A Note from Dave:
The summer is flying by!!! We do have some exciting updates that I would like to share related to support that EOARC has received as part of the Oregon State University/College of Agricultural Sciences Cattle Plan that was released in the Fall of 2021. As I noted in the Spring newsletter, Bryan Endress was hired as Assistant Director of EOARC Union and is already working on improving the research infrastructure and research/outreach collaboration at the station. In addition, he will be a regular contributor to the newsletter highlighting EOARC Union (see his first installment in this edition). EOARC Union received $250K in the last legislative session and we are deep into the process of upgrading research infrastructure and experiential learning around native plant/seed restoration research. The search process is underway for a tenure-track Rangeland Scientist (Research & Teaching) that will be housed at EOARC Union and will also be involved in the teaching curriculum within the Animal and Rangeland Sciences Department in Corvallis and the OSU Agriculture and Natural Resource Program at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande. OSU Extension hired Will Price as the Rangeland/Forage/Livestock Position for Baker & Union Counties in Mid-June. EOARC Union is providing office space for Will when he is in Union County and Bryan and he are working to begin collaborating on research and outreach programs. EOARC Burns and Union are working together on a study at the Hall Ranch evaluating the efficacy of virtual fence technology to affect cattle distribution in riparian areas. Lastly, EOARC Union and the OSU Agriculture and Natural Resource Program at EOU are collaborating to provide “in-the-field” learning opportunities for undergraduate students in rangeland sciences – For example, the first class will be this fall with approximately 20 undergraduate students spending a week at EOARC Union and throughout Union County learning rangeland monitoring methods and techniques.
EOARC Burns had our Annual Advisory/Liaison Meeting on Tuesday July 19th. It was a tough time of year for the meeting as many stakeholders and EOARC staff had prior commitments but it was good to meet in-person for the first time in 2 years. We had a very productive meeting and had the honor of CAS Dean, Staci Simonich, and Animal and Rangeland Sciences Department Head, Carol Lorenzen, able to make the trip to Burns and they participated in the meeting.
On a negative note, grasshoppers have been a significant pest this summer at EOARC Burns. Hopefully, many of you have not had to deal with the nasty windshields and pasture/rangeland impacts that we have.
In this edition, OSU is highlighting Vanessa Schroeder. Vanessa is a Faculty Research Assistant with OSU Extension and is stationed at EOARC Burns. She works on a diverse array of projects involving wildlife, livestock, grazing, and natural resource management in eastern Oregon. More specifics about her programming are included in her overview in this edition. We are also highlighting 2 individuals essential to the operation of EOARC Burns and Union – Skip Nyman and Jake Ricker. Skip and Jake are the ranch managers for EOARC Burns and Union, respectively. Their expertise, dedication, and friendship are greatly appreciated.
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:
Greeting from Burns! It’s hard to believe that we are already in August. This field season has been a welcome relief from the past two field seasons, which were impacted heavily by Covid rules and regulations. I don’t want to jinx us, but this actually felt like a normal year and let’s hope that the future holds more of the same.
I wanted to take a moment and talk about the vital role that our seasonal (i.e., temporary) employees play in research at EOARC Burns. Each year, between OSU, ARS, and TNC we hire in the neighborhood of 30 to 40 seasonal (largely summer) employees to help with field data collection, lab work, and maintenance. These positions are staffed by a wide variety of employees that include local high school students and students at colleges and universities across the U.S. Without these folks our ability to conduct research and publish data-based research and outreach products would be severely curtailed and we very much appreciate their hard work and the enthusiasm they bring to our work environment. Additionally, these positions are a great investment on several fronts. First, in addition to providing experience for the employees themselves, it is a great way to “spread the word” about how science can help in the management of rangeland resources; and given the broad geographic range of our temporary employees, that impact is substantial. Second, many of seasonal employees we’ve had over the years are now working professionals in rangeland research and/or management, and the relationships built while they were employed in Burns help give us connections to a much broader professional community. Lastly, seasonal employment at EOARC has resulted in a number of employees returning as either researchers (e.g., see ARS employee spotlight below) or graduate students.
