RNG 341 Oregon State Impacts of Recreation in Moab Utah Area

In lieu of a final project you will reflect on each module/week of the course then apply the concepts covered in the course to write a your thoughts on how to address ONE of the scenarios below. Your thoughts on the scenario should reflect a large portion of what we’ve covered in this course… terms, concepts, tools, etc. You do NOT have to cite anything or arrange the reflection in any formal manner.

Your reflection will be graded on the degree you tie the scenario to course material:

  • number of terms, concepts, and tools applied to scenario
  • application of those terms, concepts and tools (i.e. are they appropriately applied)

Scenario 1: Wild Horses in Nevada

One of the most high profile and contentious BLM & USFS responsibilities is managing wild horses and burros. The management of these animals is governed by the Wild Horse and Burro Act of 1971. In recent years the overpopulation and concomitant ecological and economic impacts of these animals has placed great strain on the animals, the land, and all stakeholders.

You are making rounds with a co-worker in Western Nevada and see a horse staggering across the road in the distance. Both you and co-worker take a deep breath because you know this horse is likely in rough shape because of the lack of forage in the area. This sparks a discussion about the conundrum of how to manage the over population of wild horses and maintain the ecological integrity of the land. You wonder aloud if the 10,000 acres under your management that only produces approximately 678 lbs/acre of forage can support approximately 275 horses, 150 pronghorn, 300 black-tail deer, and the grazing lease on which the rancher who holds the lease wants to put out 325 head of cattle. As you drive along you notice that in between the shrubs is clear evidence of soil erosion and an increasing abundance of invasive species. Along the small creek the riparian areas has sparse vegetation because the soil is marred with extensive hoof prints. As you head back to the office you slow to allow three off-road vehicles to zoom by.

Support Materials:

BLM Website, National Wild Horse and Burro Program (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

National Research Council. 2013. Using Science to Improve the BLM Wild Horse and Burro Program: (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
A Way Forward, (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. National Academies Press, WDC.

Davies, et al. 2014. Effects of feral free-roaming horses on semi-arid rangeland ecosystems: an example from the sagebrush steppe (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. Ecosphere 5(10):127

Scenario 2: Impacts of Recreation in the Moab, Utah Area

Outdoor recreation is a $650-billion industry that supports 2.3-million jobs in the Western US and is the economic engine of many small communities. Most of the activity occurs on federally managed land. The ecological, economic, and social impacts of recreation are so substantial that the discipline of recreation ecology has emerged.

You are the owner/operator of an outfitter business (rafting, back-country adventures, campground, fishing expeditions, etc.) in Moab, Utah. In recent years you have noticed considerable ecological degradation because of recreational overuse, and this degradation is reducing the quality of experience you can offer your customers… and its showing in the number of bookings and your net profits. You chat with other recreation business owners and find they are noticing and experiencing the same thing as you and they ask you how they should go about thinking about the issue and what suggestions you have for approaching it. One fellow business owner is also a rancher and reminds the group that cattle graze the area, and this is pronghorn summer habitat.

Support Materials:

Lovich, J., & Bainbridge, D. 1999. Anthropogenic Degradation of the Southern California Desert Ecosystem and Prospects for Natural Recovery and Restoration (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. Environmental Management, 24(3), 309-326.

Brooks, J., & Champ, J. 2006. Understanding the Wicked Nature of “Unmanaged Recreation” in Colorado’s Front Range (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..Links to an external site. Environmental Management,38(5), 784-798.

Monz, C. et al. 2013. Recent advances in recreation ecology and the implications of different relationships between recreation use and ecological impacts. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 11(8), 441-446.

Scenario 3: Sage Grouse Habitat in Oregon and Idaho

You are a program coordinator for the Center for Biological Diversity (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.(CBD) asked to spearhead development of a proposal to address the dwindling population of Sage Grouse in Oregon and Idaho. You know that the viability of Sage Grouse is very closely tied with the integrity of sagebrush steppe ecosystems. However urbanization, recreation, grazing, and invasives species and woody species encroachment is dramatically reducing the availability and integrity of sage grouse habitat. You focus your campaign around balancing land uses. You select a pilot project area that encompasses 5,000 acres that produces 3,102 lbs/acre of forage which needs to provide for 350 head of cattle, approximately 125 pronghorn, 285 black-tail deer, 75 wintering elk, and 60 wild horses. Within the 5000 acres is an designated off-road vehicle recreation, and a popular hiking/camping area. The pilot project area is adjacent to an expanding town, and a number of ranches that produce hay.

Support Materials:

Sage Grouse Initiative (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. website.

Sage Grouse Initiative & USDA, NRCS. 2015. Sagebrush Songbirds Benefit from Sage Grouse Habitat Restoration. Science to Solution.

USGS Sagebrush Steppe and Sage Grouse (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. website.

SageStep (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. website.

Scenario 4: Rangeland Conversion to Cropland or Subdivisions in Intermountain Region

You are the county natural resource specialist for a town in the intermountain region of the Western US. The town was once a ranching community, but turned to tourism to survive 20 years ago during an economic down turn. The ranchers on the outskirts of town own large swaths of land on which they historically ran successful ranching operations, but today they are struggling and under pressure to either expand agricultural operations or sell their land to make way for the expanding footprint of the town. What should county planners be thinking about as they strategize on how to keep the rural quality of the area and lifestyle while ensuring the economic growth and viability of the town?

Support Materials:

Cameron DR, Marty J, Holland RF (2014) Whither the Rangeland?: Protection and Conversion in California’s Rangeland Ecosystems (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. PLoS ONE 9(8)

Heimlich and Anderson. 2001. Development at the Urban Fringe and BeyondLinks to an external site.. Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Agricultural Economic Report No. 803.

Wortman-Wunder, E. 2012. Do Subdivisions Designed for Conservation Actually Help WildlifeLinks to an external site.. High Country News.

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