Policies, Positions, and Resolutions of the Society for Range Management
The Society for Range Management International Board of Directors has adopted Policy Statements, Position Statements, and Resolutions. As of May 2000, the following have been adopted.
Desertification is a permanent or semi-permanent reduction in the capability of land for biological productivity. Over long periods of time, desertification may result from change to a more arid climate. Desertification also occurs because of irreversible reduction in the ability of the soil to supply moisture and/or nutrients to vegetation. On rangelands, soil erosion by wind or water is the most common cause for loss of soil productivity, although permanent degradation of soil structure, nutrient loss, or salinization are other possible causes. Permanent loss of soil productivity may result from natural processes or human activity.
The Society for Range Management advocates use and management of rangelands to provide sustainable benefits for people. Rangeland management should aim to prevent desertification resulting from human activity and, where feasible, to stabilize or improve productivity of lands which have already suffered such desertification. Rangeland managers should seek to identify and understand desertification processes resulting from all causes, and if possible, to mitigate adverse impacts of such processes.
A continuing need exists for people formally educated in range management to play a major role in decisions regarding the management of rangelands. The Society promotes education providing expertise in the climate-soil-plant-animal complex in relation to human needs and uses of the resources.
The Society promotes international development and dissemination of range management knowledge and sound management of rangelands worldwide. The Society maintains liaison with relevant professional organizations around the world.
The Society supports appropriately planned and monitored livestock grazing based on scientific principles that meet management goals and societal needs.
Range management programs must consider possible effects on environmental quality. The Society advocates measures which enhance beneficial effects and minimize detrimental effects consistent with reasonable and prudent use of the rangeland resources.
The Society believes that rangeland ecosystems should be managed to provide optimum sustained yield of tangible and intangible products and benefits for human welfare. This can only be achieved through the sound use of ecological and economic principles.
The Society supports managing combinations of rangeland uses, which best meet the needs and desires of people and are compatible with the adaptability of the land. Multiple use management, where appropriate, is encouraged on both public and private lands.
Rangelands, a broad category of land comprising more than 40% of the earth's land area, are characterized by native plant communities, which are often associated with grazing, and are managed by ecological, rather than agronomic methods.
The term 'range' can also include forestlands that have a grazing resource, or seeded lands that are managed like rangeland. Range resources are not limited to the grazable forage, but may include wildlife, water and many other benefits.
The Society promotes the use of valid resource inventories as basic requirements for planning and management of rangeland resources.
The Society for Range Management recognizes the need for adequate and sustained public and private support of rangeland research programs. Funding is also needed for prompt synthesis, dissemination and implementation of research results to serve the growing needs of managers with diverse objectives in diverse rangeland ecosystems.
The Society supports strong programs based on long-term planning in both basic and applied rangeland research and prompt dissemination of results.
Rangelands constitute a large portion of the water producing land area of the earth. The Society promotes rangeland management that results in healthy ecosystems which enhance the quality of water and minimize soil erosion and sedimentation.
Rangelands provide habitat for many species of wildlife. The Society promotes ecologically sound wildlife management integrated with range management to maintain or restore desired wildlife habitat.
The Society for Range Management affirms that consideration of biological diversity is important and appropriate when developing land management objectives. The Society advocates research, education, and development of management technologies regarding the role of biological diversity in rangeland ecosystems.
Biological diversity is the variety and variability of the world's organisms, the ecological complexes in which they occur and the processes and life support services they mediate. Biological diversity is a complex phenomenon influenced by the kinds of organisms (i.e. plants, animals, microbes), their genetic variation, spatial distribution (e.g. ecosystem, landscape, regional, global), structural organization (e.g. vertical stratification) and functional role (e.g. nutrient and water cycling, energy flow). Biological diversity varies in time and space and is influenced by many natural processes and management activities. It can be expressed in many different way including richness, evenness, community processes and organization structure. No one expression is intrinsically superior to another. No single expression of biological diversity is sufficient nor is one scale of consideration paramount.
There is no simple relationship between biological diversity and properties of ecological systems such as stability for all rangeland sites. Loss of biological diversity, however, may reduce future land use options and the ability to maintain sustainable systems. Biological diversity is of fundamental importance to the operation of ecological processes and directly provides for human wants and needs.
