A Note from Dave:
Here in Burns it doesn’t seem like summer lasted very long as the cooler temperatures and shorter days are already here. We were fortunate this year that we had excellent winter and spring precipitation which allowed EOARC to put up a good crop of meadow hay that will be sufficient to cover this year’s winter feeding and should allow a little carryover for next year!
EOARC and our faculty and staff have remained very active over the summer. Some highlights of activities include helping sponsor and participate in the 2023 Eastern Oregon Economic Summit that was hosted by the Eastern Oregon Women’s Coalition, sponsoring an EOARC booth at the Harney County Fair and hosting an ice cream social for all the youth exhibiters, hosting visits to EOARC Union and Burns by OSU President Jayathi Murthy and College of Agricultural Sciences Dean Staci Simonich, sponsoring a heifer as part of the Harney County Stockgrowers Youth Heifer Placement Program which helps prepare and train youth in raising and managing a beef breeding project – we look forward to working with Ms. Cara Goss-Bodily who was selected as the recipient of a heifer from EOARC Burns, and providing livestock hauling equipment for a Beef Quality Assurance Stockmanship & Stewardship event hosted by OSU Extension in Ontario, OR.
I am excited to provide a staffing update for EOARC. Here in Burns, we have hired a Science Communications/Technology Specialist, Michael Stauder, that will provide services for both the Union and Burns stations. This position is initially funded for 2 years by grant funds obtained from OSU, USDA-ARS, and The Nature Conservancy staff and will generate outreach videos, media, and other materials for use by our stakeholders. You can see more about Michael later in the newsletter. Also, Bryan Endress, in his EOARC Union update, shares some exciting news about a rangeland scientist that will start at EOARC Union on Oct. 30.
The Stakeholder Spotlight for this issue is Jack Southworth who runs a cow-calf-yearling operation in the high-desert rangelands and dry forests around Seneca, Oregon. In addition, Jack is a great supporter of EOARC, a valued member of the EOARC Burns Advisory Committee, and is active in a number of community organizations and collaboratives associated with natural resource management. A recent Pacific Northwest Extension publication, “PNW731 Building a Tradition of Adaptive Rangeland Management: Jack Southworth” and video provide an excellent overview of Southworth Brothers Ranch and the guiding principles of his operation.
Lastly, I am excited to share that EOARC Burns is increasing our office capacity with a little over 1,400 square foot building addition that will allow for growth and housing of technicians, graduate students, post-doctoral scholars, and visiting scientists. Without this building we are currently at capacity at EOARC Burns. This facility is a joint project between OSU and the USDA-Agricultural Research Service.
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 get all requests addressed.
Director, Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center (Burns and Union Stations)
Oregon State University
A Note from Chad:
Greetings from Burns and I hope you had a productive summer. Our summer here at EOARC has been very active and I thought I’d take this opportunity to highlight some of our activities since the last EOARC newsletter.
Peter Vadas will be visiting later this week to hear about EOARC research activities and hopefully spend some time in the field. Peter is the National Program Leader for the Agricultural Research Service’s Range, Forages, and Pastures program; one of two national programs represented here in Burns. Also this week, David and I will be meeting with the Oregon Water Resources Department when they visit Harney County and will give a presentation about how our collective research can help facilitate water management planning.
Several of us from EOARC will be participating in/presenting at the annual meeting of the SageCon Partnership in Lakeview. For those unfamiliar with SageCon, it was started as a group focused on sage-grouse conservation in the early 2000’s and its’ mission is to advance policies and actions that reduce threats to sage-grouse and Oregon’s sagebrush ecosystem as well as promote rural community and economic health. Thanks to EOARC’s Vanessa Schroeder for helping organize this year’s meeting. Speaking of sage-grouse, the Oregon sage-grouse plan (State, not Federal) is in the initial stages of plan revision and EOARC is playing a science advisory role in that process.
