A Note from Dave:
This winter has brought needed precipitation and colder temperatures to eastern Oregon. Hopefully, the weather stays favorable and we will have full waterholes and adequate irrigation for much needed hay and rangeland forage production this spring and summer – without the grasshoppers!!!
EOARC faculty, along with numerous Animal and Rangeland Sciences Department and OSU Extension faculty, attended and participated in the recent Oregon Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) meeting in Pendleton. It was an excellent meeting and we were able to provide some educational events and share some research that has been conducted at the Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center. Also, we provided the Oregon Beef Council (OBC) with the 2022 OBC Research Report which provided updates and current status of the OBC research projects funded by checkoff dollars. This report, and all the prior reports, can be found here.
I want to provide a shout-out to Juliana Ranches, OSU Beef Extension Specialist, who has had an exciting and productive fall and winter. She held the second annual RancHER symposium November 29 to December 1. This program highlights women in agriculture with emphasis in beef production and management. This year’s speakers were from the University of California, University of Idaho, Texas A&M, Oregon (J3L Meat, LLC), and Mississippi State University. It was an excellent program and recording of the talks can be found by clicking here. In addition, Juliana recently received notification that she and colleagues received a USDA AFRI Critical Agricultural Research and Extension award for almost $300,000. The title of the project is “Wildfires and Smoke Exposure: Impacts on Livestock Health and Performance and Producers’ Perceptions and Sentiments”. We congratulate Juliana for leading this project and getting it funded!!
In Chad’s note, he provided some excellent background concerning the carbon work that is being led by Rory O’Connor with the USDA-ARS here at EOARC. Juliana Ranches and I are collaborating with him to add an animal component to the study. As a group, we are planning to evaluate seasonal carbon flux on rangelands with and without grazing. This information will be used to design and conduct further research in hopes of providing options and tools for managers of livestock and rangelands who are interested in carbon conservation and more efficient beef production.
Last, I want to thank Matt McElligott for agreeing to be our “Stakeholder Spotlight” for this issue. He has been, and is, a strong voice in natural resource management in the region, state, and U.S. Matt is active in the OCA, the National and Oregon Public Lands Council, and he is a valued member of the EOARC Union 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) and she will work with us to try get all requests addressed.
Director, Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center (Burns and Union Stations)
Oregon State University
A Note from Chad:
Greetings from Burns! We must be living right because we are finally getting a good snow year. Now all we need is for temps to stay low enough for long enough for a timely spring runoff.
With this addition of the newsletter I wanted to touch on the topic of rangeland carbon. Last month at the Oregon Cattleman’s Association meeting, one of the more popular sessions I attended was the workshop on “Revenue Opportunities through Carbon Credits.” While I am far from an expert on carbon markets and marketing, I do want to share some of the work that Burns ARS is currently engaged in regarding rangeland carbon and how that work could potentially affect carbon management at larger scales.
Most methods of measuring carbon on rangelands focus on point-in-time estimates of carbon within a generalized category of vegetation (e.g., “rangeland” vegetation). This is problematic on several fronts. First, there’s no such thing as generalized rangeland vegetation…it varies both across rangelands, as well as at a given point over time. Second, one of the reasons that vegetation changes over time is disturbances, such as fire, that can dramatically alter the amount of carbon being taken up by plants at a given site.
To help make sense of carbon in rangeland environments, one of our scientists, Dr. Rory O’Connor, has been developing a tool he refers to as the “Carbon Security Index”, or CSI for short. CSI accounts for the dynamic nature of carbon in the sagebrush steppe by taking into consideration current vegetation present at a site, how well that vegetation would recover following disturbances such as fire, and the likelihood of fire. Put another way, the CSI score is an index for how much carbon is at a site now, how likely that carbon is it to stay there in a fire-prone environment, and if the site is disturbed, how likely/quickly will the vegetation/carbon return to pre-disturbance conditions.