The Society for Range Management recognizes the value of biological diversity to ecosystem structure and function and promotes the inclusion of biological diversity in the array of facts to be considered in rangeland ecosystems. Maximizing biological diversity is not always possible or desirable at all levels of biological or spatial organization. Management for biological diversity should focus at the landscape level of organization or higher. This recognizes the natural mosaic pattern of ecosystems within landscapes associated with various in biotic and abiotic factors and disturbance regimes.
The Society for Range Management supports the concept of sustainable rangeland ecosystems consistent with reasonable and prudent use. A detrimental effect to achieving this goal has been the conversion of highly erodible lands from rangeland to cropland. The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) has been successful in achieving soil conservation, clean water, clean air and enhanced wildlife habitat.
The Society advocates that productive, sustainable, economically and ecologically sound management systems be developed and applied on all CRP lands. This should be accomplished by keeping highly erodible lands in permanent vegetation cover. The Society also supports a strong education and information program so CRP contract holders can make informed land use and management decisions and expanded technical assistance programs that ensure all CRP producers receive conservation planning in a timely manner.
Further, if CRP continued, then,
The Society for Range Management recognizes two kinds of fires exist: Prescribed fire and wildfires. Prescribed fires may be ignited or naturally caused and permitted to burn within specific conditions to achieve established management objectives. Fires outside of prescription are wildfires and appropriate suppression actions should be taken. The Society supports the concept of prescribed fires as a useful management practice. To exclude fire either as a natural force or as a management tool means that we accept a highly unnatural ecological environment.
Integrated pest management should be used as necessary and possible to rehabilitate range resources and/or control specific plant or animal pests. The Society supports such practices when ecologically, economically, and socially sound.
Properly managed livestock grazing is a sustainable form of agriculture and is compatible with a wide array of other sustainable uses of rangeland. the Society recognizes the cultural and economic importance of livestock grazing especially to rural communities. Livestock grazing is an efficient method for converting low quality forages to high quality agricultural products that supply human needs worldwide. Managed grazing may be used for expediting desired changes in the structure and function of rangeland ecosystems. Livestock grazing can be complementary and synergistic with other rangeland restoration technologies. Livestock grazing may not be appropriate on certain fragile and highly erodible lands; the removal of livestock grazing on other lands may be of no benefit.
The Society for Range Management recognizes that native or exotic noxious and invasive plants have a major debilitating effect on rangelands and other grazed ecosystems world-wide. Noxious and invasive plants threaten biological diversity, and the structure, function, and sustainability of ecosystems. They diminish the multiple uses and values these ecosystems are intrinsically capable of providing.
The Society promotes:
The Society believes it is ecologically and economically sound to prevent the arrival of noxious and invasive plants into new areas, and that the next best solution is to detect new outbreaks before seed production occurs and to initiate aggressive eradication efforts. Established infestations of noxious and invasive plants should be contained and controlled with integrated management systems that utilize mechanical, chemical, biological, or cultural control technologies. Neither single-treatment approaches nor short-term efforts will result in satisfactory long-term solutions to noxious and invasive plant problems. The affected ecosystems and their native or desired species should be restored and protected after noxious and invasive plants have been controlled.
Rangelands possess natural beauty and other aesthetic values. The Society supports the concept that range management activities should not detract from aesthetic values of rangelands and may often enhance them.
Several kinds of off-road vehicles are used on rangelands to implement range management systems and for recreational purposes. The Society supports operation of these vehicles in a manner that protects the range resources and minimizes conflicts with other uses.
Domestic livestock grazing is a useful management tool to bring about desired changes in certain plant communities including tree plantations. The Society encourages and endorses continued research and development of plantation grazing as a method of achieving desired timber management goals. Emphasis should be placed on the importance of integrating silvicultural, wildlife, and livestock grazing management in order to more efficiently meet resource management objectives.
Government agencies must bear responsibility for sound resource management and equitable, ethical work force management. The Society for Range Management supports the principles of work force diversity and equal employment opportunity, but in achieving these principles, professional qualifications in natural resource disciplines must be retrained and positive educational requirements be maintained for positions with responsibility for making natural resource decisions as well as professional and scientific positions.
