Rangelands

The Range Management Zone

Barry Perryman, SRM Director 

As I pen this bit of prose, I am still under the influence of my drug of choice; music.  I have been listening to an arrangement of Procol Harum’s Whiter Shade of Pale, recorded with the Danish National Concert Orchestra and choir at Ledreborg Castle, Denmark in August 2006.  Of course it’s on YouTube, so you can also experience the space cadet glow for yourself.  Gary Brooker’s music based on J.S. Bach’s Air on the G-String opus, combined with Keith Reid’s lyrics, make the whole thing sound like an Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec painting of the nightly antics in the Moulin Rouge; head shaking brilliance. 

I am sure by now you are wondering when exactly it was that I fell through the looking glass (my mother used to wonder as well).  However, the relationship between Procol Harum’s classic and rangeland management is clear.  Rangeland management is the science and art of optimizing the returns from rangelands in the combinations desired by societies.  Music is also a science and an art.  Ecology is the underpinning science of rangeland management while mathematics underpins music.  The art aspect of music is less definable, but the arrangement of lyrics, meter, and frequencies determines a specific piece of music.  Application of ecological principles in various configurations determines a specific range management plan.  Both music and ecology use theories and formulas to solve problems.  So range management and music are strikingly similar. 

Not everyone has the passion and ability to create music.  Society recognizes this and appreciates artist musicians.  Similarly, not everyone has the passion and ability to create and implement rangeland management plans and policies.  However, society at large may not be aware of the contributions that SRM members provide for the greater good.  But those who are aware recognize what the world would be like without SRM members and their loyalty to the profession. 

SRM members are valuable.  Our members provide an incredible service to ours and other societies throughout the world.  Imagine what the world would be like if there were no such profession.  Given the socio-political challenges of the past few decades, what kind of dystopian universe would we live in today if those charter members of our SRM had not implemented their vision and passion in February, 1948?  You, my fellow members, are part of the counterweight that holds the world together ecologically (and maybe socio-politically).  Professional societies, like SRM, are a rare breed of professionals that actively accredit university degree programs, and produce and conduct continuing education efforts; all while advocating for and implementing the application of ecological principles on the ground. 

You, my colleagues have value!  You do the things that must be done for the benefit of the resource base; and mostly you do them in the dark, without recognition of any kind.  But you do them just the same.  You use science, art, expression, knowledge, imagination, and passion to accomplish it.  It is a strange and curious profession we have.  As evidence, just try to explain what you do to the uninitiated! 

In closing, I will borrow some words from the great Rod Serling, “There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man.  It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity.  It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears, and the summit of his knowledge.  This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call …‘The Range Management Zone’.

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