Thus, CSI scores can be used to quickly gauge and rank the relative potential of sites for carbon conservation activities across complex rangeland landscapes. We think this is important for a couple of reasons. First, in a world where rangeland carbon conservation is of both growing interest and concern, the CSI cuts through the clutter of a topic where there are lots of opinions but very little data to guide management activities. Second, these days there are lots of values associated with rangelands and their management; everything from managing for forage production to sage-grouse habitat, fire-resilient plant communities, etc. Rory is finding that high CSI values are typically associated with intact sagebrush/bunchgrass plant communities. Couple that with the fact that CSI incorporates both disturbance likelihood and response to disturbance, and it becomes clear that managing for CSI has the potential to positively impact multiple rangeland values while simplifying the management planning process.
This week we are featuring Matt McElligott in our newsletter spotlight. Matt is both a regional and national leader in rangeland agriculture. He has been a valuable supporter of EOARC research and has been a huge help in getting EOARC research plugged into both management and policy networks at the state and national scales. Matt, we appreciate what you do and are honored to have you as a friend of EOARC.
As always, feel free to reach out to me at any time and thank you all for your support of EOARC.
Research Leader, Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center, Burns
USDA-Agricultural Research Service
A Note from Cameron: TNC
Hello from Burns! Both the excellent snowpack and the many projects on the horizon are giving me a lot to look forward to this upcoming spring. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) continues its longstanding collaboration with OSU and ARS staff at the EOARC to address important issues in the management of Oregon’s rangelands. I’d like to share a few of our recent goings-on, as well as some exciting upcoming projects.
But first, TNC is hiring! We currently have three positions open, including a 2-3 year full time lead technician and two temporary full time (Spring 2023 to late Fall 2023) technicians. These positions will support the Conservancy's multi-state Sagebrush Sea Program and Innovative Restoration strategy by producing and testing enhanced seed materials in the lab and field, which are designed to increase the success of native perennial vegetation restoration in wildlands across the West prone to invasion by exotic weeds. Full job descriptions and directions for applying can be found at careers.nature.org (Innovative Restoration Field Technician Job ID- www.linkedin.com/jobs/view/3441096982; Innovative Restoration Lead Technician- www.linkedin.com/jobs/view/3441099623). Come join us!
With my housekeeping activities out of the way, next I want to touch on the subject of virtual fencing. Virtual fencing represents a promising new tool for range management. With the ability to exhibit fine-scale control over cattle movements without the addition of costly traditional fence, virtual fence represents a new avenue for the management of invasive annual grasses, wildfire risk management, forage banking, and improved riparian management. TNC has an interest in demonstrating the utility of virtual fence technology for promoting flexibility, accountability, and positive economic outcomes in large working landscapes. We believe that Eastern Oregon represents the ideal setting to conduct this work by allowing us to benefit from the expertise of our EOARC partners.
Finally, we will be headed to Boise for the 2023 Society for Range Management Annual Meeting. Along with a long list of collaborators, Julie Larson, Lauren Svejcar, and myself are proud to be hosting the Diversity and Inclusion Committee workshop. We are fortunate to have three impressive speakers lined up to discuss issues in community building and advocacy in range science, global rangeland sustainability, and understanding tribal contributions to rangeland knowledge and productive capacity. Dr. Caley Gasch will be joining us from the University of Alaska, along with Dr. Jeff Herrick from Jornada ARS and Dr. Robert A. Washington-Allen from the University of Nevada, Reno. Our session will run on Monday, February 13 from 10-11:30am in Room 420 B, check us out!
I’m looking forward to kicking off the new year and as always, please reach out if there’s anything I can do for you.
Please feel free to reach out to email@example.com with any questions!
The Nature Conservancy
A Note from Bryan: EOARC Union
Hello from Union! Winter has been moving quickly and it is hard to believe spring is on its way. The first calves at the Station have dropped and we are in full swing preparing for an active field season. The Station has been a busy place this winter as we continue to build programs and new outreach and research. In partnership with OSU Extension, we hosted a calving school for producers in Wallowa, Union, and Baker Counties, as well as for students from Eastern Oregon University. A big thanks to Chuck Estill, Juliana Ranches, Pete Schreder, and Will Price for putting together a fantastic workshop. We also had a chance to visit with several local FFA and 4H chapters and talk about careers in agriculture, animal nutrition, and more. As the station grows, we look forward to expanding our outreach efforts.
We continue to work on adding personnel at the Station and are in the process of filling two open positions- a Biological Sciences Research Technician position as well as a tenure-track Rangeland Scientist position. Filling these positions will greatly strengthen our capacity. These hires, combined with ongoing infrastructure improvements (e.g., the native plant propagation and restoration lab) make for exciting times in Union.