The Society for Range Management recognizes the agriculture industry as a critical element in maintaining private land ownership in a changing society. Public land grazing is often associated with this private land base, which provides valuable resources for multiple use. Changes in use of these private holdings affect the balance of multiple uses and interdependency of resources on public and private land.
A healthy and viable agriculture industry, among other multiple uses, provides incentive for maintaining or enhancing rangeland open space values. Agriculturalist/conservationist partnerships could offer such needed business stability.
The Society supports continued multiple use management of public lands, which are interwoven with private land, in a manner to promote the open space concept.
Rangeland provides recreational opportunities. The Society supports development of recreational opportunities, as appropriate, in range management planning, providing that such use is compatible with other rangeland resource values.
The Society for Range Management recognizes the role of the private land owner as a primary steward of rangelands. The Society supports the right to own and use private property and recognizes that within those rights are imbedded certain responsibilities. These rights should be respected and protected. The Society also recognizes that owners of private rangelands-whether they be individuals, institutions, or commercial businesses-have a vested interest in the condition of their rangelands, an incentive which often leads to maintenance or improvement of the resource.
Privately owned rangelands, and those lands that are ancillary to the sound management of rangeland ecosystems (pasture, haylands, woodlands, and croplands) greatly influence the economic and environmental health of nations throughout the world. These privately owned lands, when thoughtfully managed with stewardship of all resources, serve many beneficial purposes. Included among these are: Healthy watershed function, the retention of the essential habitat for many species, including threatened or endangered plants and animals, and the supply of food and fiber to the work economies.
Private rangeland ownership carries responsibilities. The Society supports rangeland owners in managing their resources, within the context of the whole ecosystem, in such a way as to protect resource health and long-term sustainable production.
The Society for Range Management believes that many uses are compatible with proper riparian area function and riparian values. SRM actively encourages the implementation of management strategies for riparian areas and watersheds that optimize their values while protecting or restoring riparian and watershed function.
Riparian areas are integral components of watersheds that are the transition between aquatic and terrestrial elements of the ecosystem. These lands occur adjacent to streams, springs, seeps and other bodes of surface and subsurface water. Soil moisture content is significantly higher and, in many regions, riparian areas support different plans and animal communities than adjacent uplands.
Complex hydrologic, soil, and biotic relationships in riparian areas are important to watershed function. These functions include flood energy dissipation and sediment capture; groundwater recharge, nutrient cycling and maintenance of water quality. Riparian areas support and depend upon the watershed as a whole.
Riparian areas are essential for structural and biological diversity in the landscape. They offer important habitat elements for fish, wildlife and other organisms. Human health and safety, and aesthetic, economic and recreational opportunities require properly functioning riparian areas.
The Society for Range Management supports the conservation of species and the maintenance and/or restoration of their habitats through the application of sound ecological and economic principles supported by rigorous research. Furthermore, the Society advocates that legislation and laws governing the conservation of species should be implemented and managed in a cooperative manner cognizant of social and economic impacts.
The Society opposes use of the Universal Soil Loss Equation as a determinant of rangeland resource condition, treatment needs, treatment effectiveness, program funding, stocking rates, or any other management or regulatory decisions. The refinement of data is inadequate, thus use of the model is inappropriate to detect the subtle changes in the resource that indicate a need for management changes. Plant composition should be used to indicate early changes in resource condition in these rangeland ecosystems.
The Society for Range Management believes that many rangeland uses are compatible with proper wetland function and values. SRM actively encourages the implementation of management strategies for wetlands that optimize their values while maintaining or restoring the wetland function. This may include restoration techniques when these values have diminished or in creating wetlands where their values are designed.
Wetlands are areas characterized by soils that are usually saturated or ponded (i.e., hydric soils) that support mostly water-loving plants. Wetlands are unique ecosystems that vary in their complexity due to hydrology, soils, climate, animal and plant interactions. The function of wetlands may include water quality enhancement, flood control, nutrient cycling, sediment capture, groundwater recharge and the provision of habitat for a diversity of living organisms.
Wetland values provide for human health and safety, biological diversity, aesthetic, economic, and recreational opportunities which require properly functioning wetland areas.
The Society believes in the practice and enhancement of multiple use values of rangelands, while maintaining basic soil, water and vegetation resources. The Society also believes that a "thriving natural ecological balance" is essential to the health and maintenance of viable wild horse and burro populations.
