A Note from Dave:
Summer seems to have finally arrived! We are very thankful for the production in our flood meadows and rangeland – and the full water holes!! Hopefully cattle will be able to stay on pastures and allotments throughout the summer and fall and hay stacks will be adequate for winter feeding.
EOARC faculty and staff have been very busy with field season fully underway and participating in a number of outreach projects. Juliana Ranches, Katie Wollstein, and colleagues from OSU and the University of Idaho conducted a Wildfires, Smoke, and Livestock Webinars Series. EOARC Burns was able to host the Harney County 2nd Grade Field Trip for the first time since 2019. This annual event (Covid altered that the prior 3 years) shows youth what we do at EOARC, how science impacts their lives and our environment, and does it in a way that is fun and engaging. Another event that were able to hold for the first time since 2019 was the Range Field Day. The field day was hosted by EOARC Burns and was held at the Northern Great Basin Experimental Range. We had a great attendance and received a lot of positive feedback from the programs which included updates on the research around rangeland carbon, grazing and fire, and virtual fencing. The Marvin Klemme Memorial Fund provided lunch for all attendees. At the conclusion of the Range Field Day we held a brief EOARC Burns Advisory Committee meeting.
I would like to update you all on staffing at EOARC. We are currently in the process of hiring a Rangeland Scientist that will be based out of EOARC Union and will also teach within the curriculum of the OSU Animal and Rangeland Sciences Department and OSU’s Eastern Oregon Agriculture and Natural Resource Program at Eastern Oregon University in La Grande. I hope to introduce the hire in the Fall Newsletter. Also, we are currently working to hire a Media Communications/Technology Specialist that will be based out of EOARC Burns but provide services for both the Union and Burns stations. This position will be supported by OSU, USDA-ARS, and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and generate outreach videos, media, and other materials for use by our stakeholders.
As always, we are extremely proud to acknowledge when our faculty and staff receive awards. Vanessa Schroeder received the 2023 Agricultural Research Foundation Faculty Research Assistant Award at the College of Agricultural Sciences Awards Luncheon in June. This was well deserved and we are extremely fortunate to have Vanessa as a colleague at EOARC.
In this edition, our Stakeholder Spotlight is Maura Laverty who is a Rangeland Management Specialist with the USDA Forest Service. She is a valued member of the EOARC Union Advisory Committee and is an active member of the Society for Range Management.
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.
I hope you are all well!
Director, Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center (Burns and Union Stations)
Oregon State University
A Note from Chad:
Greetings from Burns. Looking out my office window I’m seeing blue skies, plenty of green and growing grass in the meadows, and a conspicuous absence of grasshoppers. Given the last few years I may just run to town and buy a lotto ticket.
While the preceding vista seems rare these days, our spring has actually been decidedly average…it’s just that we don’t get “average” conditions very often. To put a point on that, a few years ago we analyzed 70 years of precipitation data from our Northern Great Basin Experimental Range (NGBER). We defined an “average” year as being within plus or minus 10% of the long-term average annual precipitation. What we found is that we get an “average” year about once every four years, with more extreme wet or dry years being the rule. I’m also reflecting on the fact that, weather wise, we had average conditions here in Burns this year for our July 4th. I can recall at least two Independence Days since I arrived in Harney County in 1999 when we had snow flying.
With all of that variability going on, one of the constants over time has been the EOARC Range Field Day. Yes, it was interrupted by COVID, but we are rolling again and I want to thank everyone who made the trek out to the NGBER to partake of our 2023 Range Field Day. I also want to thank all of the EOARC staff who invested their time in organizing, setting up, taking down, and presenting. Your efforts are very much appreciated.