This year will be an active one for our research program as well. Collaborative research continues on riparian restoration and grazing management, understory responses to fuels reduction treatments, and the ecology and management of rangeland forbs of cultural significance to tribes in the region. We also are in the initial stage of planning new research on mule deer forage landscapes and habitat management in collaboration with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. These efforts will certainly keep us busy. 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,
Assistant Director EOARC - Union
Stakeholder Spotlight: Matt McElligott
I am Matt McElligott and, like many ranchers, I have family ties to agriculture that go back well over a century. Starting out in Kansas, my family began ranching in the 1800s, eventually homesteading in Ione, Oregon where the family ranch still operates in the McElligott name through my cousins. I represent the fifth generation of a shared family heritage, owning and operating ranches in North Powder and Long Creek, Oregon.
I have always advocated to be involved in the industry of agriculture, foremost ranching. Industry issues must be spearheaded by those closely associated to them, not bureaucrats in Salem or Washington DC. I am currently the President Elect for the Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, the Chairman of the OCA Public Lands Committee, on the Board of the Public Lands Committee representing Oregon, Chairman of the Grazing Committee, and member of the EOARC advisory board, Union Station.
Many ranchers in Oregon and abroad don’t realize the great resource we have in EOARC, as their work spans from working on ESA issues with the Sage Grouse and its interaction with grazing cattle, modeling fire behavior and predicting where next year’s high fire probability areas may be, using wireless fencing, or as the world knows it, virtual fencing to design cutting edge systems and technology on a large, landscape scale to hold and move livestock in a given area without wire and post fences, to working on control and eradication of annual invasive grasses like cheat grass, Ventenata, and Medusa Head to restore rangeland to the native species for fire reduction and improved rangeland health.
Invasive annual grasses are a big threat to our native rangelands. I have seen carrying capacity reduced by upwards of 20% on my own ranch. These annual grasses, in time, choke out the perennial native grasses. I knew I had to do something so EOARC was the place to turn for reliable, science-based, solutions. Currently I have two different test plots on my ranch with EOARC studying control of Medusa and Ventenata with herbicides. This partnership led to larger field trials with Envu.
Since 2019 I have been part of an initial field trial with Envu, formally Bayer Agri-Science, to test invasive grass control programs, implementing a combination of chemical applications, grazing, and seeding to rehabilitate infested rangelands. The program focuses on testing the product Rejuvra® and utilizes technologies like range-view satellite imagery and rainfall monitoring to assist in monitoring spread, treatment effectiveness, and reseeding success. A large part of the pilot program includes developing treatment plans specific to the percent biomass of invasive grasses on each plot or rangeland.
EOARC in Union, in cooperation with Oregon State University, is the only research facility that I am aware of that can study the interaction of grazing livestock and anadromous fish. From the upper reaches of the Blue Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. From Catherine Creek in Union to the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport. Work done in this arena will help ward off biased-based litigation with factual based scientific data.
The rebuilding of Union Station, and the continued work in Burns, will bring real world science-based solutions to the grazing livestock industry in Oregon and beyond. All ranchers need to be aware of and support the work done at EOARC. The people that work there are the “Silent Soldiers” of our industry.
EOARC Upcoming Events
Cattle AI School March 22-24, 2023
Bird Festival Ranch Tour April 15, 2023
College Range Camp "Science in the Sagebrush Steppe” April 21-23, 2023
CONGRATULATIONS TO DR. PATRICIA L. KENNEDY, RECIPIENT OF THE 2022 HAMERSTROM AWARD
Fran and Frederick Hamerstrom are icons in the field of raptor ecology. Through their long-term ecological studies, the scientific community gained an appreciation for predators and a greater understanding of raptor natural history and ecology. Between them, during their lifetime of research they authored and co-authored over 240 scientific papers and reviews. The also had a revolving door of field assistants, affectionately known as the Gabboons, and mentored countless budding raptor biologists.
The Fran and Frederick Hamerstrom Award recognizes an individual who has contributed significantly to the understanding of raptor ecology and natural history, and at the 2022 conference in Fort Lauderdale, the Raptor Research Foundation bestowed this prestigious award to Dr. Patricia L. Kennedy.
