EOARC Newsletter - Spring 2023

A Note from Dave:

Happy Spring to everyone – even though the weather doesn’t seem to know the calendar said it became Spring last month!!!  We are very thankful and appreciate the winter precipitation and snow pack that will allow for irrigating meadows and filling water holes; however, the timing, amount, and severity of winter conditions during calving season this year in Southeast Oregon has been very challenging for many beef producers, including EOARC, with some producers reporting calf losses approaching 50%.  For some perspective, one of our scientists here at EOARC, Stella Copeland with the USDA-ARS, compiled some historical weather data from the Northern Great Basin Experimental Range west of Burns and noted that the April snow pack was the greatest on record (since 1937) for early April, that March precipitation was a record for the past 20 years, and the temperature readings suggest we were having “normal” January conditions in late-March and early-April.

EOARC faculty and staff have remained busy and impactful over the past couple of months. EOARC was well represented at the Society for Range Management annual meeting in Boise. We highlighted many of our programs including strategic supplementation strategies, virtual fencing, first foods, rangeland restoration, and fuels management.  In addition, in late March we held a beef cattle Artificial Insemination School in which we provided 3 days of training and instruction to students from across Oregon and California who all completed the course and received certificates of completion – I want to note a special thanks to All West Select Sires and AgWest Farm Credit for the support and sponsorship.  Also, in early April we provided the lunch venue for the Ranch Tour associated with the Annual Harney County Migratory Bird Festival and provided the participants with an overview of EOARC, including our science and outreach programs.  The tour of our meadows was a big hit as we had large numbers of geese and Sandhill Cranes feeding in the meadows prior to resuming their migration to their nesting grounds in Alaska and British Columbia.  Also, Juliana Ranches traveled to Uberlândia, in the state of Minas Gerais, in Southeastern Brazil to provide an invited talk on her research with mineral supplementation and management of beef cattle.

In this edition, our Stakeholder Spotlight is Brenda Smith, the Executive Director of the High Desert Partnership who has been a key collaborator and friend of EOARC for years.  Brenda is active in numerous natural resource collaboratives and is a valued member of the EOARC Burns Advisory Committee. 

If you have any comments or suggestions about what you would like to see in future editions of the newsletter please feel free to contact Shellie Tiller (shellie.tiller@oregonstate.edu) and she will work with us to get all requests addressed.

I hope you are all well and that more typical spring weather arrives soon!!!

David Bohnert
Director, Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center (Burns and Union Stations)
Oregon State University

A Note from Chad:

Greetings from Burns!  It has been quite the winter.  After a tough calving season, many folks are having to feed longer/turn out later due to delayed green-up.  I guess the good news is that for the first time in years we’ve got good winter moisture which should lead to decent hay crops and range forage availability when all the snow finally melts.  I checked a snow gauging station northwest of Burns this morning and, for today’s date (4/21/2023), the water content in the remaining snowpack was 273% of normal.  

For those interested in checking snowpack conditions, click here to pull up a map of SNOTEL gauging stations.  Then just click on the station of interest and you will see a menu of options.  I like to click on the “Data Reports” option, and then click on “Water Year Chart (SWE and Precip)”.  This will take you to a graph of current snowpack conditions for that site, including remaining snow water content, and a comparison to the last 30 years. 

This February we were lucky to have the annual Society for Range Management meeting within driving distance (Boise) and it was great to see many of you there.  EOARC was well-represented with nearly 30 employees in attendance and a multitude of invited research talks and workshops (see “Outreach and Educational Activities” section below).  

On Wednesday, June 21, from 8:00AM to 2:30PM, we will be holding the EOARC Range Field Day at the Northern Great Basin Experimental Range.  Range Field Day has been an annual event and rotates Between EOARC Burns, EOARC Union, and OSU campus.  Due to Covid-related meeting restrictions, we were unable to hold the event for several years and are excited about the opportunity to restart this tradition.  This year we will focus on in-the-field learning experiences related to our long-term grazing exclosures, rangeland carbon and methane dynamics, and virtual fencing.  Lunch will be provided for all participants, and during lunch there will be an opportunity to view posters and exhibits relating to current research.  The Field Day will conclude mid-afternoon followed by a brief meeting of the EOARC Advisory Committee at the NGBER conference room.      