There is a series of pictures on the wall of the NGBER Visitor’s Center that was taken during a Range Field Day in the 1930’s. One of those pictures is a shot of 1930’s vintage vehicles lined up along the road south of the Headquarters facility. At this year’s Field Day I looked at that picture, and then gazed out the window at the 2000’s vintage vehicles parked in a similar fashion and the continuity of it all really struck me. Not just the continuity of the event per se, but the continuity of investment in a vision of science-informed management that is, and has been, shared with the customers we serve for over 80 years. I hope that someone has the opportunity to express similar sentiments for the EOARC Range Field Day in 2103.
I want to introduce you to the newest member of our Burns ARS team, Tammi Holliday. Tammi recently filled the Program Support Assistant position that Liz Alberta vacated a little over a year ago. Tammi, Linda Villagrana Miller and Dawnetta Hauth, our Burns administrative team play vital roles in helping us to produce customer-driven science and outreach products. For every science and outreach accomplishment we have, there are a multitude of administrative accomplishments that support that work and allow it to move forward. Welcome aboard Tammi!
Lastly, thank you to Shellie for the great job she does in putting together this newsletter and providing another venue to communicate EOARC science and activities to our customers.
As always, feel free to reach out to me at any time and I hope you have a good rest of the summer.
Research Leader, Eastern Oregon Agricultural Research Center, Burns
USDA-Agricultural Research Service
A Note from Cameron: The Nature Conservancy (TNC)
Happy summer! After a snowy start, the EOARC TNC team is full steam ahead with our summer field work. Corinne, Michael, and Schuyler have been hard at work monitoring this year’s Seed Technology Experimental Garden Array (STEGA) plots to evaluate the success of native seed herbicide protection technologies across a range of landscape contexts. This year, we have also been conducting follow-up monitoring of previous year’s experiments to better understand the long-term success of restoration efforts using these methods. We are also in the process of installing the largest demonstration of our seed technologies to date at the Trout Creek Ranch. For me, one of the most exciting aspects of this demo is that the planting will be implemented using common restoration methods (i.e., a rangeland seed drill). Though effective use of current-practice equipment will likely involve slight modifications, the compatibility of our technology with current agency practices ensures the rapid and effective adoption of herbicide protection at large scales.
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of traveling to Boulder, CO for a virtual fence planning meeting. We discussed the socio-ecological implications of broad-scale adoption of virtual fence technology, as well as explored potential models for public/private ranching operations using virtual fence. As this technology is adopted more broadly, our close federal, state, and producer relationships are invaluable for understanding and innovating in this novel and exciting landscape.
Finally, we are happy to learn that the talents of Dylan O’Leary are staying in Oregon! As a UVM graduate student, Dylan used threat-based ecostate models to pinpoint areas of management priority at Trout Creek Ranch in partnership with the Oregon Desert Land Trust and TNC. He will be working with the Institute of Natural Resources on tech transfer, specializing in the application of open-source mapping products to inform management of sage-steppe ecosystems. TNC (and myself personally!) are very interested in this space, and looking forward to continue collaborating. Congratulations, Dylan!
Please feel free to reach out to email@example.com with any questions!
The Nature Conservancy
Animal Science Annual Meeting - Albuquerque, NM July 16-20, 2023
Riparian Management Workshop - Baker County August 29, 2023
Harney County Fair - Burns September 6-10, 2023
Stakeholder Spotlight: Maura Laverty
I am a rangeland management specialist with the USDA Forest Service, located in the Wallowa-Whitman headquarters in Baker City. Until the fall of 2022, I served as the range program manager for the Wallowa-Whitman and Umatilla National Forests since 2013, and the invasives program manager for the Wallowa-Whitman since 2017. My 36-year career with the Forest Service has been in rangeland management.
I am a member of the Society for Range Management (SRM), past president of the Pacific Northwest (PNW) section of SRM, serve on the SRM Awards committee and 2025 Spokane, WA planning committee, and am a member of the EOARC Union Station advisory board. I am on the range directives team updating the Forest Service manual and handbooks for management of rangelands and permitted livestock grazing. I support wildland fire fighting as an expanded dispatch support dispatcher.