Thanks to ARS scientist Rory O’Connor, who served as a planning co-coordinator for this year’s Pacific Northwest Section of the Society for Range Management summer meeting, which was held here in Burns. Rory and myself also participated in the annual meeting of the Public Lands Council, which was held in Pendleton, Oregon.
In July, EOARC teamed up with US Fish and Wildlife Service and The Nature Conservancy partners to host a riparian assessment workshop in Baker County. The workshop was based on a management guide we developed that can be used to quickly assess riparian condition and determine management needs, and the relative priority of those needs within large landscapes. We also participated in the Harney County Wildfire Collaborative summer field trip where we discussed how to better manage pre-fire fuels to enable successful suppression efforts. Those discussions have led to a successful Joint Fire Sciences Program grant that we have with partners that will focus on fuel monitoring methods and technologies that help us to more seamlessly determine fuels management needs and strategies in large rangeland landscapes.
This addition of the EOARC newsletter employee spotlight features Erik Hamerlynck. Erik is a talented plant physiologist who has the rare ability to think about how plant physiology can inform management and his work with the ARS plant breeding program in Logan, Utah is helping to reimagine how we select successful rangeland perennial grass cultivars. Also featured in this newsletter is Michael Stauder. Michael is a seriously skilled videographer, but he is also a great communicator and has a strong science background. That combination allows him to not just produce videos, but to produce videos that target key science challenges in a manner that is impactful to the intended audience.
Lastly, a big thank you to our featured stakeholder (below) Jack Southworth for your support of EOARC over the years. Jack has been an important member of the EOARC advisory group and I always appreciate his insightful assessments of our research program. Jack is also a talented facilitator and as such has played an important role in regional collaborative management efforts. Thank you, Jack!
As always, hats off to Shellie for her efforts in organizing the newsletter.
Please feel free to reach out to me any time we can be of help.
Research Leader, Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center, Burns
USDA-Agricultural Research Service
A Note from Cameron:
Though I’m not the biggest fan of pumpkin spice, I spend most of the year looking forward to fall for the crisp mornings and recreational opportunities it provides. In the sagebrush restoration world, fall is often planting season, and our crew is hard at work installing studies for the coming year. After an incredible amount of planning and coordination, we are preparing to install our herbicide protection seed technology demo in the coming weeks. After months of tinkering, our team has found that with slight adjustments to a rangeland seed drill, it is possible to spread carbon coated seed at seeding rates that are standard in rangeland restoration activities without causing additional damage to seeds and coatings. Without these innovations, several tractor passes would be needed to apply necessary rates of coated seeds, seriously impeding the feasibility and scalability of herbicide protection technology in a realistic restoration context.
Effective use of carbon coatings to establish native perennial bunchgrasses in annual-invaded rangelands requires knowledge of best practices, as well as knowledge of benefits to restoration outcomes on a project basis. This knowledge will be hard-won and requires many scaled-up trials in a variety of landscape contexts. To further this learning process, we are pleased to announce that we have received funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to conduct a series of large-scale demonstrations of our carbon seed coatings. These demos will help us make the process more efficient and showcase both the benefits and nuances of these technologies.
Last month I was able to return to Colorado once again, this time to chat with producers and BLM range cons on the use of virtual fence on public lands. As virtual fence technology rapidly increases in popularity, best practices are needed for funding, incentivization, and opportunities for improved grazing management. In partnership with OSU, we hope to explore models for employing virtual fence on public rangelands and distill recommendations for the benefit of producers and agency managers.
That’s all for now, and as always, please don’t hesitate to reach out if there’s anything I can do for you.
Rangeland Scientist, The Nature Conservancy
A Note from Bryan:
Greetings from Union. It is hard to believe fall is already here! This is a transition time for the Station as we wrap up fieldwork, bring cows home from summer range, prepare for winter, and more.
