Developing tools for rangeland sustainability

Rangelands across the world provide important ecosystem services to society; thus the need to develop management strategies that promote ecological and economic sustainability. Yet, application of sustainability to the rangelands of the western United States has been fraught with conflict. In most cases, the management of natural resources has been government-mandated and expert-driven. This has limited the ability of managers and scientists under this new paradigm to effectively translate scientific and technical information to the rest of the public, often leading to public resistance and resentment.

We see an immediate need for ecological and social science to derive and disseminate information that will help focus and perhaps resolve the impasse over grazing impacts and other natural resource issues. Based on our involvement in "collaborative management teams" that include ranchers, environmentalists, public servants, and interested citizens, we have shaped an experimental research program that would be impossible to execute without the involvement of divergent interests in the grazing debate.