Speaking of employees, we are currently advertising for a new ARS scientist for the Burns location. This position is actually my old position that was vacated when I took over as Research Leader. We’ve tried to hire it in the past but haven’t yet found the right candidate. When we do, this person will be working to bridge the science we do at the plant community scale with the larger scales that typify land management challenges like restoration, annual grasses, juniper, and wildfire. One of the strengths our unit has built over time is conducting small scale research to help understand the ecological mechanics of these problems, and using that understanding to develop management guidelines and approaches. This new position will focus on using the growing array of geospatial tools like the Rangeland Analysis Platform and other technologies to upsize that impact to larger scales. The job announcement closes at the end of this month so hopefully I’ll have more news for you in the next edition of our newsletter.
On the outreach front we (ARS, OSU, TNC and others…) just finished up a week-long series of riparian assessment and management workshops in Baker, Malheur, Lake, and Crook Counties. These workshops focused on our recently developed riparian assessment tool, which takes a page from our upland “Threat-Based Management in the Northern Great Basin” product and uses a straightforward, but impactful approach to demystify assessment and management of riparian resources. The workshops were well attended and we plan on joining forces with the University of Idaho to present these materials at a workshop at the upcoming annual meeting of the Society for Range Management in Boise this next February.
A big thank you to all who were able to attend the EOARC Advisory Meeting last month. Summer is not a great time to have an Advisory Meeting, when most of those involved are busy with ranching or field work. That said, with our last Advisory Meeting being canceled due to Covid, we didn’t want to wait for our normal February meeting date to catch up with you. Again, thank you for making the time and we look forward to meeting with you again this February.
In this edition of the EOARC Newsletter we are featuring Lauren Svejcar. Lauren is an ARS post-doctoral researcher working on a variety of rangeland restoration-related topics with Kirk Davies. Lauren brings with her a wealth of rangeland experience from all over the world and manages to stay busy outside of work with a wide variety of hobbies and interests.
As always, feel free to reach out to us at any time.
Research Leader, Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center, Burns
USDA-Agricultural Research Service
A Note from Garth: TNC
I expect that I am a new face or voice to some of you, but I have been supporting The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) partnership at EOARC for more than 15 years and am proud to be a founding member of the Advisory Committee. Over that time there have been many great projects and experiences. I am happy to say I am more excited than ever about the great work happening here. I am offering an update while we bridge between lead scientists for us at the EOARC.
I am pleased to introduce Cameron Duquette, the Nature Conservancy’s new Rangeland Scientist, who will be joining the team at EOARC at the end of the summer. Cameron grew up in Massachusetts and received an undergraduate degree in Wildlife & Conservation Biology from the University of New Hampshire. He went on to receive a MS in Natural Resource and Environmental Management from Oklahoma State University, and a PhD in Range Science from North Dakota State University. Cameron’s research efforts lie broadly in enhancing biodiversity, wildlife habitat, and ecosystem service delivery in working landscapes amidst a changing climate, with a keen interest in ecological state dynamics and heterogeneity. Cameron is excited to join the collaborative efforts at EOARC and eastern Oregon to combat sagebrush ecosystem loss and degradation. In his spare time, Cameron enjoys hiking, birding, botanizing, rock climbing, and playing music. Welcome Cameron, and thanks to all that helped in the recruiting and hiring process.
In a previous newsletter Andrew Olsen (who recently moved to Montana to join the Intermountain West Joint Venture) shared updates about innovative seed technologies that improve restoration success of landscapes impacted by wildfire and invasive annual grasses and new approaches to management and restoration for ranch-scale properties in Oregon’s sagebrush steppe. Both those efforts build from, and advance, research and science-based assessment tools collaboratively developed at EOARC. We are putting them to work on the new Trout Creek Ranch in southern Harney County, helping to inform livestock grazing and restoration efforts that build resilience for people and nature in that landscape.
Owen Baughman, our Restoration Scientist, and the large team working on Innovation Restoration (made up of TNC and ARS members) are working closely to expand the work and are entering a new phase to test and scale up seed enhancement prototype. To support this effort our field trials over the next two years will include sites across three states, linking plot scale research with real world application. The team has also been exploring germination-delaying treatments to increase successful seeding efforts, and new article outlines the results of several years of field testing this approach. More research on this technology is planned, as it continues to be a promising avenue for improved restoration results.