This has been a busy summer here at the Union Station. On the research front, faculty and staff have engaged on a number of applied research and outreach projects including collaborative work with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Nez Perce Tribe, and others to establish long-term rangeland monitoring plots for culturally significant First Foods plants. We are also just wrapping up another season evaluating grazing systems designed to be compatible with riparian restoration along salmonid-bearing streams at Starkey Experimental Forest and Range. The project has been ongoing since 2012 in collaboration with the Pacific Northwest Research Station, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and many others. This year we began exploring the use of virtual fence technology in the rugged, forested landscapes of the northern Blue Mountains. We are currently planning the next 10 years of research related to rangeland and forest management, grazing, salmonids and are excited to develop new research aimed at improving our understanding and management of the complex landscapes of the region.
Through these (and other) projects, we welcomed five undergraduate research technicians this summer to assist with the work and provide opportunities for students to gain vital hands-on experience. Two students worked closely with our tribal and non-profit partners (Wallowa Resources) on monitoring First Foods, while three students worked with Josh Averett (PhD student in Rangeland Ecology and Management) collecting instream and vegetation data along Meadow Creek in Starkey.
In September, we also successfully completed the second year of a field-based experiential learning course in collaboration with the OSU Agriculture and Natural Resource Program at Eastern Oregon University and the Department of Animal and Rangeland Sciences. A total of 13 students from Corvallis, La Grande, and beyond spent the week at Zumwalt Prairie Preserve completing an upper-division course on vegetation monitoring and analysis. During the week, students learned and implemented a variety of field sampling techniques and designs in addition to approaches to data analysis and interpretation. We certainly extend our thanks and gratitude to The Nature Conservancy and partners who not only hosted the class, but also took time to share their knowledge, experience, and expertise with students- a special thanks to Jeff Fields, Mike Hale, and Jason Dingeldein!
In the coming months, Union will be growing both in terms of personnel and facilities. In October, construction of the Native Plant Propagation Lab begins, and the facility should be fully operational by late spring of 2024. We are also really excited to welcome Dr. Trace Martyn, a new tenure-track Rangeland Sciences faculty member, to the station in October. In addition to developing a research program in rangeland ecology and management, she will also teach undergraduate and graduate level Rangeland Sciences courses. We are so happy she is joining the team and we will share more about her research in future newsletters.
Please do not hesitate to reach out at any time,
Assistant Director EOARC - Union
Stakeholder Spotlight: Jack Southworth
For a long time, the results of research done at the Eastern Oregon Ag Research Center have played an important role here on our ranch near Seneca.
In the 1950’s my dad, Bill Southworth, went to a Field Day at the Section Five research center south of Burns and learned that sixty pounds of ammonium sulfate added to hay meadows in the fall could add nearly a half ton of added production to his hay meadows the next summer. Back in the days when bringing in purchased hay was difficult, finding a way to increase the production on his own land was a godsend.
My dad also learned about how Crested Wheatgrass, a species of grass brought in from the steppes of Mongolia and Siberia, could help increase production on his rangelands. He quickly learned that by reseeding with crested wheatgrass and alfalfa he could almost double the long term productivity of his rangeland.
In the 1960’s, we learned about the ‘free lunch’ of hybrid vigor in crossbreeding cattle and added Angus and Shorthorn to our primarily Hereford cow herd making a three-breed rotational cross. The result was easier calving and more productive and longer-lived cows.
In 1978, my wife Teresa and I took over management of the ranch and continued to learn from the research center. We learned about how to utilize grass seed straw from the Willamette Valley as a winter feed supplement and how much alfalfa to add to meet the nutrient requirements of our cows in wintertime.
Through EOARC we have also utilized information provided by Dr. Dave Bohnert and Dr. Julianna Ranches on how to do a good job of AI synchronization, utilize the Across Breed EPD calculator to compare potential AI sires and, in terms of mineral supplementation, what minerals our cattle actually required and what times of year they required them.
What I see as a truly significant leap in the quality of information we are receiving from EOARC now and in the future is the understanding of the principles behind good land management. My dad learning about fertilizing his meadows was significant, but what he should have been asking was how to improve the productivity of his meadows without adding a purchased input.
