as herbicide protection seed treatments (see Kirk Davies’ research in a prior newsletter). He has also been fortunate to be involved with several collaborative efforts to help advance new and useful concepts for the future of restoration planning and native seed use in this special region. At the end of the day, Owen is fulfilled by helping generate or apply knowledge that leads to improved diversity, function, and management of the ecosystems that he has spent his life exploring and enjoying. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jerry Nyman, in his natural habitat
For the past few years Jerry Nyman has been in charge of road maintenance at our Northern Great Basin Experimental Range (a.k.a. “The Butte”). Jerry has spent countless hours bringing in new base material and meticulously blading the roads; his skills with a road grader are unmatched. As a result of his efforts we now have a pretty incredible road system that is reducing our equipment maintenance needs, makes it much easier to haul heavy loads (cattle and water), and allows you to keep all your dental work while driving. Jerry your efforts are very much appreciated!
Are Drought Indices and Climate Data Good Indicators of Ecologically Relevant Soil Moisture Dynamics in Drylands?
Barnard, D.M., M.J. Germino, J.B. Bradford, R.C. O’Connor, C.M. Andrews, R.K. Shriver
Effects of Virtual Fence Monitored by Global Positioning System on Beef Cattle Behavior
Ranches, Juliana, R.C. O’Connor, D.D. Johnson, K.W. Davies, J.D. Bates, C.S. Boyd, D.W. Bohnert, T. Parker
The Elevational Ascent and Spread of Exotic Annual Grass Dominance in the Great Basin, USA
Smith, Joseph T., B.W. Allred, C.S. Boyd, K.W. Davies, M.O. Jones, A.R. Kleinhesselink,
J.D. Maestas, S.L. Morford, D.E. Naugle
Photochemical Performance of Reproductive Structures in Great Basin Bunchgrasses in Response to Soil-Water Availability
Hamerlynck, Erik P., R.C. O’Connor
Weather Explains Differences in Sagebrush-Obligate Songbird Nest Success Under Various Grazing Regimes
Schroeder, Vanessa M., W.D. Robinson, D.D. Johnson, D.W. Bohnert, J.B. Dinkins
Poor Relationships Between NEON Airborne Observation Platform Data and Field-Based Vegetation Traits at a Mesic Grassland
Pau, Stephanie, J.B. Nippert, R.Slapikas, D. Griffith, S. Bachle, B.R. Helliker, R.C. O’Connor,
W.J. Riley, C.J. Still, M. Zaricor
Virtual Fencing Effectively Excludes Cattle from Burned Sagebrush Steppe
Boyd, Chad S., R.C. O’Connor, J.Ranches, D.W. Bohnert, J.D. Bates, D.D. Johnson, K.W. Davies, T. Parker, K.E. Doherty
Timing of Maternal Supplementation of Dried Distillers Grains During Late Gestation Influences Postnatal Growth, Immunocompetence, and Carcass Characteristics of Bos
Indicus-Influenced Beef Calves
Palmer, Elizabeth A., M. Vedavatto, R.A. Oliveira, J. Ranches, J.M.B. Vendramini, M.H. Poore,
T. Martins, M. Binelli, J.D. Arthington, P. Moriel
Off-Season Grazing Reduces Exotic Annual Grasses and Increases Native Bunchgrass
Davies, Kirk W., C.S. Boyd, S.M. Copeland, J.D. Bates
Effects of Maternal Winter vs. Year-Round Supplementation of Protein and Energy on Postnatal Growth, Immune Function, and Carcass Characteristics of Bos Indicus-Influenced Beef Offspring
Palmer, Elizabeth A., M. Vedovatto, R.A. Oliveira, J. Ranches, J.M.B. Vendramini, M.H. Poore,
T. Martins, M. Binelli, J.D. Arthington, P. Moriel
What Is Driving the Proliferation of Exotic Annual Grasses in Sagebrush Communities? Comparing Fire with Off-Season Grazing
Davies, Kirk W., C.S. Boyd, J.D. Bates, L.M. Hallett, M.F. Case, L. Svejcar
Moderate Grazing During the Off-Season (Fall-Winter) Reduces Exotic Annual Grasses in Sagebrush-Bunchgrass Steppe
Davies, Kirk W., C.S. Boyd, S.M. Copeland, J.D. Bates
Grazing Effects on Shrub-Induced Resource Islands and Herbaceous Vegetation Heterogeneity in Sagebrush-Steppe Communities
Davies, Kirk W., S.M. Copeland, J.D. Bates
OSU Forestry and Natural Resources Extension’s Wildfire Wednesdays wrapped up in December. You can find recordings of the webinars, readiness checklists, and other resources related to fire preparedness here.