4C's Voluntary Monitoring Program Grazing permittees are monitoring their own rangeland, thanks to a pilot project initiated by the Pinedale Field Office. The 4C's Voluntary Monitoring Program was launched through Secretary Gale Norton's 4 C's award. The one-time funding was designed to get this monitoring program off the ground.
It coincides perfectly with a recent Memorandum of Understanding between BLM and the Public Lands Council that recognizes the value in permittee involvement in rangeland studies.
In this day of increasing interest in public land use, ranchers have realized the value in basing land management decisions on sound scientific data. BLM has specialists that traditionally have collected this information, but with an increasing workload in land use planning and environmental analysis, these same specialists often do not have enough field time to conduct rangeland monitoring.
Ranchers spend as much time, if not more, on their BLM allotments. With a little training in forage use, plant identification and how to set up a photo trend plot, the permittees can not only save the range management specialists some time, but more importantly, gain an understanding of what the science is all about.
Enough cannot be said about how this produces a sense of ownership in the allotments, not to mention the increased communication and trust between range users and managers. This initiative is designed so that the BLM specialists assist in the monitoring, or at a minimum, are familiar enough with the allotment conditions that objectivity is maintained.
As one rancher put it, "…if something's wrong out there we want to know, and we'll do what has to be done to make it right."
There's room for the protocol to develop so look for more to come in 2005. Hopefully, ranchers throughout Wyoming will take an interest in the program and range specialists will encourage others to participate where the potential exists.