Collaborative Group on Sustainable Grazing For Three National Forests in Southern Utah


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Collaborative Group on Sustainable Grazing For Three National Forests in Southern Utah

  1. 1. Collaborative Group on Sustainable Grazing For Three National Forests in Southern Utah
  2. 2. PURPOSE and PARTICIANTS Convened by the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food and the Utah Department of Natural Resources p
  3. 3. Why a Collaborative Effort?  Need Concerns about the sustainability of livestock grazing on three National Forests in southern Utah     Dixie National Forest Fishlake National Forest Manti – La S l National Forest i Sal i l Goal Develop consensus agreement on grazing management principles and practices for Forest Service lands in Southern Utah that:    provide for ecological sustainability are socially acceptable are economically viable
  4. 4. Participants  Ranching and Local Government      Environmental/Conservation         Brigham Young University Utah State University Advisory:    Utah Dept. of Agriculture and Food p g Department of Natural Resources Natural Resources Conservation Service University   Grand Canyon Trust The Nature Conservancy Trout Unlimited Local private conservation landowner Agencies and Government   Farm Bureau Utah Cattlemen’s Association Utah Wool G U h W l Growers A Association i i County Commissioner U.S. Forest Service Headwaters Economics Facilitation: Univ. f Utah Utah State U i F ilit ti U i of Ut h & Ut h St t Univ.
  5. 5. Indicators Ecological, Social, and Economic
  6. 6. Thinking about Indicators  An indicator: something to measure that helps us understand a system Indicators give us data to help answer the question: “Is th “I the system ecologically, economically, and t l i ll i ll d socially sustainable?”  We asked: will the indicator change with grazing management changes?    Short-term or long term? Small-scale or large-scale? Important:    We did not judge if change would be good or bad, just whether it could happen Other things (rainfall, national beef prices, etc.) may influence indicators, so… Must look at indicators together to see if grazing management is sustainable g g g g
  7. 7. Ecological Indicators  Indicators   Two focus areas    Upland Riparian Example indicators       What to measure to understand the health (sustainability) of the system Many different ages of aspen trees Evidence of seed head maturation Evidence of erosion Grasses hanging over stream banks Stream bank trampling/hoof prints p g p Simple Methods   Reference document is part of report Shows how to measure indicators Healthy aspe o th Health aspen growth (many different ages present)
  8. 8. Ecological Indicators   Upland Riparian    Many potential indicators to choose from Should be used together to really understand conditions Forest Service, ranchers, or anyone else could use them
  9. 9. Social and Economic Indicators   Recommendations for grazing management needed to be socially acceptable and bl d economically viable. What should we measure to better understand the relationships between grazing on the National Forests and the economic and social issues related to it?
  10. 10. Economic and Social Indicators  Grazing matters at different scales:     We suggest measuring these ideas:      Individual ranchers and operations p Local communities Broader public Investment in grazing practices g gp Opportunities to participate in livestock grazing on USFS lands Diversity of grazing arrangements and public involvement Community/County-level Community/County level economic impact of public lands grazing Using these specific measurements… g p
  11. 11. Selected Economic/Social Indicators  Dollar value of time, capital and investment related to grazing management changes on Forest Service land   Number of permitted AUMs p   by month, by USFS district Number and acreage of diverse grazing arrangements   by permittees, by the USFS, and by others by district, by year Average expenditures per cow unit by ranchers who use public land  by county  And others…
  12. 12. Indicators    All indicators were evaluated to make sure they were reasonable Ecological indicators have a potential “simple “ i l method” h d” included Social/Economic indicators do not include suggested methods, but some data is already available
  13. 13. Indicators No one indicator alone is sufficient to reach a conclusion about l i b sustainability
  14. 14. Grazing Management Key Principles and Suggested Practices
  15. 15. Key Principles of Grazing Management  Time   Timing   Duration (length of time) of grazing use in an area When – what season an area gets grazed t d Intensity  How much gets eaten by livestock while they are in an area  Using these principles together provides the foundation for making grazing more sustainable
