Stepping Out of the Steppe—Rachel Renne

As temperatures climbed this summer, so did the elevations of the plots that I visited. My gradual ascent was an attempt to capture the plant community of each site at a time when I would be able to detect and identify most of the plant species. Higher elevations mean lower temperatures, and while many grasses Read more about Stepping Out of the Steppe—Rachel Renne[…]

Why study outdoor recreation in the American West?—Mara MacDonell

Industry, based on landscape, has been foundational to the American West’s cultural and ideological underpinnings since the beginning of colonization. While natural resource extraction industries (mining, logging, ranching, agriculture) spurred westward expansion and continues to be a significant industry in the West, a new industry is of increasing importance, outdoor recreation. Both the extraction and Read more about Why study outdoor recreation in the American West?—Mara MacDonell[…]

Place, People, and Politics: A Short Reflection on a Summer of Research and Rivers in the American West—Mara MacDonell

Over the course of 14 days this August, I traveled down the calm waters of Labyrinth and Stillwater Canyons of the Green River and the raucous and roiling waters of Cataract Canyon on the Colorado River. I went on this journey after a summer of conducting interviews and thinking critically about the role of the Read more about Place, People, and Politics: A Short Reflection on a Summer of Research and Rivers in the American West—Mara MacDonell[…]

Gold Underfoot! Soil Organic Matter matters—Raffa Sindoni

Soil is the tapestry upon which all life is weaved. Our water is cleaned through it. Our food rises from it. As young children, our bare feet kiss it. After death, we return back to it. And so, the cycle goes, for time immemorial. Most splendid of all, a full-spectrum of life flourishes in just Read more about Gold Underfoot! Soil Organic Matter matters—Raffa Sindoni[…]

Defining Spring in a Dynamic World—Rob Anderson

What is spring? This may seem like an obvious question, but over the last few months I have come to appreciate that it is not as easy to answer as I once thought. The definition of springtime may change depending on where you are, who you are, and what you deem to be important in Read more about Defining Spring in a Dynamic World—Rob Anderson[…]

Bison Restoration: Pursuing Environmental Justice on the Great Plains—Ross Martin

Bison are a uniquely important species in North America’s past, present, and future. They are a keystone species that maintains and enhances ecological function in grassland ecosystems. Bison long supported Indigenous cultures, and their slaughter enabled the United States’ bloody conquest of the continent. The disappearance of the large herds disrupted human, plant, and wildlife Read more about Bison Restoration: Pursuing Environmental Justice on the Great Plains—Ross Martin[…]

Mapping Rural Gentrification—Lani Chang

CLICK HERE TO VIEW LANI’S STORYMAP Rural gentrification is increasingly recognized as a significant problem for Western amenity towns in the U.S. as a result of rapid in-migration fueled by the desire for closer access to these amenities, expanded telework from the pandemic, and broader nation-wide socioeconomic trends. Corresponding social, economic, and political impacts include Read more about Mapping Rural Gentrification—Lani Chang[…]

What’s Behind Oregon’s New Law Mandating Overtime Pay for Farmworkers and What Might it Mean for Farmers in the State? — Shannon Bell

Labor shortages became very salient in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the agricultural industry has been reckoning with labor shortages and the equity concerns around farm labor conditions for years. One of the primary factors behind both the decline in willing farm labor and the outcry among farmworker advocates has been the Read more about What’s Behind Oregon’s New Law Mandating Overtime Pay for Farmworkers and What Might it Mean for Farmers in the State? — Shannon Bell[…]

The Vital Role of Working Lands in Western Conservation—Annie Miller

Working lands — the farms, ranchlands, and working forests that support livelihoods —  are a vital component of the western landscape, and their ecological, economic, and social  importance is difficult to overstate. In addition to supplying much of the food we eat, they hold critical wildlife habitat, provide vital ecosystem services, and represent a way Read more about The Vital Role of Working Lands in Western Conservation—Annie Miller[…]

Is Oregon’s Land Use System Protecting Farmers? — Shannon Bell

Between 2001 and 2016, 11 million acres of farmland in the United States were developed, with 4.1 million acres converted to urban and highly developed land uses and almost 7 million acres converted to low-density residential use. The 2017 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Census revealed that from 2012 to 2017, the amount of Read more about Is Oregon’s Land Use System Protecting Farmers? — Shannon Bell[…]

Climate Change and Plant Communities: Reshaping Ecosystems for Livestock and Wildlife — Scott Carpenter

During the month of August, I was unfortunate enough to be impacted by two extreme weather events associated with climate change. In Wyoming, multiple field days were cut short due to hazardous air quality resulting from the ongoing wildfires in California and Oregon. While 2020 saw the second highest acreage burned since 1960 (the highest Read more about Climate Change and Plant Communities: Reshaping Ecosystems for Livestock and Wildlife — Scott Carpenter[…]

Global change and root production: how does land use and climate change affect life belowground? — Uthara Vengrai

Roots do everything. They are the connector between plants and soil–the interface at which many of the transactions of life are made. Roots (with the help of their mycorrhizal associates) conduct a plant’s search for nutrients, water, and shelter. They scour the soil for the ingredients of life and support whole ecosystems of microorganisms, plants, Read more about Global change and root production: how does land use and climate change affect life belowground? — Uthara Vengrai[…]

Drought in the West: The Consequences of Variable Forage Production for Open-Range Livestock Operations—Scott Carpenter

During an especially hot and dry summer in Pinedale, Wyoming it’s hard not to reflect on the looming predictions of increasing temperatures and precipitation variability. The two combining to create high-temperature drought conditions, which are becoming more common across the planet. Growing up on the east coast in suburban Virginia, a drought did not mean Read more about Drought in the West: The Consequences of Variable Forage Production for Open-Range Livestock Operations—Scott Carpenter[…]

The importance of a few places and a few organisms: soil methane fluxes in the West—Uthara Vengrai

Drylands cover about 40% of the world and the vast majority of the American West. They are expansive, diverse places all united by one thing: water limitation. These ecosystems are slow to build up carbon and slow to decompose it, which leaves rich pools of old carbon, the majority of which is stored in the Read more about The importance of a few places and a few organisms: soil methane fluxes in the West—Uthara Vengrai[…]

Inherding: The Concept, The Benefits, and its Feasibility—Cally Guasti

If you visit cattle ranches in most of the U.S., you’ll see two kinds of cattle grazing methods: the first is where cattle graze freely on the land, the second is rotational grazing. But on a ranch in May, Idaho, there is a third method, called “inherding.” With the inherding method, cattle are herded on Read more about Inherding: The Concept, The Benefits, and its Feasibility—Cally Guasti[…]