Using Local Knowledge of Rangelands to Inform Flexible Management in a Changing Climate

Sheep move through public lands near Shoshone, Idaho
  • Bureau of Land Management, Idaho
In Progress

The Idaho Bureau of Land Management (BLM) uses a permitting process to administer public land across the state for livestock grazing for over 1600 livestock producers. BLM specialists and livestock producers like ranchers work to create and administer the terms of the permits to manage rangelands for sustained multiple uses and rangeland health. Ranchers and BLM specialists have relationships with the land and bring their unique knowledge sets to rangeland management.

 Understanding how the ecosystem is changing and how to respond to these changes presents constant management challenges. Rangeland managers rely on monitoring, using ecological indicators to track changes and responses in ecological processes, as well as knowledge of the ecosystem to adapt. For livestock producers to have management flexibility and for permits to adequately accommodate changes necessitated by climate variations, monitoring must accurately represent the objectives and management responses of both the livestock producers and the BLM. Comparing the indicators that agencies and ranchers select to assess and inform management can build an understanding of rangeland knowledge and management in Idaho and the opportunities for collaboration and adaptation.

This research project will investigate how Bureau of Land Management specialists’ and ranchers’ identified indicators and applied knowledge systems compare on management and ecological timelines. To answer this question, Callie will conduct interviews with ranchers and BLM specialists throughout Idaho, which will be used to create ecological calendars. Ecological calendars can visually represent the timing and fluctuations of indicators and be used to show the alignment of management, local knowledge and ecological change. The calendars and interview information can be used to help align management timelines with ecological timelines affected by climate change.  The results of this project can help collaboration and communication in the rangeland management community and inform Idaho BLM’s efforts to update rangeland grazing management.