  16. 16. Key Principles in Practice  An example change in TIME:    An example change in TIMING    Before: Grazing a single pasture for 4 weeks After: Grazing a single pasture for 10 days Before: Grazing a pasture during June each year After: Grazing a pasture in June (year 1), Aug (year 2), Oct (y g p J (y ) g (y ) (year 3) ) An example change in INTENSITY   Before: Animals remove 80% of the forage After: Animals remove 50% of the forage
  17. 17. Grazing management practices  Menu of possibilities  24 suggested practices  Not everything works for every situation  Several kinds of suggestions     To directly influence time, timing, and intensity of grazing To change grazing management decisions To improve conditions for both livestock and ecology To improve monitoring so we understand how to graze most sustainably T i i i d dh i bl
  18. 18. Selected Grazing Practice Suggestions        Move water and salt to help manage where livestock go Consider C id combining allotments or pastures t i bi i ll t t t to increase flexibility Use riders to actively move livestock y Consider multi-season rest for some areas Use reference areas to improve understanding of the ecological potential of an area l l l f Forest Service should consider using a broader suite of ecological indicators to make decisions about grazing management And many more…
  19. 19. Suggestions for how to make it happen       Find permittees interested in piloting innovations Share what is possible to achieve with grazing management Find incentives to motivate permittees Explore ways to have more flexible stocking rates Involve diverse parties in monitoring p g Ensure that Forest Service staff understand the flexibility they have to help improve grazing  The F rest Ser ice sh ld respond to and/or create Forest Service should res nd t and/ r opportunities for multi‐party engagement in grazing management in ways that may lead to changes in:     National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) decisions on grazing systems Allotment Management Plan (AMP) revisions (Timely) Annual Operating Instructions (AOI) development Annual allotment monitoring (data collection and reporting, sharing and discussion of results)
  20. 20. Other recommendations  The collaborative made these and other suggestions:  State ildlif St t wildlife managers and th F d the Forest S i could t Service ld improve coordination and communication regarding wildlife use of grazed areas  When an operation’s bottom line is at stake, making a change can mean taking a risk. Appropriate incentives encourage livestock producers to change.  Educational workshops for all stakeholders could help improve knowledge, cooperation, and better decision making.  The Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management could coordinate to jointly increase opportunities to improve grazing management
  21. 21. Final Products Making Use of the Collaborative Group’s Work
  22. 22. Report Elements  Everything is transparent y g p  Appendices pp     Executive Summary Main R M Report    Grazing Principles Grazing Practices Indicators     Ecological Economic and Social Recommendations Lessons Learned Process:    Background Information     Participants Guiding Document Operating Protocol & Process Key Issues Allotment Information Challenges and Barriers Final products   Indicator evaluation tables Simple methods for ecological indicators
  23. 23. How will these ideas be useful?  The Forest Service    Ranchers/Grazing operators    Monitoring ideas M it i id Process recommendations Grazing management ideas Involvement in monitoring Conservation Community   Opportunities for collaborative i l ll b ti involvement t Monitoring ideas  Others  Opportunities f O t iti for collaborative involvement in monitoring, learning, and grazing improvement
  24. 24. Where do we go from here?  Spread the word  Tools    Ideas     Monitoring ideas Simple methods Grazing management principles Grazing management practices g g p U.S. Forest Service process suggestions Relationships   Increased trust leads to increased communication I d l d i d i i Involve others in learning and planning, no matter who you are
  25. 25. THANK YOU! Full report available at: http://tinyurl com/grazingreport OR:
  26. 26. Additional Detail: Participants  Ranching and Local Government      Environmental/Conservation      Mary O’Brien Grand Canyon Trust O Brien, Joel Tuhy, The Nature Conservancy Casey Snider, Trout Unlimited Dennis Bramble, Local landowner Agencies and Government     John Keeler, Utah Farm Bureau Dave Eliason, Da e Elias n Utah Cattlemen s Association Cattlemen’s Matt Mickel, Utah Wool Growers Association Tom Jeffery, Wayne County Commissioner Bill Hopkin, Utah Dept. of Agriculture & Food Rory Reynolds, Dept. of Natural Resources Shane Green, Natural Resources Conservation Service University   Val Jo Anderson, Brigham Young University Chuck Gay, Utah State University  Advisory:    Allen Rowley, U.S. Forest Service Julie Haggerty Headwaters Economics Haggerty, Facilitation:   Michele Straube, University of Utah Lorien Belton, Utah State University
