New U-Idaho Rangeland Center Collaborative Resource for Conservation, Stewardship

Friday, September 2 2011


MOSCOW, Idaho – Rangelands cover half of Idaho, half of the West and half of the globe. They affect the ecological health and economic livelihood of the state and region. The challenges that face rangelands are complex and large-scale, and require integrative thinking and innovative practices to maintain and restore these lands and the human communities that rely on them.

To address these challenges, the University of Idaho has created a new, collaborative resource. The Rangeland Center, formally launched Aug. 19, is not a place or a building. It is a group of people that will collectively advance the understanding and stewardship of rangelands.

Through the combined efforts of the University of Idaho College of Natural Resources, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and University of Idaho Extension, the virtual center promotes active partnerships with individuals, organizations and communities who work and live on these expansive, iconic and economically important western landscapes.

“The Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission is proud to continue working with the University of Idaho on a myriad of rangeland educational and research projects,” said Gretchen Hyde, executive director of the Idaho Rangeland Resource Commission. “This enhanced partnership will benefit the health of the rangeland, wildlife and ranch families who work to care for the land.”

The Rangeland Center will provide a variety of services and products to those interested in rangeland conservation and management, including workshops, informative web pages, student projects, research papers, and tools that will support decision making.

Exploring methods, such as fire breaks or gaps in dried grasses to control wildfire along Idaho’s Boise/Mountain Home corridor, is one example of a current issue the center will address to benefit land owners and managers.

Researchers with many specialties work together to counter the damaging effects of cheatgrass. The weedy invader fuels intense fires that explode across the state’s sagebrush steppe rangelands.

“I am very excited to work with 23 researchers and educators whose vast mix of expertise will create a new synergy to develop science and solutions for the range,” said Karen Launchbaugh, U-Idaho professor of rangeland ecology and management, who spearheads the center.

“Issues facing rangelands today are broad and interrelated,” added Neil Rimbey, University of Idaho Extension range economist and agriculture professor. “The center will have an advisory board that we expect will raise real-life issues and will integrate the teaching, research and extension of our land-grant institution.”

Kurt Pregitzer, dean of the College of Natural Resources, says the center “is a very positive and innovative way to emphasize the importance of rangelands to Idaho’s culture and economy. And, it embodies the university’s land grant mission to address strategic local issues such as this.”

Those needing assistance with a rangeland issue may contact the Rangeland Center at (208)885-6536.
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About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. Learn more: www.uidaho.edu.