AgriLife Extension publishes new native grassland management resource
The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service has a new resource available to help landowners monitor and manage the health of their native rangeland. The publication, Native Grassland Monitoring and Management, targets landowners within the Trinity River Basin and similar areas, said Blake Alldredge, AgriLife Extension associate with Texas A&M University’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
He said the publication describes in detail several range monitoring and management techniques. It is now available in the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Bookstore. Alldredge noted that the monitoring and management information offered is applicable across the state.
“Monitoring the ecological site condition or health of the land is necessary for landowners to evaluate how past land management decisions are affecting the plant, soil and water resources of the landscape,” Alldredge said. “Monitoring specifically examines the plant species present and how much area they cover. Being able to see how range conditions change over time, which is also known as range trend, will allow land managers to make the best management decisions as conditions change.”
The monitoring techniques covered in the publication will be of particular help to wildlife managers and livestock producers to help them determine what management activities are needed to reverse negative range trends, he said.
The monitoring techniques covered in the publication include photo points, grazing exclosures, nest and cover surveys, grass stubble height surveys and forage clipping surveys. Management techniques covered include chemical and mechanical treatments, prescribed burning, disking, shredding and grazing.
“The main goal of the publication is to connect land monitoring and management techniques with proper watershed protection, because they are one and the same,” Alldredge said. “Well-managed native grasslands and tame pastures are important to watershed protection as they increase the water storage capacity of the soil, reduce erosion, promote groundwater recharge and provide more efficient nutrient absorption. Landowners also benefit from increased forage production and quality wildlife habitat.”
Alldredge said his bottomline hope is that the publication will aid the watershed enhancement efforts of AgriLife Extension, Trinity Waters and other groups seeking to improve the wildlife and water quality resources in the Trinity River basin.
The publication was produced through the Building Partnerships for Cooperative Conservation Initiative of the Trinity River basin project. The project is funded by the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board through a Clean Water Act grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is managed by the Texas Water Resources Institute. Through this initiative, Alldredge said AgriLife Extension has partnered with Trinity Waters, a landowner organization based in the Trinity River basin, to produce educational materials related to water and wildlife conservation for landowners.