I look forward to sharing future updates, and having Cameron provide more details about our partnership projects in the next newsletter.
Eastern Oregon Conservation Director, The Nature Conservancy
A Note from Bryan: EOARC Union
Greetings from Union. Summer is here and it has been a busy time for faculty, staff and students at the Union Experiment Station. In between wrapping up spring fieldwork, haying, and turning out cattle at Hall Ranch and Starkey Experimental Forest and Range, we have been busy with a number of research, outreach and experiential learning efforts.
The field season is well underway for the Meadow Creek Riparian Restoration project in Starkey Experimental Forest and Range. This long-term collaborative effort has many partners, including the Pacific Northwest Research Station (USDA Forest Service), Grand Ronde Model Watershed, and many others. We are studying how elk, deer, and cattle affect recovery of riparian vegetation following restoration treatments, and are identifying ways to graze livestock while restoring riparian zones in support of salmonid recovery. We have 80 cow-calf pairs at Meadow Creek and have field crews monitoring a range of riparian vegetation and habitat metrics. This project provides great opportunities for students to gain experience in research, grazing systems and land stewardship. This summer, three students have joined us as undergraduate research technicians. Not only do they get to work with scientists from OSU and PNW, they also get to work closely with Josh Averett, a PhD student tracking vegetation and macroinvertebrate responses to restoration and herbivory.
We continue to collect data on culturally significant rangeland plant species in collaboration with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Wallowa Resources and the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP). In the spring, we established long-term monitoring plots on public, private and tribal rangelands throughout NE Oregon and measured the presence and abundance of 15 different ecological and culturally important species in the region. These plots will allow us to track the abundance of these species through time and better understand species’ responses to disturbance (e.g. wildfire, invasive species) and management treatments (prescribed fire). This summer we are revisiting plots and collecting additional biophysical characteristics of the sites. This was the first year of this long-term effort, and are excited to see how this project progresses!
We are also gearing up for new research at Hall Ranch to evaluate the use of virtual fences to manage riparian grazing along salmonid-bearing streams. Pretreatment data is being collecting this month and grazing will begin in August, so stay tuned! This a great example of the emerging collaborations between Burns and Union researchers. We expect collaborations like this to increase in the future, especially as we add faculty at Union. We have good news on that front as well- we have just started the process to hire a new Rangeland Scientist at the Union Experiment Station! These are exciting times at Union and will update you all as things develop.
Please do not hesitate to reach out at any time.
Assistant Director EOARC - Union
2022 EOARC Burns Advisory Committee
pictured left to right
Bryan Endress, Chad Boyd, Carol Lorenzen, David Bohnert, Brenda Smith, Jeff Mackay, Jeff Rose, Kristen Shelman
John O'Keeffe, Staci Simonich, Bill Dragt
Vanessa Schroeder - OSU
Vanessa Schroeder first joined the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center (EOARC) in 2013 working for The Nature Conservancy and USDA-ARS and has been in her current role as a Faculty Research Assistant for the Extension Service with Oregon State University (OSU) since 2016. She holds a master’s degree in Wildlife Science from OSU. Vanessa is a transplant from Texas but loves the high desert sagebrush ecosystem for its wide-open spaces and stark beauty. Vanessa’s position with OSU was developed to fill a specific gap in connecting sage-steppe research to stakeholders through the development of educational programming, management guides, and decision support tools.
