Essential ingredients effective use grazing context conserving listed plant species

Essential ingredients for effective use of grazing in the context of conserving listed plant species

Catherine A. Little, Deborah L. Rogers
Center for Natural Lands Management,

Essential ingredients for native plant conservation vary depending on the management objectives and context. The context in which the Center for Natural Lands Management (CNLM) practices conservation is one of managing nature preserves with listed (state or federal) species. This creates an environment in which a multi-faceted approach is necessary for effective conservation. Essential elements can include effective communication and cooperation with conservation partners, risk assessment and management, monitoring and documentation, and adaptive management. For example, CNLM utilizes vegetation management techniques such as grazing as a tool for promoting native plant composition and diversity for certain habitats and contexts. When planning and implementing an appropriate grazing regime within these sensitive habitats, it is essential to maintain active communication and cooperation with various entities such as ranchers, regulatory agency personnel, and adjacent landowners. It is important to develop management goals that are at the appropriate management scale and address both weed control and (listed) species protection and enhancement. To reduce risk, it is beneficial to make an assessment to determine whether grazing is appropriate, whether only portions of the property should be grazed initially, and include special conditions in lease agreements. Necessary to having a successful grazing program is implementing a monitoring program in which you are documenting and evaluating the results, and discussing these with others, including the rancher, to make changes to the program in future years. For long-term success, it is also important to evaluate not only sustainability of the habitat, but also the grazing operation.