WERA1011: Sustainable Rangeland and Watershed Stewardship
Statement of Issues and JustificationHealthy watersheds drive the environmental sustainability, quality of life, and economic viability of the West. The role of a watershed is to capture, store and safely release the water that falls sporadically in rangeland ecosystems. Appropriate ecologically based management on these lands is critical to watershed function, health and productivity. We propose to coordinate programming of extension rangeland watershed management education.
Most of the watersheds in the world, the US, and especially the West are rangeland watersheds. While the concentration of the human population remains sparse on most of these lands, our urban and rural populations depend on these lands for a variety of goods, services and values including clean water, sequestered carbon, fish and wildlife habitat, recreation, open space, minerals, and beautiful landscapes. Consequently, urban and rural communities depend on the long-term sustainability of these lands. Properly managed, rangelands can provide these goods, services and values.
For the past decade Cooperative Extension education programs in the western states have been helping rangeland owners and managers learn about new practices and approaches to rangeland management that protect watersheds, water quality, habitat and biodiversity while supporting economic enterprises. Science-based extension education programs for owners and managers of public and private rangelands are the basis for reducing conflicts between land managers, environmental groups and regulatory agencies. This project proposes to apply traditional and new educational delivery methods to help rangeland owners and managers to voluntarily change practices. It provides a science-based curriculum that will be delivered in both the traditional workshop/classroom setting and also electronically through eXtension, forestandrange.org and/or RangelandsWest.org. Completion of these education programs will result in landowners and managers who monitor their effectiveness through sequential observations of short-term progress and long-term accomplishments. It will also result in certification of landowners or managers who are better prepared to participate in USDA programs such as EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentive Program) and CSP (Conservation Security Program). While educating rangeland owners and managers, this project will also result in public education that creates awareness of rangelands using media coverage to highlight good stewardship, educational tours and events, self-guided tours and roadside stops. A monitoring component will document the effectiveness of new practices and identify research needs.
To implement this program west-wide, Extension educators from the western states will develop a unified but flexible curriculum that emphasizes watershed management and water quality protection while also addressing the needs of rural and urban communities, fish and wildlife habitat, biodiversity and other conservation issues in the west. This project provides the opportunity to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of rangeland and watershed education by incorporating the important components of existing successful educational programs into one project that can be expanded throughout the western states and beyond.
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