Dr. Kennedy’s record of scientific achievement related to raptor ecology and natural history is exemplary. With students and collaborators as co-authors, Dr. Kennedy has produced well over 100 contributions to the ecological literature. These include more than 70 peer-reviewed papers, a substantial portion of which deal with raptor ecology. In addition to contributed publications in peer-reviewed journals, she has authored many invited papers in symposia proceedings, journals, and as book chapters, all having a strong focus on raptor ecology.
Dr. Kennedy is highly regarded for her work on Northern Goshawks in the U.S. Southwest, the western Great Lakes region, the Pacific Northwest, and the isolated population in the Black Hills, and that work has informed goshawk conservation broadly in North America. In addition, Dr. Kennedy was part of the team that wrote Management recommendations for the Northern Goshawk in the southwestern United States, a highly influential document incorporating ecology of Northern Goshawks into conservation in the U.S. Southwest at the behest of the U.S. Forest Service.
She has also worked with grassland raptor communities in western North America, and arctic raptors in Alaska. Some of her contributions include evaluating methods to detect and study raptors, providing insight into the ecology and natural history of a suite of raptor species, and basing raptor conservation on science.
Dr. David E. Andersen, who helped create the Hamerstrom Award and chaired the first committee back in 1991, had this to say, “Especially relevant to the Hamerstrom Award, Dr. Kennedy has been an exemplary role model and mentor for graduate students, postdocs, and early career professionals, and particularly for early career female scientists. Fran Hamerstrom was the only female graduate student of Aldo Leopold, and she successfully navigated an era when few women were part of the emerging profession of wildlife management. Fran was a pioneer in the profession. Dr. Kennedy, in her roles as advisor to graduate students and postdocs, and in her teaching to undergraduate and graduate students at multiple academic institutions, has continued in the wake of Fran Hamerstrom in advancing diversity and inclusivity in the raptor research community.”
In her academic capacity at multiple institutions, Dr. Kennedy has advanced the science around raptor ecology and natural history while being an influential mentor and role model, and that will be an enduring legacy.
Effects of a Decade of Grazing Exclusion on Three Wyoming Big Sagebrush Community Types
Thomas, Tyler W., K.W. Davies, R. Mata-Gonzalez, L.N. Svejcar, D. Clenet
Influence of Weather on Production Dynamics in Wyoming Big Sagebrush Steppe Across Plant Associations
Copeland, Stella M., K.W. Davies, S.P. Hardegree, C.A. Moffet, J.D. Bates
Improving Rangeland Climate Services for Ranchers and Pastoralists with Social Science
Wardropper, Chloe B., J.P. Angerer, M. Burnham, K. Wollstein et al.
Outcome-Based Approaches for Managing Wildfire Risk: Institutional Interactions and Implementation Within the “Gray Zone”
Wollstein, Katherine, C.B. Wardropper, D.R. Becker
Minimize the Bad Days: Wildland Fire Response and Suppresion Success
Wollstein, Katherine, C. O’Connor, J. Gear, R. Hoagland
Toward Integrated Fire Management to Promote Ecosystem Resilience
Wollstein, Katherine, M.K. Creutzburg, C. Dunn, D.D. Johnson, C. O’Connor, C.S. Boyd
Strategic Partnerships to Leverage Small Wins for Fine Fuels Management
Arispe, Sergio A., D.D. Johnson, K. Wollstein, A. Hulet, K.S. Jensen, B.W. Schultz et at.
Integrating Rangeland Fire Planning and Management: The Scales, Actors, and Processes
Wollstein, Katherine, D.D. Johnson
Estimates of Fine Fuel Litter Biomass in the Northern Great Basin Reveal Increases During Short Fire-Free Intervals Associated with Invasive Annual Grasses
Fernández-Guisuraga, José Manuel, C.S. Boyd, K.W. Davies, D.D. Johnson, K. Wollstein et al.
Plant Recruitment in Drylands Varies by Site, Year, and Seeding Technique
Svejcar, Lauren N., J.D. Kerby, T.J. Svejcar, B. Mackey, C.S. Boyd, O.W. Baughman, M.D. Madsen, K.W. Davies
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.