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The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) recently presented a national award to the University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service (UW CES) for its work to implement a cooperative range monitoring program.
The USFS presented its National Rangeland Management Award to the Sublette County UW CES cooperative permittee monitoring program at the annual international meeting of the Society for Range Management (SRM) in Louisville, Ky.The monitoring program was started by the Sublette County UW CES office in 1996, and it has since expanded across Wyoming and the West.
Cooperative range monitoring voluntarily brings together ranchers holding permits to graze livestock on public lands with public land management personnel from the USFS, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and other agencies, said Eric Peterson, the UW CES educator who started the program in Sublette County.
"This has provided an opportunity for agency specialists to teach permittees about rangeland ecology, and it's an opportunity for range specialists to have a better understanding of the interests and demands producers must respond to in order to graze livestock on public lands," Peterson said.
Since the program was initiated, Peterson said, relations have improved between permittees and federal land management agencies, and range resources have also improved.
Accepting the national award were Peterson; Silver Creek Grazing Association representative Joel Bousman, a Boulder-area cattle producer who has actively been involved in the cooperative program since its start; and Chad Hayward, a USFS range specialist on the Bridger-Teton National Forest's Pinedale Ranger District.
Others key personnel in the program were Albert Sommers and other grazing permittees in the Upper Green River area; other members of the Silver Creek Grazing Association; USFS employees in Sublette County including Barb Franklin and Jeff Hatch; and BLM employees including Steve Laster.
Actively involved from UW CES, in addition to Peterson, were range management specialist Mike Smith, watershed management specialist Quentin Skinner, and former extension rangeland specialists Kelly Crane and Paul Meiman.
The USFS award committee was "very impressed" by the group's efforts to incorporate scientific principles into successful and sustainable range management, said Cynthia McArthur, the USFS's liaison to the SRM. She is based in Washington, D.C.
Peterson said, "An important part of the Sublette County program was the educational programs we were able to create after receiving grant funding from the BLM and Sublette County. That has helped lead to an effort across Wyoming and the West to start voluntary range permittee programs."
More than 2,000 copies of the bulletin, B-1169, Implementing a Cooperative Permittee Monitoring Program, and 600 DVDs have been distributed throughout the western United States.
The bulletin is available for free download at www.uwyo.edu/CES/PUBS/B1169.pdf.
Copies of B-1169 and/or the DVD can also be ordered free of charge from Peterson at (307) 367-4380 or email@example.com.
In Sublette County, there is now joint monitoring of approximately 300,000 acres of federal lands involving nearly 15,000 cattle and 3,800 sheep.