In this edition of the EOARC Newsletter we are spotlighting Brenda Smith, who is Executive Director of the High Desert Partnership (HDP) here in Burns and Christie Guetling, a Range Technician with Burns ARS.  Brenda, who at one time worked at EOARC Burns, has provided the leadership for HDP to grow into a regional and national leader in collaborative natural resource conservation and she and HDP are valued stakeholders of EOARC.  Christie is a key member of our research team and manages all aspects of field data collection on a wide variety of restoration-oriented research projects.  We are blessed to have her as part of the EOARC family and wish she and Clay the best with the upcoming addition to their own family.

As always, feel free to reach out to me at any time and thank you all for your support of EOARC.

Chad Boyd
Research Leader, Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center, Burns
USDA-Agricultural Research Service

A Note from Cameron: TNC

Happy spring (finally)! The transition from deep snow to duck-covered fields and pastures was rapid and welcome. Hopefully we continue to have good moisture this spring, and the transition to summer heat happens a bit more slowly. This season is an exciting one for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) at EOARC. Please join me in welcoming our three new technicians: Michael LeBaron, Corinne Schroeder, and Schuyler Todd! They will be conducting seed technology research in conjunction with our ARS partners and bring a wealth of experience and enthusiasm to the team.

TNC is proud to be hosting our annual state board meeting in Burns on May 18 and 19. TNC’s board of trustees will be coming to ‘the dry side’ to hear about the awesome work of ARS, OSU, UVM, and the Oregon Desert Land Trust (and TNC of course!). We will be celebrating the public/private partnerships that are necessary for successful management of sagebrush landscapes, and will be learning about the use of herbicide protection technology, virtual cattle fencing, and employing resistance and resilience concepts in rangeland management. Dylan O’Leary and Hayley Kolding will be traveling from the University of Vermont (UVM) to present on the research they conducted at the Trout Creek Ranch for their graduate studies. Dylan and Hayley conducted respective mesic and upland ecological surveys, and used these data, along with satellite imagery, to make management recommendations to the Oregon Desert Land Trust. Their work will be essential for preserving intact core areas and guiding the prioritization of restoration activities in this vast landscape.

Our team has also been taking our work on the road this spring! Restoration scientist Owen Baughman traveled to Washington D.C. last month to present at the national Native Seed Conference, while I attended the Grasslands Conservation Network Meeting in Victoria, Texas. Successful sagebrush conservation requires a diversity of approaches, and we were fortunate to learn from similar efforts in other parts of the world.

That’s all for now, and as always, please don’t hesitate to reach out if there’s anything I can do for you.

Please feel free to reach out to cameron.duquette@tnc.org with any questions!

Cameron Duquette 
The Nature Conservancy

A Note from Bryan: EOARC Union

Greetings from Union!  Most days this past month have not really felt like spring…but I guess here we are…ready to start another exciting field season! We have been busy on several fronts and this year will be one of the most active in recent memory.  

On the personnel side, we are excited to announce we have hired Isabella Blair as a new full time Biological Sciences Research Technician here at the Station.  One of Belle’s primary tasks will be to lead the range riding effort at Starkey Experimental Forest and Range as part of our riparian restoration and grazing research along Meadow Creek. Belle first started with us as an undergraduate student technician, and we are delighted to add her to our permanent staff.  In May, we will be interviewing candidates for a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Rangeland Sciences as well. This position (as well as the addition of Belle) will greatly strengthen our ability to conduct meaningful research and outreach.

We continue to make improvements to the Union’s infrastructure and research capacity.  Construction of the new Native Plant Research Propagation Facility will begin, and we have added new equipment to support our research related to rangeland restoration, seed ecology, and native plant propagation. For example, we are excited to have purchased a two-way thermogradient table, a machine that will allow us to quickly evaluate seed germination rates under a range of day and nighttime temperatures and allow us to assess potential impacts of climate change on seed germination of plant species.

 At the same time, we continue our work on beef cattle production and grazing systems. We will implement the second year of our research using virtual fences to improve riparian grazing management. We are also examining the feasibility of virtual fence technology in the Meadow Creek allotment at Starkey Experimental Forest and Range. Large portions of the forested allotment are rugged, with steep draws and canyons- a situation typical of many public grazing allotments in the Blue Mountains. It will be a great test to see how well the technology performs under these conditions. We continue to engage with a wide range of partners, collaborators, and stakeholders in our effort to generate, apply and share information that supports healthy communities, economics, and ecosystems of the region. 

