By: Eddie Alford, SRM Director
Hello SRM Members. Most of you have been involved with, or discussed, the position our organization should take on issues and management decisions related to the management of our rangelands. One side would involve SRM taking on an advocacy role and basically taking a position of supporting or not supporting particular issues, management decisions, legislation, or federal nominations. Another way of looking at is that SRM would generally stick to the scientific side and support methods of management or policy that has been scientifically researched, applied and monitored.
SRM leaders have done a great deal of work addressing the concern with the organizations involvement in range related issues, and they have crafted guidelines to help keep our positions in alignment with our Mission. So, I decided to go back and review our Mission, Bylaws and guidelines to understand the process that we use in taking a position of support. The idea was that this review would help me, and maybe other members, decide what level of involvement SRM should have.
First, a reminder of what our Mission Statement says: “Providing leadership for the stewardship of rangelands based on sound ecological principals.”
I think it is agreed that it is important for SRM to be seen as the most reliable source of scientific information on rangeland resources. Keeping the Mission and desired reputation as guiding principles, SRM committees, officers, and leaders crafted guidelines with the following documents:
These four documents do an excellent job of tying back to the SRM Mission and objectives.
For example, the “Advocacy Guidelines” state that: “SRM’s external advocacy will be ethically and professionally sound. Advocacy statements will not degrade the SRM’s reputation as the most reliable source of scientific information on rangeland resources; rangeland related scientific information will be used appropriately when members address rangeland resource issues; and advocacy statements will be widely supported within the SRM because they will be technically correct, respectful of alternative views, and consistent with SRM Policy Statements, Position Statements, Bylaws, the SRM Code of Ethics, and Standards for Conduct for SRM Members Providing Public Service.” However, as Vice President Marlow points out in his article above, there is dilemma in responding to requests such as signatory support for federal nominees and legislation, and positions on forage utilization as well as unqualified individuals conducting rangeland inventories for federal agencies. In this case the concern is that SRM involvement may take on a tone of advocacy.
So what position should SRM take while maintaining the reputation as the leader, and most reliable source of scientific information on rangeland resources, while continuing to meet the needs of its members? We welcome your suggestions and feedback. Please feel free to send them to me at Eddie.Alford@asu.edu, or to any of your SRM Officers and Directors.