EOARC is no longer providing us ‘silver bullets’ because, truthfully, there aren’t any. What it is providing us is a better understanding of how our ecosystems function and how to manage those ecosystems for the long term benefit of our families, communities, livestock and land.
- In the News -
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October 31st, November 1st and 2nd 2023 at 4:00 pm PT
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Researcher Juliana Ranches has been studying the impact of wildfires on cattle at Oregon State University for years. “When we think about wildfires, we think of the direct impact like losing your property and losing your animals,” she said. “...
A new research project by Oregon State University and the U.S. Department of Agriculture explores the unique combination of global positioning satellites, mobile cell towers, and educated cattle wearing shock collars. The study aims to...
Researchers looking for ways to manage wildfires before they start used the collars on 39 cows on Oregon State University’s experimental pasture in southeastern Oregon. The state has been ...
The use of virtual fencing to manage cattle grazing on sagebrush rangelands has the potential to create fuel breaks needed to help fight wildfires, a recent Oregon State University and U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research...
Erik Hamerlynck - ARS
Erik came on board at EOARC 10 (!) years ago from the USDA-ARS Southwest Watershed Research in Tucson, Arizona. Prior to joining ARS in 2007, he was an assistant professor of biology at Rutgers University, New Jersey, after holding a post-doctoral scholar position at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the job that cemented his enthusiasm and fascination with aridland ecosystems, after he received his Ph.D. in biology at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. He describes himself in his C.V. as “A broadly trained plant physiological ecologist, with interests in relating leaf- and whole-plant level eco-physiological environmental responses to species distribution, community structure, and ecosystem function.”, which really means he likes to work in the field with a large array of instruments that go “beep”. He has published research on the environmental responses of plants in such contrasting systems as the alpine/subalpine forest, eastern deciduous hardwood forest, salt marshes, tallgrass prairie, central European bunchgrass steppe, but most especially in North American desert systems. Since coming to EOARC, Erik has focused on the photosynthetic characteristics of sagebrush steppe bunchgrasses, specifically on how photosynthesis in grass flowers supports seed production and energetic provisioning. He finds this research especially rewarding because it not only allows him to delve deeply into the basic ecology of these grasses, but also can be applied to plant material selection and development of native bunchgrasses that are critical to successful restoration of sagebrush steppe rangelands degraded by invasive annual grasses and wildland fire.
As a “higher-education brat”, Erik grew up in locations across the Western United States and Canada. He was born in Eugene, Oregon, and as a kid lived in Calgary, Alberta, Missoula and Helena, Montana, places that nurtured his love of the outdoors and prepared him for a five-year stint as a ski bum in Sun Valley, Idaho, a period of youthful exuberance his knees constantly remind him of. He is an enthusiastic cyclist, and finds his daily bike commute an ideal time to meditate on the great natural beauty of the Harney Basin, as well as the best place to plan his next field study.
Welcome Michael Stauder - OSU
Science Communications/Technology Specialist
Michael Stauder first joined us in May of 2022 as a seasonal technician. He was brought on board to collect visuals for a Riparian Management Guide that will be published by the end of this year. Although he was born in central Oregon, he received a BA in Wildlife Ecology & Conservational Biology at Charles Darwin University in Australia nearly a decade ago and has a long history as a traveling ecological technician and wildlife/landscape photographer.
After Michaels initial field season with OSU he started making outreach content about virtual fencing on a USDA-ARS contract (you may have seen some of his videos in the last couple newsletters). In February he was invited to speak about his video production process at a nationwide virtual fence working group meeting at the Society for Range Management conference. His videos were very well received and before he could blink, he had more work than he could handle as a temporary employee.
We are excited to announce that Michael joined the ranks as a permanent employee in August 2023 as a Science Communications/Technology Specialist. This newly created position is based at the Burns station and has a range of responsibilities including the creation of outreach content which will help share the valuable knowledge learned and brilliant work conducted here at EOARC.