Please do not hesitate to reach out at any time,

Bryan Endress
Assistant Director EOARC - Union

EOARC Upcoming Events

2nd Grade Field Trip May 4, 2023

Range Field Day/Advisory Meeting June 21, 2023   Agenda   Map to NGBER

Stakeholder Spotlight: Brenda Smith 

I am the Executive Director of High Desert Partnership since 2015 and part of my work is bringing together diverse partners in collaboration.  The culture of collaboration in Harney County is a result of the shared science and partnerships we have with EOARC. The partnership we have with EOARC is so important.  For most of my career I have had a deep interest in bringing science and management together to solve the complex issues in natural resources and the impact of that on our rural economy. To have the scientists and resources at EOARC that are willing to roll their sleeves up at the intersection of science and management is invaluable to solving these issues.

My work in collaboration started years ago when I trained in facilitation while teaching agriculture courses at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in the 1990s. I have a degree in weed science, and the nice thing about this field of study is that crosses many disciplines, there are weeds in the forest, range lands, aquatic weeds, landscape and  crop production. I am kind of a generalist; I know a little bit about a lot of things. I also have learned that ultimately the people side of managing weeds is more important than the other tools we have to manage weeds. This is where I really began to think the people-side of some of our complex problems in natural resources needed a lot of attention. I have diverse experiences in my career that range from starting my own business of an intensive market farm using the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model to market vegetables and cut flowers, to conducting agricultural research, to starting a university on-farm internship program, to developing outreach products for land managers. All of these experiences have led me to better understand the complexities of working in partnerships and landscape-scale management and the importance of addressing land management’s social issues. 

When I moved to Harney County with my son Austin in 2008 who was starting high school at the time, I took a position with EOARC to work on an extensive USDA- ARS grant funded project for managing invasive annual grasses on rangelands across 5 states. It was also during this time that we all partnered with the Harney County Watershed Council to host the High Desert Range Camp for high school students. This program has been held at the Northern Great Basin Experimental Range near Riley. This is where I learned how invested the EOARC staff are in sharing knowledge. Everyone is incredibly giving of their time and expertise for this camp and it has also blossomed into a college camp - Science in the Sagebrush Steppe.  Truly a community partnership to pull these programs off. 

I take great comfort living in Harney County, it is the most beautiful place I have ever lived and a great place to raise my son. I have a debt of gratitude to teachers, coaches, business owners and friends.  They all contribute to making Harney County great.  This is what inspires me to be part of the generous can-do spirit of the community.  I am honored to be a member of the EOARC Advisory Council and I'm also happy to contribute to this newsletter.

Brenda Smith 
Executive Director, High Desert Partnership  

Christie Guetling - USDA/ARS


Christie joined the Burns ARS in the summer of 2020 as a Range Technician for Dr. Kirk Davies. Prior to coming to the EOARC Christie was doing graduate research at the University of Idaho with Dr. Tim Prather. Her research used remote sensing to predict locations of invasive forbs in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. This work aimed to assist land managers in finding new infestation of invasive weeds, allowing managers to quickly treat and eradicate weeds at a local level. Working with Kirk at the EOARC has provided Christie with the opportunity to explore different restoration methods at varying spatial scales and over time, primarily in landscapes invaded by annual grasses following wildfire. Some of the restoration methods include: activated carbon seed coatings and pellets, application timing and rate of different herbicides, and drill seeding versus broadcast seeding. Christie’s favorite part of the job is training seasonal technicians and running a summer field crew. Christie loves seeing them develop a connection to a (often unfamiliar) landscape and gain appreciation for the beauty and value of the sagebrush steppe.  

Christie grew up in southern Indiana where she always dreamed of moving out west. In 2015, after a field season with the Boise BLM identifying pygmy rabbit burrows along fuel breaks, she fell in love with the sagebrush steppe and realized this was the ecosystem where she wanted to live and work. Since moving to Burns with her husband, Clay, she has grown to love the remote lifestyle and access to wild places. They enjoy taking their dog on hiking and cross-country skiing adventures in the area. Currently, Christie and Clay are most looking forward to welcoming a baby boy into their family in May.   




