Wyoming SRM Emphasizes Range HealthWritten by Mae Smith
Rangelands are grasslands, woodlands, shrublands, wetlands and deserts that support mostly native vegetation and are grazed by domestic animals. That sounds like Wyoming, doesn’t it? In fact, rangelands cover 85 percent of Wyoming.
Everyone in Wyoming is tied to rangelands. For ranchers, the connection is obvious, as their livelihood is reliant on this land to raise livestock. And, of course, we Wyomingites love our beef. Many of us also take advantage of public lands for recreational activities like hunting, camping, off-road vehicle use or just for a nice Sunday drive.
There is a big group of us who make a living managing these beautiful landscapes. This sector includes ag producers; federal land management agencies– like the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service and national parks; state lands; private lands; non-governmental organizations; educational entities; and others. With so many people employed in rangeland management, it makes sense that there would be a professional organization where these people can come together, share ideas and learn the latest science.
Society for Range Management (SRM) is the professional society dedicated to supporting persons who work with rangelands and have a commitment to their sustainable use. There are members from across the United States, as well as from Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Wyoming has an active membership of 132 people in our “section.” Much of the membership is comprised of agency employees and educational entities, but we would love to have more ag producers as members.
You may wonder what Wyoming SRM (WY SRM) does throughout the year. One event WY SRM organizes is Wyoming Resource Education Days (WyRED). This is a weeklong outdoor camp for youth that introduces participants to range management principles and techniques. They dig soil pits, estimate forage production, identify plants, tour ranches and have a lot of fun. We hope to inspire the next generation to fill those much needed range manager positions.
Wyoming SRM not only focuses on youth education but also offers professional development opportunities. Ecological Site Descriptions (ESDs) are incredibly useful tools to assist in range management decisions, so there have been workshops on what ESDs are and how to use them. There have also been range schools offered throughout the state. These schools are intensive classroom and field-based courses that cover range management topics such as soils, plants, grazing, monitoring, drought and wildlife.
Wyoming SRM also hosts an annual meeting that rotates around the state. As President-elect of this great organization, I got the pleasure of planning this year’s meeting. The meeting is a great opportunity to network with others who are dedicated to rangelands, hear what projects are going on across the state and learn about range-related topics.
The meeting will be in Cody from Nov. 15-17 at the Holiday Inn. We will be co-hosting with the Wildlife Society. This has been a great collaboration because we will hear about wildlife, range and how they interact through habitat. Larry Butler, host of RFD-TV show “Out on the Land,” will be one of the keynote speakers, along with Steven Buskirk and Joshua Millspaugh.
Some of the other events include a viewing of the PBS film, “The Range Riders,” featuring Wyoming ranchers and how grazing and large predators can co-exist. There will be a morning dedicated to sage grouse monitoring and what techniques are used by different agencies.
The afternoon workshop will be hands-on learning about components of Ecological Site Descriptions. The Nature Conservancy’s Heart Mountain Ranch is the location of the half-day tour where we’ll see beaver dam analogues, range improvement projects and talk about grizzly bear populations.
The conference will conclude with the banquet at the Cody Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
Registration is only $40 and the website for the conference is wytwsconference.org. Please join us at the meeting to see what Wyoming SRM is all about.
There is an SRM representative in your area that you can connect with to ask questions, get involved or make suggestions for educational events you’d like to see. The current WYSRM Council members are:
President: Jessica Crowder
President-Elect: Mae Smith
Past President: Windy Kelley
Secretary/Treasurer: Marji Patz
Newsletter Editor: Brian Sebade
Northeast Council Rep: Kassie Bales
Northwest Council Rep: Curtis Bryan
Southeast Council Rep: Sarah Kauer
Southwest Council Rep: Bryan Christensen
The Northeast and Southwest representatives will change and a new President-elect will be selected at this meeting.