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Posts Tagged: range

Early Warning California - Rangelands Disappearing

Below is a an article released by the US Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station. It is worth a read by anyone interested in rangelands and open space and the impacts from urban development. Especially chilling for Californians! 

Homes on the Range: Helping to Understand Residential Development of U.S. Rangelands


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A Changing Landscape


This graphic, Rangelands on the Edge, shows aspects of conversion, including watershed fragmentation. The darkest red color, concentrated in the midwest of the U.S. from Texas to Montana, represents the most fragmented rangeland watersheds.
Rangelands on the Edge quantifies and maps aspects of rangeland conversion, including watershed fragmentation. The darkest red color on the map represents the most fragmented rangeland watersheds.
When the words to the classic folk song “Home on the Range” were written in 1872, U.S.rangelands were much more extensive than they are today. Over the past three centuries in the coterminous United States, one-thirdofrangelands — once covering a billion acres — have been modified or converted to other land uses. This shift is projected to continue, because privatelyownedrangelands, which are the most likely to be converted to other uses, represent more than 60 percent ofAmerica'srangelands. 

Residential Development and Spatial Analysis

Residential development has had a particularly significant impact on rangeland ecosystems, including wildlife habitat reduction and fragmentation, altered hydrology and water quality, and decreased availability of natural and recreational goods and services. It's a growing issue, as an additional 5.6 million acres of U.S. rangelands are expected to make way for residential development in the next two decades or so, with more than 1 million of those acres in California and Texas alone.

To better understand where and how residential development is likely to affect U.S. rangelands, a team of scientists is collaborating on an ongoing project known as Rangelands on the Edge, which estimates past and projected rangeland conversion while evaluating landscape-level rangeland threats. It's similar to another Forest Service project called Forests on the Edge, which also has the key goals of increasing awareness of ecosystem values and challenges while creating tools for strategic planning.

Where to Find the Findings 

People can find a report based on this project, entitled “Rangelands on the Edge: Quantifying the Modification, Fragmentation, and Future Residential Development of U.S. Rangelands.” The lead author, a research ecologist for the Rocky Mountain Research Station named Matt Reeves, explains, “Landscape change is inevitable and there will be tradeoffs. This research provides a springboard for having discussions about what we want the future to look like.”

The photo shows a grazing black cow closer to the camera with other cows grading in the field behind it. Houses are visible in the background.
Much of the decline in rangeland area is due to land use changes associated with exurban development, agriculture, and grazing (Photo by Carrie MacLaren, courtesy of 1000 Friends of Oregon).


According to the spatial analysis described in the report, continued rangeland conversion will affect some areas more than others. California and Texas are likely to be most affected, followed by Florida, Arizona, and Colorado. States with less dense human populations, such as Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota, will be impacted less although localized changes may be significant. Also, further rangeland conversion is most likely around urban areas. The report also indicates that residential development impacts are reduced by concentrating housing in specific areas while setting aside and managing open spaces through conservation easements and land purchases.


  • Through a project called Rangelands on the Edge, RMRS scientists and collaborators are studying past, current, and projected changes to rangelands related to residential development in the conterminous United States.
  • A recently published report on the project includes maps and analysis of variables such as housing density, road and soil characteristics, topography, proximity to population centers, and land cover, use, and ownership.
  • This information can help refine planning and development decisions related to residential locations, land cover, highway placement, watershed management, and minimizing the effects of rangeland fragmentation.
  • While past U.S. rangeland conversion has been driven by agricultural development, especially in the Great Plains region, the greatest projected residential development is in the arid Southwest and California, especially near urban areas. Of more than 5.3 million acres of projected residential development through 2030, nearly 2.5 million acres are in California and Texas. Certain smaller urban centers such as Bozeman, Montana, will also continue to experience rapid changes.
  • Scientists are available to help interpret findings on a local level. Additional information can be obtained by contacting Matt Reeves at matt.c.reeves@usda.gov.

 Planning for Wildfire, Wildlife Management, and More

Reeves also describes an issue he's seen in western Montana: “Here in the Bitterroot Valley, the human population is expanding while agricultural and rangeland resources are being diminished. As a result, there's been an increase in motor vehicle collisions with elk as they're squeezed into corridors that might require them to cross a road. Our research can help develop travel management plans that consider wildlife corridors and include carefully placed overpasses, underpasses or fences.”

Reeves hopes the work will enable more informed decision-making related to U.S. rangeland development. He explains, “While there's some urgency about this issue, there's also opportunity. We believe that this research is the first step in more localized research, which will help bring people to the table.”

Further Reading

Reeves, Matthew C.; Krebs, Michael; Leinwand, Ian; Theobald, David M.; Mitchell, John E. 2018. Rangelands on the Edge: Quantifying the modification, fragmentation, and future residential development of U.S. rangelands. RMRS-GTR-382. Fort Collins, Colorado: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station.

Posted on Thursday, May 30, 2019 at 2:57 PM
Focus Area Tags: Environment Natural Resources

UCCE Livestock and Natural Resources Position Announcement Placer-Nevada-Sutter-Yuba

The University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources is seeking a Cooperative Extension Advisor who will serve UCCE Placer-Nevada and Sutter-Yuba Counties with headquarters in Auburn, CA. Please help spread the word about this position that will focus on integrating livestock, natural resources, food systems and economics.

A minimum of a master's degree is required, though other advanced degrees are encouraged, in disciplines such as animal science, rangeland management or other closely related fields. Incumbent is required to become a Certified Rangeland Manager within five years of date of hire; see http://casrm.rangelands.org/HTML/certified.html.

Excellent written, oral, and interpersonal communication skills are required. The ability to build partnerships and to work with multidisciplinary teams to address production and environmental challenges is required. Experience in applied research and extension is preferred.

SUBMIT BY date for full consideration is Monday February 27, 2017. It is position #AP16-20.

See the web link http://ucanr.edu/Jobs/Jobs_990/?jobnum=1123 for access to the full position announcement and required academic application form.

Questions about this recruitment may be directed to Karen Ellsworth: Phone: 530 750-1284; kaellsworth@ucanr.edu.


Posted on Friday, February 10, 2017 at 2:51 PM

Leslie Roache Accepts Position As UCCE Range Management Specialist!

UC Davis Rangeland Watershed Lab announced that Dr. Leslie Roche, formerly Lead Scientist at the Lab has accepted the offer from UC Davis Plant Sciences and UCCE as our new statewide Rangeland Management Specialist in Cooperative

Extension. She formally joins the UC Davis Faculty September 1. “We had some serious competition to keep her here at UCD, and were lucky to do so,” says Dr. Kenneth Tate, Rangeland Watershed Lab. Her research is published on the Lab's site. Congratulations, Leslie!

Many of you have had the chance to meet Leslie prior to her appointment as she has been leading the California Ranch Stewardship Program. She fills the void left by Mel George who we in UCCE called "Uncle Mel". Perhaps she will become known as Auntie Leslie. Please welcome her in her new career!


Posted on Wednesday, June 10, 2015 at 3:07 PM

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