By: Ruth Luke, Faith Ryan, and Meribeth Lomkin
Due to COVID-19 the summer in-person tour was canceled. However, The Idaho Section of the Society for Range Management and University of Idaho Rangeland Center presented a live webinar and virtual tour of the riparian management and research on the Rinker Rock Creek Ranch June 19, 2020. Eric Winford with the University of Idaho spent countless hours planning and helping produce this webinar and virtual tour for our Section members. He was kind enough to also moderate the webinar and virtual tour. Thank you, Eric, from Idaho SRM Section! We would also like to thank our speakers who made this webinar/tour a success. If you are interested in watching the webinar please contact the Idaho Section at Idaho_SRM@outlook.com and we will work to provide a link for you to view the webinar.
Cameron Packer, Operations Manager, introduced the purpose of and partnerships which support the work at Rinker Rock Creek Ranch and summarized the current activities and research occurring there. Cameron also enlightened the audience on “pre-Rinker Family Ownership” history of the ranch, including historic photos of one of the three original homesteads on the ranch.
Photo Credit: Melinda Ellison.
Melinda Ellison, U of ID Assistant Professor of Range Livestock Research, provided details of the methods and initial interpretations of the data collected on a willow browsing research project. She also gave possible “real life application” of the knowledge gained from this project as well as possible future research expansion. This project is unique because it attempts to separate the impacts that livestock and large wild ungulates have on several species and age classes of willows while incorporating both traditional vegetation monitoring methods and digital evaluation of aerial imagery.
Melinda Ellison and Tracey Johnson, Rinker Rock Creek Ranch Assistant Professor, provided discussion on another research study of different grazing systems (season/intensity/duration) for mesic meadow grazing and the resulting impacts of those grazing systems on forbs, livestock production, and forage quality for livestock & wildlife.
ID Section President-Elect Mike Kuyper created a visual demonstration of “how to” construct and retrofit spring developments in his backyard. It would have been difficult to arrange a more “hands on” demonstration, virtually or in the field! The overview of construction drawings and mention of the new USFS Publication “Rangeland Water Developments at Springs: Best Practices for Design, Rehabilitation and Restoration” (download at https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/59403) tied the live demonstration to “take home” documentation so participants can “dig deeper” (pun intended). Mike also demonstrated the benefits of retrofitting existing livestock water systems by floating stockwater tanks or inflow lines in a leech line system collection box, explaining the benefits of these retro fits to spring ecology/hydrology. The video was very high quality and extremely educational!