Botanical surveys are often used to guide stewardship on conservation lands. This paper gives practical, feasible guidance to help botanists collect key grazing data as part of their surveys. This would give important information to help managers track and assess the connection between grazing practices and botanical results, and make data-driven recommendations for grazing adjustments.
Guidelines for Residual Dry Matter on Coastal and Foothill Rangelands in California (Bartolome et al 2006)
Residual dry matter (RDM) is a standard used by land management agencies for assessing the level of grazing use on annual rangeland and associated savannas and woodlands. RDM is the old herbaceous plant material left standing or on the ground at the beginning of a new growing season. It indicates the combined effects of the previous season’s forage production, breakdown over summer, and its consumption by grazing animals of all types. Properly managed RDM protects soil health and promotes forage production and biodiversity. These guidelines provide the current standard for RDM minimums for different grassland types, slopes, and tree canopy cover.
Monitoring Annual Grassland Residual Dry Matter: A Mulch Manager's Guide for Monitoring Success (Guenther and Hayes 2008) Order a copy
This user-friendly, highly practical booklet provides the whys and hows of RDM monitoring, and includes a photo guide showing what different RDM levels look like in the field.
Photo-Monitoring for Better Land Use Planning and Assessment (McDougald et al 2003)
There are many ways to monitor change on the landscape, but none is simpler than photo-monitoring and recording observations. This publication will help landowners develop a photo-monitoring program for their property. Photo monitoring is a valuable tool for documenting your management as well as conditions or events that affect your management. Photo points are easily established. You may already have old family pictures that illustrate how the property, a stream, or facilities looked in the past. New photographs of the scenes in these old photos provide one good way to get started with your photo monitoring program. If you have no old ranch photos, now is a good time to start developing a photographic record for your own benefit and for the benefit of those who follow you as ranch managers or owners.
Developing a Monitoring Project for Riparian Revegetation Projects (Lewis et al 2009)
Increasing native vegetation along the banks of streams and rivers is one of the principal stewardship tools land use managers have to conserve, restore, and protect soil and water resources. UC Cooperative Extension has developed this publication to assist you in developing a riparian restoration monitoring program that addresses both planted vegetation and the resulting ecological functions. Our recommendations are applicable at either the initial stage of project design, after project implementation or, ideally, at both stages and into the future to document project result trajectories.
Visual Assessment of Riparian Health (Ward et al. 2003). Read Paper
There are numerous ways to document a riparian area, ranging from simple photographs to more in-depth, cross-sectional surveys. Visual assessments can be a straight-forward and simple method for rangeland managers in making a rough evaluation of the overall health of riparian areas. Visual assessments are not intended to be comprehensive, data-driven evaluations, nor are they intended to be monitoring tools for the long-term documentation of riparian health. The power of a visual assessment is that it provides a simple and rapid tool that allows a local manager to make a timely and cost-effective evaluation of the overall health of the riparian area(s). If the initial visual assessment indicates a problem, a more detailed analysis can be performed to identify the likely cause(s), the possible linkage of the problem to management (current, past, or upstream) or natural disturbances (floods, fires, etc.), the possible change in management to correct the problem, and the type of monitoring needed to document that the problem has been corrected or needs additional management effort. In a minimal amount of time, managers can be trained in the prudent use of visual assessment methods, thus greatly increasing the number of California’s rangeland riparian areas being assessed and managed.