Last fall I accepted the role of rangeland management specialist on the Blue Mountains forests plan revision team for the Malheur, Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman. I look forward to working with our partners in writing meaningful and implementable forest plans, based on the best available science. In this role, I continue working with the Blues Intergovernmental Council (BIC), and other collaborators and partners to develop the best management practices for rangeland management and livestock grazing on the three national forests.
I’ve had the unique opportunity to work with La Grande’s PNW Lab Starkey Experimental Forest and Range in management of the Forest Service Starkey grazing allotment, utilizing the OSU’s EOARC Union Station Hall Ranch cattle under a livestock use research permit in the grazing studies of livestock and wildlife effects on streambank disturbance or alteration in streams with ESA-listed fish, and finding the compatibility level between the cattle grazing and healthy fish populations. This partnership is crucial to the sustainability of the permitted livestock grazing program in the Forest Service. The outcome of this research will be incorporated into the proposals for the revised forest plans.
I’m an advocate for working with partners to find solutions to issues, knowing that a single entity does not have all the answers, and that we work better together. Afterall, I am a civil servant managing federal public lands. So, my goal is to ensure the rangelands and the permitted livestock grazing are managed sustainably for the future generations to love, appreciate, utilize, and enjoy as much as I do! I look forward to continuing to work together on management of our rangelands.
It's been an exciting time around EOARC Burns this spring. For the first time since 2019, we were able to collaborate with Slater Elementary School to host the second-grade field trip so students could learn about natural resources and meet the people that make the research possible. Arthur Aufderheide once said “All knowledge is connected to all other knowledge. The fun is in making the connections”. Through a series of six different stations, with hands-on activities, we hoped to make that true.
The first of the six stations was all about fuel loads and took place in the sorting lab. The lab featured an adventure course that was designed to teach kids about how wildfires can spread easier when invasive annual grasses are introduced to sagebrush ecosystems. First the kids were told they were ‘fire itself’ approaching a mixture of sagebrush and bare ground. They had to jump through and get to the other side. Once there, the cheatgrass spreads, and now the kids were able to run through the course. This taught them that fire spreads easier when there is more fuel on the ground. Lauren Svejcar, who was helping run the station said she loved watching how smart the kids were and watching them start to understand that more cheat grass means more fire.
The second station was also about fire. The purpose of this station was to show the second graders how wildfire interacts with the various types of fuels in the sagebrush steppe. After everyone got on their PPE, Dustin Johnson and Katie Wollstein started lighting different types of plants on fire while the second graders measured the temperatures of the fire with a geo thermometer. When we asked Dustin what his favorite part of the day was, he said it was their questions and unprompted stories.
The third station introduced the second graders to a commonly used tool here at the station, GPS units. The second graders learned about this invaluable tool by taking part in a treasure hunt to find one of their favorite things, candy! Students were given a notecard with coordinates to guide them to the treasure. When asked about their favorite part of the day, our techs said that it was seeing the kids' excitement of getting to hold the GPS units in their hands and also, just to be able to participate in such a fun day.
The fourth station may be one of the most memorable for the class in years to come. First students started out learning about the importance of cows. They learned that cows not only provide food, but are used in making leather, makeup, gummy bears and fishing line among many other things. After this, the second graders moved onto the hands-on portion. Here they were given the opportunity to stick their hand into the side of the ‘holy cow’. This cow has been surgically fitted with a cannula, which is a device that provides scientists access to the rumen of a cow to study digestion. When asked about his favorite part of the day, David Bohnert said he loved the excitement and bravery of the kids. He said the most unsuspecting kids wanted to stick their hand in the cow and even if they were scared, they couldn't fight their curiosity.
The fifth station focused on photosynthesis. It’s quite a task to teach young ones about the complex process of plants creating food from the sun, but without fail, our team was able to do it. They chose to incorporate two hands-on activities, the first included taking a deeper look at a flower. This gave the students an opportunity to tell us how much they already know about plants! Then they got on their running shoes and raced back and forth exchanging balls of nutrients for packets of sugar. Our tech said the highlight of his day was seeing all the curiosity - kids ask questions that you may never have thought of.