If you haven’t checked out EOARC’s Youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/@EOARC) now is the time! Michael already has several videos uploaded for your viewing. Subscribe to keep up with the newest outreach content being produced.
Michael took on Burns’ own Paige Mclain as an intern this summer who helped collect visuals for outreach content. The video below was Paige’s summer project within which she shares some of her favorite pictures she took during her season.
Congratulations to Gracia on defending her master's thesis this past August!
Gracia came all the way from Comayagua (Honduras) to Burns, Oregon. She joined Juliana Ranches lab in 2021 and has been a valuable team member, as she was always ready to help.
During her time at EOARC, Gracia worked on all aspects of the two projects that belonged to her thesis, and she helped in activities related to five other research projects.
Gracia’s master's program focused on trace mineral nutrition of beef calves. One project evaluated the level of trace mineral supplementation before weaning, and the other project assessed the use of injectable trace minerals at key moments of the beef cattle production cycle.
Outreach & Educational Activities
Restoring Riparian Habitat Field Training - On August 28-29, 2023 Chad Boyd, Dustin Johnson and Vanessa Shroeder, along with various other members of the SageSHARE and SageCon Partnerships, put on a field training for land managers across the region. The training focused on the restoration of riparian habitats using their newly developed threat-based assessment model which will be released by the end of 2023. Check back in for the winter newsletter to see the managers guide and associated training video.
2023 Eastern Oregon Economic Summit - EOARC was a Gold Level Sponsor and David Bohnert and Bryan Endress represented EOARC for the events held in multiple locations across Union County, Oregon. For more information about the Eastern Oregon Economic Summit which is hosted by the Eastern Oregon Women’s Coalition click here
Elevated CO2 Counteracts Effects of Water Stress on Woody Rangeland-Encroaching Species
O’Connor, Rory C., D.M. Blumenthal, T.W. Ocheltree, J.B. Nippert
Functional Traits are Used in Restoration Practice: A Response to Merchant et al. (2022)
Gornish, Elise S., C. Campbell, L.N. Svejcar, S.M. Munson, K. Vaughn, M.K. Spaeth, S.G. Yelenik,
A. Wolf, R. Mitchell
Modeling Weather Effects on Plant Production in the California Annual Grassland
Schantz, Merilynn C., S.P. Hardegree, J.J. James, R.L. Sheley, T. Becchetti
Evaluating Multimodel Ensemble Seasonal Climate Forecasts on Rangeland Plant Production in the California Annual Grassland
Schantz, Merilynn C., S.P. Hardegree, J.J. James, T. Becchetti, J.T. Abatzoglou, K.C. Hegewisch,
Invasive Annual Grasses Show Decrease in Seed Size but no Change in Growth or Carbon Economy Following Invasion
Malmberg, Courtney, R.L. Sheley, J.J. James
Extensive Regional Variation in the Phenology of Insects and Their Response to Temperature Across North America
Dunn, Peter O., I. Ahmed, E. Armstrong, N. Barlow, M.A. Barnard, E. Denton et al.
Managing Medusahead Using Dormant Season Grazing in the Northern Great Basin
Price, William J., A. Hulet, K.S. Jensen, E.K. Strand, C.S. Boyd, K.W. Davies, D.D. Johnson,
B.L. Perryman, Y. Di, S.A. Arispe
Ecological Restoration in the Age of Apocalypse
Svejcar, Lauren N., K.W. Davies, A.L. Ritchie
Sage-Grouse (Chapter 10)
Beck, Jeffrey L., T.J. Christiansen, K.W. Davies, J.B. Dinkins, A.P. Monroe, D.E. Naugle,
Inﬂuence of Directional Side of Sagebrush Canopies and Interspaces on Microhabitats
Davies, Kirk W., S.M. Copeland, D.R. Clenet, L.N. Svejcar, J.D. Bates
Is Crested Wheatgrass Invasive in Sagebrush Steppe with Intact Understories in the Great Basin?
Davies, Kirk W., J.D. Bates, C.S. Boyd
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.