Daily News Reports »

Russell Nemetz ASI Request for Research Project at U.S. Sheep Experiment Station
by Russell Nemetz, click here for bio

Program: Land & Livestock Report
Date: February 21, 2019

Click on the play button to listen to report.

Download Report: ASI_Request_for_Research_Project_at_U.S._Sheep_Experiment_Station.mp3

The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) requests the USDA Agricultural Research Service U.S. Sheep Experiment Station (USSES) conduct a long-term study to research the effects of removing livestock grazing management on rangeland and forest health. We propose that this study be conducted using part of the USSES’s infrastructure along the Idaho-Montana divide in the Centennial Mountains, often referred to as the West and East Summer ranges consisting of the USDA, ARS grazing properties: Odell Creek, Big Mountain, and Toms Creek.

As the largest and oldest stakeholder and primary beneficiary of the research conducted at USSES, ASI believes this proposed research would further elucidate the benefits of livestock grazing on rangelands and forests towards sustaining and improving range health and vibrant wildlife populations. Our contention based on centuries of animal husbandry is that the best managed lands are those that benefit from responsible livestock grazing. Livestock grazing reduces fuel loads for wildfire, hinders encroachment of woody species, and controls noxious weeds and annual grasses, thus allowing native flora and fauna to persist and grow. While experience in the field and limited trials verify this, we believe the aforementioned rangelands of the USSES are the best place to verify the effect and impact of a “no management scenario,” by temporarily removing your current responsible livestock-grazing program that has been occurring for nearly 100 years. With over a century of vegetation, climate, and grazing data on these lands, there is no other facility in the world better equipped to undertake such an important long-term study.

I want to make it clear that ASI, as the primary stakeholder, is not advocating that this study should be conducted in perpetuity nor asking USSES to forfeit any grazing research on those lands at the conclusion of this study. We believe that at the end of the requested study, the data will support the necessity of livestock grazing to sustain and improve rangeland and forest health and diversity. However, should the data indicate otherwise, we would support a land-management research agenda based on the study results. Additionally, ASI is not asking that any of the current research projects being conducted at the USSES be affected negatively by this request. For over 100 years, the sheep industry has relied upon the grazing, wildlife, genetic and animal-care research being conducted by USSES. We see this request as complimentary to those efforts and ask that it be conducted in cooperation with those priorities. We understand USSES is understaffed and other neutral and unbiased cooperators may be needed to carry out this research. We know the USSES has many of these relationships already with land grant universities across the West and commit our support to the success of this project.

ASI will seek and work with cooperating stakeholders in the grazing and conservation communities to support this research and outcomes.

Recent Reports from Land & Livestock Report

Click here to see Archived Reports