The last station was all about trees and how we know how old they are. Students all contributed in taking a tree core and practiced counting tree rings to determine a tree's age. When we asked our tech about their favorite part they responded, “all the answers the kids had that went above and beyond the questions that were asked.”
This field trip is something that will forever be a memory for both staff and the students. Parents came along to chaperone and watched their kids face curiosity and excitement as they learned about natural resources. Our crew got to inspire and educate growing members in the community. Slater Elementary’s second graders inspired EOARC staff with questions we may have never thought of. It's safe to say that we accomplished Aurthor Aufderheide’s philosophy that the fun in knowledge is making connections.
Congrats to Vanessa Schroeder who was awarded the Agricultural Research Foundation
2023 College of Agricultural Science Faculty Research Assistant Award. Well deserved!!
EOARC hosted the EOARC/OSU Range Field Day on June 21, 2023. We had a great turnout (over 100) and received a lot of positive feedback from attendees. We also had a EOARC Burns Advisory/Liaison Committee meeting later in the day where we provided ARS and OSU updates and received committee input on natural resource and livestock challenges facing land and livestock managers.
Outreach & Educational Activities
Confronting Global Ecological Challenges at the Landscape Scale: Remote Sensing Tools to Assess Ecosystems Pre- and Post Fire - In mid-June, EOARC hosted Drs. Leonor Calvo (University of León), José Manuel Fernández-Guisuraga (University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro), and Sergio Arispe (Oregon State University) for a seminar entitled, Confronting Global Ecological Challenges at the Landscape Scale: Remote Sensing Tools to Assess Ecosystems Pre- and Post-Fire. In addition to the seminar, EOARC, visiting scientists, and partners from Burns Interagency Fire Zone, Harney Soil and Water Conservation District, Harney Natural Resource Conservation Service, Harney Cooperative Weed Management Area, High Desert Partnership, and USGS spent time in the Stinkingwater Mountains to learn about fuel conditions and assigning fuel models, the practical challenge of assessing fuel loads annually on large landscapes, making treatment decisions, and coordinating this work.
Native Lagomorphs Prolong Legacy Effects Limiting Restoration of Imperiled Shrub-Steppe Communities
Davies, Kirk W., J. Bates, L. Svejcar
Frequent and Catastrophic Wildfires in Great Basin Rangelands: Time for a Proactive Management Approach
Davies, Kirk W., D.D. Johnson, J. Smith
Trends, Impacts, and Cost of Catastrophic and Frequent Wildfires in the Sagebrush Biome
Crist, Michele R., R. Belger, K.W. Davies, D.M. Davis, J.R. Meldrum, D.J. Shinneman,
T.E. Remington, J. Welty, K.E. Mayer
Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fuel: Dynamic Vegetation Data Improve Predictions of Wildfire Hazard in the Great Basin
Smith, Joseph T., B.W. Allred, C.S. Boyd, K.W. Davies, M.O. Jones, A.R. Kleinhesselink,
J.D. Maestas, D.E. Naugle
Using Dynamic, Fuels-Based Fire Probability Maps to Reduce Large Wildfires in the Great Basin
Maestas, Jeremy D., J.T. Smith, B.W. Allred, D.E. Naugle, M.O. Jones, C. O’Connor, C.S. Boyd,
K.W. Davies, M.R. Crist, A.C. Olsen
Grazing Effects on Fuels Vary by Community State in Wyoming Big Sagebrush Steppe
Thomas, T.W., K.W. Davies
Grazing Intensity Effects on Fire Ignition Risk and Spread in Sagebrush Steppe
Orr, Devyn A., J.D. Bates, K.W. Davies
Strategic Supplementation to Manage Fine Fuels in a Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum)−Invaded System
Stephenson, Mitchell B., B.L. Perryman, C.S. Boyd, B.W. Schultz, T. Svejcar, 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.