  27. 27. Additional Detail: Complete list – Upland Ecological Indicators  Gross visual indicators of sustainable upland grazing    Soil stability     Percent soil cover Evidence of erosion Soil surface susceptibility to erosion Plant species composition (compared to rested or reference areas)       Positive indicators – at extremes (e.g., a diversity of native flowers and grasses; aspen stands with diverse heights of trees) Negative indicators – at extremes (e.g., a moist meadow with extensive bare soil; evidence of severe erosion) Simplified Si lifi d measure of plant di f l diversity ( i (count; species richness) i i h ) Significant presence of plant species associated with poor grazing management (e.g. stickseed, tarweed, pepperweed, any noxious species, etc.) Full range of size classes of woody species present Evidence of d i bl plant recruitment, i new (li l ) and medium size plants E id f desirable l i i.e. (little) d di i l (bunchgrasses/forbs) Evidence of seed-head maturation Landscape composition and structure  Change in relative coverage of vegetation types
  28. 28. Additional Detail: Complete list – Riparian Ecological Indicators  Gross visual indicators of sustainable riparian grazing     Percent bare soil (exclusive of rock) Plant species composition (comparison to rested or reference areas)         Percentage of streambank with overhanging vegetation (with channel type as context) Abundance of deep-rooted vegetation (sedges, rushes, and woody species) Trampling/shearing associated with hoofprints (depending on channel type and grazing method for restoration) In-stream conditions I di i    Simplified measure of plant diversity (count) (species richness) – accounting for patch diversity Significant resence f lant s ecies ass ciated ith Si nificant presence of plant species associated with poor grazing management (e.g., Kentucky bluegrass, redtop, r ra in mana ement (e Kent ck bl e rass redt noxious) Evidence of seed-head (including willow catkins) maturation Full range of size classes of woody species present (site dependent) Evidence of desirable plant recruitment, i.e. new little, medium, etc. plants Riparian area structure and function   Positive indicators (e.g., stream banks with grasses overhanging and shading the creek; dense willow of multiple sizes) Negative indicators (e.g., scattered old cottonwood and willow, with heavy browse of sprouts) Pool depths Sedimentation In-stream water quality   Water quality Macroinvertebrates
  29. 29. Additional Detail: Complete list – Social/Economic Indicators (p.1) (p 1)  Investment in Grazing Practices  Dollar value of time, capital and other investments (e.g., short and long-term infrastructure, monitoring, land improvement projects) related to grazing management changes on F h Forest S i l d / allotment by Service land ll b      Permittees, Forest Service, and Other entities Total T t l pounds of meat production / acre / allotment (5-10 year average) d f t d ti ll t t (5 10 ) Opportunities to participate in livestock grazing programs on Forest Service lands  For Permittees     Number of individual permits and Animal Unit Months (AUMs) per permit by district Permitted AUMS by month by district Grazing use reported by district by month For Other Entities  Identification of programs and partners engaged in grazing management arrangements by district, e.g.:     Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR) Conservation organizations Utah Dept. of Agriculture’s Grazing Improvement Program (GIP) p g g p g ( ) Watershed Restoration Initiative (WRI)
  30. 30. Additional Detail: Complete list – Social/Economic Indicators (p.2) (p 2)  Diversity of grazing management arrangements and public involvement that reflects a broad range of societal values  Number and acreage by district and year of diverse grazing management arrangements, including but not limited to:   Changing kind and class of livestock  Rest-rotation systems  Deferred rotation systems  On-off systems  Non-use  Closed areas   Range improvements   Multiple allotments combined into a single system Grass banks Basis of (NEPA) / administrative appeals / formal objections of Forest Service grazing management decisions Number of Forest Service decisions made annually that have participation from multiple stakeholder interests (Forest Service, permittee and others). Count by Ranger District, broken down by these four decision types:   Allotment Management Plan (AMP) revisions  Annual Operation Instruction (AOI) review   National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analysis leading to decisions on grazing systems Annual monitoring (collection of data, report out of the findings, and discussions about the results and implications for future management) Community/County-level economic impact of public lands grazing  Average expenditures per “cow unit” (1 cow/year or 5 sheep/year) per county by ranchers who use public land cow unit land. [This indicator would likely respond only to large-scale changes in grazing management on the National Forests.]
