Making the plan
Leading up to our rapid assessment, our team had the opportunity to sit down and talk to many professionals with varying focuses in range management. We participated in classes over varying topics. After learning from so many people we sat down to develop a plan for our rapid assessment. To develop this plan, we discussed what aspects of our learning could be applied, and how we could use this knowledge to get a baseline analysis of the Currant Creek Ranch Property. We utilized maps, books, and professionals to aid us in the development of our plan.
We decided our plan should focus primarily on the riparian area because it receives the most pressure from cattle and other grazing animals. We split the property into three sections. With potential time constraints in mind we chose to start with the areas that received the heaviest use. Through our discussions we covered many ways to collect data. Three of these were chosen to gather accurate wholistic data of the property, with pictures of each point. These strategies are as follows:
– Line Point Intercept
– Aerial and basal cover within a 1/4m2 frame
After establishing our plan, we gathered the materials we needed, and made data sheets to utilize out in the field.
In the Field
Upon arriving at the site, we decided to take measurements of the creek to establish a baseline of health for it in addition to our other data. We measured bank full width, and depth of the stream at each transect. As a team we went through a couple practice round of collecting data to ensure e were all on the same page. We then started recording data at each transect up property. After maneuvering through greasewood, cheat grass, and willows we had made it through the lower part of the property. Moving onto the next area we continued in the same way. We ran into various obstacles throughout the monitoring process where we had to adjust our protocol. For example, in the upper area of the property we ran into some braided streams. In these areas we increased our number of transects in the area to get a representative set of data for that specific area. In addition, we decided to photograph active, and inactive beaver damns, if beaver restoration to the area is considered by the stakeholders.
The ranch crew experience from planning, to completion was a great experience. It allowed all participants to learn many things and grow as individuals. We utilized problem solving skills, and many other skills through the intensive week of monitoring.