Therefore, SRM recommends that public land agencies develop the planning, implementation and monitoring of vegetation management that incorporates wild horse management strategies along with other resource demands. Funds saved through the following recommended strategies should be used for the basic resource management in the herd management areas.
The Society for Range Management believes new and innovative herd management strategies
can reduce the number of unadopted wild horses that are removed from the rangelands. These
herd management strategies should include:
The Society for Range Management urges the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service to adopt the use of herd management strategy and explore other cost effective methods.
Wilderness areas are established primarily to preserve ecosystems for purposes of scientific study and wilderness experiences for generations to come. The Society supports the concept of multiple use management, as appropriate, on those wilderness areas.
The Society for Range Management recognizes that private lands commonly supply important wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities. Habitat quality and quantity may be critical factors limiting wildlife populations. Without appropriate incentives, land owners may not devote the necessary resources toward enhancing wildlife habitat and increasing recreational access. Monetary compensations may provide incentives for land owners to incorporate wildlife management as an integral part of their total land management strategy. Further, state, provincial, and federal agencies should be encouraged to provide private land owners with educational programs, technical support, and financial incentives to enhance and sustain productive natural resources on private lands.
With increases in big game numbers on rangelands, there is an increasing potential for conflict between domestic and wild herbivores.
The Society has developed the following position statement: The land management agencies are responsible for habitat management. These legally mandated roles necessitate a cooperative approach to resource planning, management and monitoring with wildlife agencies. This cooperative approach should involve all concerned users, interest groups and land owners. Management goals and population objective numbers should be developed in a consultative manner on a herd unit basis, and management direction incorporated in land and resource management plans.
Land management agencies should establish and implement monitoring of ecological status of the range resource influenced by annual herbivore use.
Land management agencies must cooperate with wildlife agencies to insure consistency and compatibility of data used in determining range vegetation status and wildlife population trends.
Adequate funding must be provided to support achievement of land and resource management plan goals and objectives.
Adequate funding and staffing must be provided for collection, analysis, and interpretation of ecological status and trends towards meeting plan objectives.
Timely land resource decisions should be based on the best and most current data. It is in the best interest of basic resource management to make decisions with the best available data.
The processes on rangelands are dynamic thus making it impossible to directly measure carrying capacity for herbivores. Carrying capacity is dependent on the characteristics of the range resource, management intensity, management objectives and related variables. In the absence of other information, rangeland inventories done at one point in time can be used to provide general estimates of present or potential carrying capacity of management units. Such estimates are based upon many attributes including topography, ecological sites, present vegetation, water distribution and other measurable factors. These estimates should be combined with animal intake, diet preference, animal distribution and other similar attributes to evaluate carrying capacity. Carrying capacity estimates based upon one-point-in-time rangeland inventories do not produce results of sufficient accuracy to be the sole basis for adjusting time of grazing or stocking rates on specific grazing units. Carrying capacity should instead be based on impacts of historical and current stocking rates, grazing management, and weather. Adjustments in carrying capacity should be made through monitoring over time to ensure progress toward desired resource conditions.
WHEREAS, the Society for Range Management supports the concept of sustainable rangeland
ecosystems consistent with reasonable and prudent use; AND
WHEREAS, the Society for Range Management supports the conservation of species and the
maintenance and/or restoration of their habitats through the application of sound
ecological and economic principles supported by rigorous research; and
WHEREAS, the Society for Range Management supports the conservation of species and
their habitats and recognizes the importance and function of biological diversity, and
WHEREAS, the basic ecological functions and productivity of U.S. pastures, rangelands
and wildlands are being lost to non-indigenous plants (weeds) at an alarming rate; and
l. Make needed changes to the Federal Noxious Weed Act during 1995, including:
2. Provide adequate funding under the Federal Noxious Weed Act to provide for eradication of newly detected weeds and control of widespread infestations on public and private lands.
3. Create a national initiative to document the problem of non-indigenous invasive plants as biological pollutants and to determine a proper course of action to prevent future introduction and spread of non-indigenous invasive plants in ecosystems of the U.S.
WHEREAS, privately held rangelands are a broad land category of approximately 400
million acres within the United States, characterized by native plant communities that are
often grazed by domestic livestock and wildlife species, and that are managed by
ecological, rather than agronomic methods; and
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