  31. 31. Additional Detail: All Grazing Management Recommendations (p.1)  Ways of changing grazing management decisions        Consider combining allotments or pastures to provide more flexibility for livestock grazing decisions. g p p y g g This could be done by one operator or by many different operators, depending on the scale of the landscape and the degree of interest in working together. Consider multi-season rest in some areas. Consider managing riparian areas/pastures differently than upland pastures to ensure that the y g g pp p sustainability of grazing in each area is appropriate to the resources found there. Consider ways to have more flexible stocking rates so that grazing can more effectively adapt to the resource conditions. This might involve individual permittees organizing operations to have more flexibility, policy decisions by the Forest Service, or groups of operators working together to provide more flexibility across a larger area. Consider changing what kind of livestock grazes each allotment. Not every area is suitable for every g g g y y type of livestock, due to topography and the type of vegetation needed for browsers or grazers. Managing the kinds of grazers can affect the diversity of vegetation in an area. Evaluating how the different kinds of grazers affect the sustainability of grazing in a given area may help clarify problems and provide innovative opportunities for solutions. Consider developing a grass bank or other forage reserve system. This could provide emergency forage in times of hardship, or opportunities to rest other areas following treatments thus increasing the hardship treatments, sustainability of grazing in the area long-term. This would also involve developing a system to administer it. Consider how to strategically use supplements (protein, for example, not hay) for livestock on the forest. Done right, this could help increase the benefit that livestock get from forage, especially when forage is dormant.
  32. 32. Additional Detail: All Grazing Management Recommendations (p.2)  Ways to influence the duration, timing, and intensity of grazing     Use riders to actively manage livestock. This provides an active way to move livestock to areas where they can graze more sustainably, and keep them out of areas where/when their presence i l is less sustainable. i bl Move key resources (like water and salt) that livestock need as a way to help manage where livestock spend time, and how long they are there. Add or remove fencing to provide opportunities for more flexible, resource-conditionbased grazing management decisions decisions. Ways to directly improve conditions for the benefit of both livestock and ecology   Utilize native plant seed whenever possible on range improvement projects. Having native plants in an area improves the sustainability of the system since they are better adapted to local conditions. Actively manage vegetation for a healthy mix of successional stages (a range of ages in plant communities). This might include many different techniques with the goal of having a variety of different plant communities that provide resilience for the whole system. Importantly, no one group is exclusively responsible for making positive changes. Most of these recommendations involve communication and shared decision-making between permittees, the Forest Service,, and p potentially other p y parties as well.
