BLM Montana-Dakotas Success Story

BLM Montana-Dakotas Hosts Rangeland Health Training

By Floyd Thompson, Rangeland Management Specialist, Montana-Dakotas State Office

Rangeland health was the topic of a recent class hosted by the BLM Montana-Dakotas for about 60 students from several agencies and various backgrounds. Students learned about the three attributes of rangeland health – soil/site stability, hydrologic function, and biotic integrity. They also learned about core land health concepts such as ecological sites and watersheds, natural range of variability, resistance and resilience, and states and transitions. Much of the field time was devoted to learning the many steps involved when using the rangeland health assessment protocol.

Bill Volk in the field
Bill Volk, enjoying the field again. Photo by Floyd Thompson, BLM.

A highlight of the training was an assist from retired BLM Soil Scientist Bill Volk. Bill graciously volunteered to help identify some training sites and share his vast wealth of Eastern Montana soils experience. In addition to BLM personnel, folks from the Agricultural Research Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service and local conservation districts attended. They represented several disciplines including range management, biology, ecology, forestry, hydrology, and soils science. Some had been on the job only a few months and were learning the process from ground zero while others with several years of experience came to fine tune and sharpen their skills.

Students learn plant production techniques in the field
Students learn plate production techniques. Photo by Floyd Thompson, BLM.

The training cadre consisted of experienced individuals including Mike Pellant, Nika Lepak, Pat Shaver, Beth Newingham, Jeff Herrick, Emily Kachergis, David Toledo, Gregg Riegel, and Fee Busby. The trainers were learning as well as some of the cadre are leaving the group as other newer folks replace them. The class was held at Billings Field Office Range Technician Stormy Fink’s family ranch by Huntley. A big thank you is extended to Stormy and her family for providing the field sites.