Vanessa works to advance research and outreach programs that promote healthy sagebrush ecosystems that are more resistant and resilient and can support multiple land uses, rural communities and the enhancement of greater sage grouse and other sagebrush associated wildlife habitat. This means she spends a lot of time developing management guides and assessment tools that benefit wildlife and ranching. She has played an integral role in the Sage Share working group in the development of an upland management guide, complementary field guide and related trainings to assess ecosystem level threats and ultimately help support rangeland and grazing management in the northern Great Basin. This simple 6-step approach is currently used across large expanses of wildlife and sage-grouse habitat to assess and the threats of fire, invasive annual grasses, and juniper. However, wildlife in the sagebrush ecosystem require more than sagebrush to survive, relying on sparse, but essential riparian areas throughout the desert. Vanessa has been working with the Sage Share team to develop complementary resources for flowing systems, such as creeks, streams, and rivers, to help land manager’s assess threats to riparian areas and understand where to prioritize management. The team just wrapped up a webinar and set of field days across SE Oregon; if you are interested in the recorded webinar or other resources, please reach out.
Vanessa is currently involved in a variety of other research projects at the EOARC including 1) grazing season of use effects on sagebrush-obligate avian species and their habitat, 2) effects of juniper reduction on aspen-dominated habitats and associated wildlife, and 3) weather and grazing effects on predator-prey population dynamics. Other recent and ongoing outreach efforts include co-authoring a grass identification guide for common upland species, and helping to spear-head the editing and coordination for a new Rangelands Special Issue: Changing with the range: Striving for ecosystem resilience in the age of invasive annual grasses. The collection of peer-reviewed articles is an urgent call to action for a coordinated, concerted effort to protect and grow these intact areas of rangeland.
Vanessa is part of the OSU Extension Sagebrush Habitat Team. You can follow our work on our website, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. Alternatively, you can always reach out directly to Vanessa anytime via email or at (541) 573-8936.
Lauren Svejcar - ARS
Field Sampling with Argentinian and
NMSU crew in the Caldenal woodlands
of Central Argentina.
Setting up solid matrix priming
studies at the Northern Great
Basin Experimental Range
near Riley, OR (left, Vanessa
Schroeder; right, Jesse Svejcar).
A few days later, we were
attacked by a sage grouse.
Lauren Svejcar returned to EOARC in October 2020 for a USDA-ARS post-doctoral researcher position with Kirk Davies. The year 2020 marked 20 years that Lauren and Kirk have worked together at EOARC: in 2000 Lauren was hired as a high school student summer technician with Kirk and Jay Kerby working for Jon Bates on sagebrush steppe plant communities. Lauren has worked and lived in many places around the world, but has maintained a strong working relationship with the EOARC and sagebrush steppe research over the last 20 years.
After receiving a few undergraduate degrees from the University of Idaho in 2007 (Landscape Architecture, Horticulture, Spanish Literature and History), Lauren worked for Roger Sheley (EOARC) conducting invasive species management studies, specifically with cheatgrass and medusahead. This work led to a placement with CABI Switzerland doing biocontrol work on whitetop and purple loosestrife, two species that are invasive in the western US. Following research in Switzerland, Lauren pursued a Masters at New Mexico State University with Drs Brandon Bestelmeyer, Curtis Monger and Andres Cibils and teams at the Jornada Experimental Range, Universidad Nacional de La Pampa (Argentina) and INTA (Argentinian equivalent of USDA) working on landscape-level ecological themes (Argentina: Caldenal Ecological Site Descriptions and classification, and New Mexico: patch size and plant reproduction as indicators of critical thresholds and small mammal impacts on grass recovery along an ecological gradient).
In 2014, Lauren returned to Burns to work with Matthew Madsen developing seed enhancement technologies, specifically working on solid matrix priming, and then headed the seed enhancement technology lab leading a special issue in Plant Ecology that highlights the work of EOARC in the global context of dryland restoration and created a guide for seed enhancement technology development. Lauren moved to Perth, Western Australia in 2016 to test foundational concepts of species coexistence in the context of ecological restoration in Banksia woodlands for her PhD with Drs Rachel Standish, Ben Miller, Jason Stevens and Joe Fontaine and is continuing this theme in her post-doc position. Specifically, she is looking at how foundational ecological information may be applied to improve restoration practice and the development of seed enhancement technologies across the western US, with a specific emphasis on sagebrush steppe species. In addition to working closely with the EOARC team and local producers, Lauren also works with research collaborators and producers in Oregon, Utah, Nevada, California and Arizona as well as continuing international collaborations.
One of four field experiments at the Gaskell
sand mine in Western Australia. This site
had 175 plant species and lots of fauna.