Virtual Fence Application Riparian Exclusion


David Bohnert, OSU Professor and member of the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center's Precision Agriculture Technology Workgroup, talks about utilizing virtual fencing to increase management options and flexibility when grazing montane riparian areas that are often critical habitat for threatened and endangered anadromous fish such as salmon and steelhead.

Virtual Fencing - Making a Base Station Mobile


Chad Boyd, USDA-ARS Research leader and member of the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center's Precision Agriculture Technology Workgroup, talks about how virtual fence technology works and some innovative solutions to make virtual fence base stations mobile. DIY Mobile Base Station Conversion Guide

Outreach & Educational Activities




Wilderness First Aid Training - Working in remote field locations means calling 911 might not be an option, and even if you do have cell coverage help might still be hours away.  As part of our field crew training, we offer Wilderness First Aid (WFA) training for our employees.  This year we had 13 people attend the training provided by Garrett Genereux with Cascade Wilderness Medicine, LLC. Students learned how to evaluate several different scenarios that could be encountered in the field, and how to confidently treat and manage those situations.  WFA, in addition to inReach units, help our crews stay safe no matter the location.  




Society for Range Management Annual Meeting, February 12-16, 2023 in Boise, ID - EOARC represented eastern Oregon rangeland science exceptionally well at the Society for Range Management (SRM) annual meeting in Boise, Idaho this past February. EOARC representatives from Oregon State University, The Nature Conservancy, and USDA-Agricultural Research Service combined sent a delegation of 26 researchers, technicians, and graduate students that all presented on various topics such as virtual fencing, cattle nutrition, fine fuel management, rangeland restoration, first foods, native plant communities, rangeland carbon, and riparian management. Within this group we received 9 invitations to speak in special organized sessions and symposia, and organized 3 management oriented workshops. Every person that attended represented the EOARC exceptionally well and all of our science was well received among other rangeland professionals nationally and internationally.


Artificial Insemination School - The 2023 EOARC Burns AI School is in the books. We had 3 great days of classes, and everyone made excellent progress each day. We started the workshop with an introduction to AI, reproductive anatomy and AI techniques, and then reproductive tract preface.  Day two was filled with physiology of the estrous cycle, synchronization, heat detection and semen handling.  The last day we discussed bull selection, using across-breed EPDs, managing nutrition for reproductive success and repro tract & semen.  Friday the weather was a little windy and cold, but everyone dressed warm, and we got the last day of live cow practice done. All students received their Certificate of completion. Thanks All West Select Sires and AgWest Farm Credit for the support and sponsorship.
Roadside Cleanup - On April 11, 2023 staff from EOARC Burns participated in roadside cleanup.  We have 3 miles of assigned roadside and gathered 20 bags of garbage from that stretch of road.  We wanted it to look nice for the Harney County Bird Festival.
Ranch Tour 2023 -  EOARC provided the lunch stop for the Annual Harney County Migratory Bird Festival’s Ranch Tour.   EOARC representatives provided the participants with an overview of EOARC programs, including research on emerging technologies for precision livestock management, and led a brief tour of our meadows where they saw large numbers of geese and Sandhill Cranes feeding prior to resuming their migration to their nesting grounds in Alaska and British Columbia.

Recent Publications 

Reproductive Compensatory Photosynthesis in a Semi‑Arid Rangeland Bunchgrass
Hamerlynck, Erik P., R.C. O’Connor, S.M. Copeland

Variable Effects of Long-Term Livestock Grazing Across the Western United States Suggest
Diverse Approaches are Needed to Meet Global Change Challenges

Copeland, Stella M., D.L. Hoover, D.J. Augustine, J.D. Bates, C.S. Boyd, K.W. Davies, J.D. Derner,
M.C. Duniway, L.M. Porensky, L.T. Vermeire

Effects of Using Indaziflam and Activated Carbon Seed Technology in Efforts to Increase Perennials in Ventenata dubia–Invaded Rangelands
Davies, Kirk W., C.S. Boyd, O.W. Baughman, D.R. Clenet


It’s always good to be thinking about preparing for wildfire. Check out the Extension Fire Program’s webinars, readiness checklists, and other resources related to wildfire preparedness here.

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