  33. 33. Additional Detail: All Monitoring Recommendations  Ways to improve monitoring for understanding how to graze most sustainably      Consider how to improve compliance monitoring (i.e. whether permittees and the Forest Service are meeting their contractual obligations). Develop monitoring (of ecological indicators, grazing implementation, livestock, etc) that helps improve grazing practice. This means involving permittees and others in designing and interpreting the results of monitoring, so that everyone understands how well different grazing management strategies work at achieving various goals. Use the results of monitoring as an opportunity to improve grazing management, whether that be through permittee choices, Forest Service decisions, or other ways. Monitoring is how we understand the changes in range condition created by different grazing management practices, so monitoring results provide a great opportunity to understand how to graze more sustainably. Consider using reference areas (ungrazed areas in otherwise similar conditions as grazed areas) to understand the ecological potential of an area and provide an important reference point for understanding which changes are related to livestock grazing and which may be due to other factors. Involve a diversity of parties in monitoring. This can bring more expertise, more capacity, and more funding to efforts to understand and increase the sustainability of grazing on Forest Service lands. Involving multiple interests may help ensure that issues of interest to many different public lands users are part of a larger monitoring strategy. As with the other suggestions above, monitoring suggestions are simply a menu of possibilities. Some may be greatly needed in one area, but impossible or irrelevant in another area. In addition, a wide array of individuals and institutions could help implement monitoring suggestions. Nothing recommended here should be considered exclusively the responsibility of any one party party.
  34. 34. Additional Detail: All Forest Service-Specific Strategies Service Specific        The Forest Service should explore the extent of flexibility it currently has to adjust grazing time, timing and intensity to on-theground conditions, and educate its staff about the full extent and benefits of exercising such flexibility. The Forest Service should build in flexibility when authorizing grazing to create opportunities to adjust grazing time, timing and intensity in response to on-the-ground conditions. This may include authorizing the longest possible season or the maximum on the ground possible Animal Unit Months (AUMs). This would increase flexibility to adjust the very specific grazing season, or specific number of livestock to meet resource objectives within a wide possible operating season. In creating this flexibility, the system must build in accountability measures to ensure that flexibility does not undermine ecological sustainability. The Forest Service should consider using new or different indicators to make decisions about grazing management. For example, stubble height has been used as a key annual indicator for many years, but other indicators may be more useful in determining whether Forest Service allotments are being sustainably grazed. g yg Forest Plan Amendments may include default standards, with an option for permittees to develop an alternate (more flexible) plan through multi-interest collaboration. Any alternate plan should include performance standards (an identification of specific ecological goals that must be met), rather than imposing design standards (specific grazing management tools like utilization). The use of performance standards can encourage flexibility and creativity in grazing management practices. The Forest Service should encourage “early adopters” to pilot and experiment with new grazing management practices. This would serve an educational purpose for those involved in the pilot as well as for others interested in improving grazing pilot, management on public lands. Pilots should be closely monitored to determine whether the new grazing management practices are successful in promoting ecological sustainability, recognizing that it may take 3-5 years to see results. Pilot projects should include annual accountability (e.g., monitoring and adaptive management). Work to understand how other uses of Forest Service land, such as recreation, impact grazing sustainability, and how to address any related issues (for example, recreationists leaving gates open between pastures). The F Th Forest Service should respond to and/or create opportunities for multi-party engagement in grazing management in ways S i h ld d d/ ii f li i i i that may lead to changes in:     National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) decisions on grazing systems Allotment Management Plan (AMP) revisions (Timely) Annual Operating Instructions (AOI) development Annual allotment monitoring (data collection and reporting sharing and discussion of results) reporting,
  35. 35. Additional Detail: Other recommendations (shortened version)           Ensure that discussions about grazing management include other parties whose decisions influence the sustainability of grazing on Forest Service lands. Livestock grazing and wildlife management decisions should not be made independently independently. Encourage operators to utilize existing programs and resources to identify ways to improve flexibility and sustainability of their operations. Encourage communication and collaborative work among all interested parties. Forests should be open and flexible to a di F t h ld b d fl ibl t diversity of grazing arrangements on th th it f i t the three F Forests t in southern Utah, with no particular percentage designated for any given type. Change in grazing management practices needs to be encouraged and supported by all stakeholders. Look for incentives for permittees that will motivate grazing management that results in more forage and improved land health. Decisions improve with transparency and input from diverse interests. Dialogue – face-to-face conversation in which the participants listen to diverse opinions with respect and an open mind – is an important tool for building trust. Studies quantifying the direct and indirect benefits of a range of grazing management practices provide valuable information, especially at a large scale (100,000 acres or more). Technical assistance to ranchers should be increased.