Animal Science Department



Roy Roath

Date of this Version

December 1997


Published for Proceedings, The Range Beef Cow Symposium XV December 9, 10 and 11, 1997, Rapid City, South Dakota.


The context in which rangeland livestock enterprises operate is changing in the United States. Economic pressures, markets, agency policies, and greater environmental awareness are challenging range livestock operators to mange their operations mare effectively and to respond to meet the challenges of the question "Are you a good steward of the land?" being posed by friend and foe, alike. This debate on land management practices is increasing. Much of this discussion is focusing on conflicts between the multiple uses of the resource. This affects the western livestock industry in a major way because the industry will be judged on its best bad examples.

By in large. I think that ranchers believe and understand that healthy, vigorous, productive rangelands are essential to their survival. Effective management of the forage resource base of your operation is about sustaining the very basis of production for your ranch. Recognizing the status of resources will reflect the effect of management actions and that managers should assess their practices for long-term sustainability is an important part of its program.

The western livestock industry sees the need for greater communication and understanding among all sectors involved in the care and use of public and private lands. This resource guide was developed with the objective of facilitating that need and providing decision-making and monitoring tools to assist in the management of sustainable ecosystems. Sustainable ecosystems will support financially sound range management enterprises capable of providing the economic return that sustains quality of life for the ranch family, the community, and the society.

Land managers need information an soil, water, and vegetative components of the resource base, as well as demands on that resource, to be able to develop sustainable management strategies. They also need to assess the impact of implemented strategies an the status of the resource. Monitoring is a process that provides baseline resource data and feedback information allowing managers to adjust their management strategies to meet their for goals and objectives.

Monitoring is not a process that can be dealt with in isolation. Setting rangeland objectives and determining their feasibility is essential to monitoring. Managers need to know what and why they are monitoring. They cannot afford the time and the cost of collecting endless pieces of vegetation data without a clear understanding of how that data will be used. Monitoring, as presented here, is for use in the ranch management decision process. Information gathered but not used for decisions is wasted effort and resources.