The Central Oregon 99s B-25 team (Lauren is 2nd from
left) at the Oregon International Airshow in Hillsboro,
OR. The Erickson’s Air Museum B-25 J Mitchell was made
in 1945 and is one of approximately 45 that still fly
(9,816 were produced in total).
Outside of work, Lauren has a lot of hobbies such as wood working, gardening, ceramics, photography, dancing, soccer, hockey, diving and flying airplanes. Lauren is currently working on a private pilot’s license and has been able to attend airshows crewing with Erickson’s Air Museum in a B-25 and B-17 bomber (the team does static displays teaching STEM projects like safety wiring and riveting). Lauren has also independently (outside of work hours) been part of a major global initiative, the UN International Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists (IYRP), to increase appreciation for rangelands and pastoralists who are undervalued in many regions around the world. She is an active member of the IYRP Global and North American communications teams working to highlight the amazing work of rangeland professionals and producers around the world. No matter where she goes, Burns and the sagebrush steppe will always be home. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Arthur (Skip) Nyman - EOARC Burns
I was born in Belle Fourche, SD. Most of my years growing up were spent in Wyoming and Montana. In 1981, my family moved to Harney County where I graduated from Crane High School. I attended Montana State University for two years. I was married in Burns in 1988 to Dawna Sue (Opie) Nyman. We raised three children in Crane; our daughter Brooke (married to Travis Hatley), and our two sons Nic, and Quinton. We were blessed with our first grandchild, Hardy Donald Hatley born in April 2022. I worked with my family at Norman Ranches South of Crane for 16 years where we managed 5800 mother Cows and 3600 ewes on 458,000 acres of deeded and state land. I began working here at EOARC-Burns in 1998. My family enjoys rodeo, team roping, golf, skiing, gardening, and being outdoors.
Jake Ricker- EOARC Union
Jake Ricker is our ranch manager at Eastern Oregon Ag Research Center in Union. Jake is a graduate of OSU and began working for the Union Station in 2019. He manages 200 head of mother cows year round, along with overseeing 2000 acres at the Hall Ranch just outside of Union, grazing cattle on 5000 acres in the Starkey Experimental Forest and managing 600 acres at the Union Experimental Station
When he is away from the Station he and his wife, Lisa, raise cattle on their family ranch and enjoy various outdoor activities. They have three girls: Ashley, who is currently working and starting her own family in Washington, Emma will be a freshman at OSU/EOU in LaGrande, Oregon this fall and Kimber will be a freshman at Union High School.
Managing Invasive Annual Grasses, Annually: A Case for More Case Studies
Schroeder, Vanessa M., D.D. Johnson, R.C. O’Connor, C.G. Crouch, W.J. Dragt, H.E. Quicke,
L.F. Silva, D.J. Wood
Early Succession Following Prescribed Fire in Low Sagebrush
(Artemisia arbuscula var. arbuscula) Steppe
Bates, Jon D., K.W. Davies
What’s Hot and What’s Not – Identifying Publication Trends in Insect Ecology
Andrew, Nigel R., M.J. Evans, L. Svejcar, K. Prendegast, L. Mata, H. Gibb, M.J. Stone, P.S. Barton
Using Postfire Spatial Variability to Improve Restoration Success with Seeded Bitterbrush
Davies, K.W., J.D. Bates, C.S. Boyd, L. Svejcar
Managing for Resilient Sagebrush Plant Communities in the Modern Era:
We’re Not in 1850 Anymore
Boyd, Chad S.
Management and Environmental Factors Associated with Simulated Restoration Seeding Barriers in Sagebrush Steppe
Copeland, Stella M., J.B. Bradford, S.P. Hardegree, D.R. Schlaepfer, K.J. Badik
Ratcheting up Resilience in the Northern Great Basin
Johnson, Dustin, C.S. Boyd, R.C. O’Connor, D. Smith
Grazing Management to Reduce Wildfire Risk in Invasive Annual Grass Prone Sagebrush Communities
Davies, Kirk W., K. Wollstein, B. Dragt, C. O’Connor
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.