California Certified Rangeland Manager Program
The intent of California's Certified Rangeland Manager Program is toprovide evidence of professional competency, to protect the public interest,and to ensure proper management of the state's rangeland resources as embodiedin the Code of Professional Ethics of the Society for Range Management.The need to create this program arose from a series of California legislationand legal interpretation of those acts.
In 1972 the Professional Foresters Licensing Act (PFLA) was adopted,which broadly defined forestry and required a state license (RegisteredProfessional Forester or RPF) to practice forestry. In 1987 the ProfessionalForesters Licensing Committee appointed a task force to examine the roleof RPFs on hardwood rangeland (oak woodland, annual rangeland). The taskforcdetermined that state law (PFLA) required an RPF to supervise wildlandmanagement. The implication was that range managers must be licensed asa forester or work under the supervision of an RPF. The following year theState Board of Forestry appointed an ad hoc Hardwood Range Committee toreexamine this issue. The Committee agreed with the task force findingsbut suggested clarified definitions of legal terms, application of revised,regulations, and, possible, changes in the PFLA to provide opportunitiesfor non-forestry professional practice. The State Attorney General renderedan opinion in 1990 that "forest" and "wildland" aresynonyms, therefore, rangeland management was legally considered forestry,requiring supervision of an RPF.
In response the California Section, Society for Range Management, appointeda Panel on Certification to develop certification criteria and procedures,and to certify rangeland managers. In 1992 California Assembly Bill 1903modified the PFLA to authorize individuals to seek Board of Forestry registrationunder a professional society's program. In 1993 the California Section'sPanel on Certification finalized their program for certification. This processwas presented to, and accepted by, the State Board of Forestry. The nextyear the California Code of Regulations was amended to allow state licensingof Certified Rangeland Managers under PFLA and redefined the scope of PFLAas applying to "forested landscapes." Forested landscapes weredefined as "tree dominated landscapes and their associated vegetationtypes which are naturally capable of growing a significant amount of nativetrees." The interpretation of this description has been that a 10 percentnative tree cover (or the potential) constitutes a forested landscape. Thus,hardwood rangeland (oak woodland) within the State are clearly included.
The Section began certifying rangeland managers in 1995. To call yourselfa Certified Rangeland Manager one must first by certified by the Section,then become licensed by the State. Certification by the Section requiresmeeting educational and experience requirements, having letters of referenceprovided, and passing a written rangeland management examination. Applicantsmust have completed a course of study in a college or university leadingto a bachelor's or higher degree. The degree must be in range management,or include course work in rangeland ecology, rangeland plant physiology,rangeland animal management, rangeland policy and planning, range economics,and rangeland measurements. Applicants must have five ars of experiencedirectly related to range and/or rangeland management and include demonstrationof the application of rangeland management principles. Preferably, at leasttwo years of this experience will be in a California range type. Applicantsmust also provide three letters of reference attesting to their qualifications,one of which must be from a Certified Rangeland Manager. Proof of educationand experience, and the letters of reference must be provided to the Section'sPanel on Certification. The Panel must determined that the applicant meetsthe requirements before the person is permitted to take the written examination.
The written examination is prepared by the Panel on Certification andadministered by the State's Professional Foresters Licensing Committee.The exam consists of short answer and essay questions on rangeland ecology,plant physiology, animal management, policy and planning, economics, andmeasurement Questions are targeted toward rangeland management in California.The exam is offered one or more times a year at several locations throughoutthe state.
Those passing the exam become certified by the California Section. Thisdoes not entitle the person to call themselves a Certified Rangeland Manager,nor to be legally recognized as such. This requires licensing by the Stateof California. Fortunately, the State has accepted the Section's processas meeting their licensing requirements, thus, licensing is a formality.The Section certified individual applies to State for a license and paysan annual fee of $35. The person may then call themselves a Certified RangelandManager.
A state license is required for range management activities on forestedlandscapes as described earlier. A license is clearly required for workon areas such as hardwood rangeland, and mountain meadows (as their areassociated with conifer forests), but not on permanently tree-less shrublands,native or cultivated grasslands, or croplands. Activities covered includemaking management recommendations, developing conservation plans and managementplans, and other activities associated with professional rangeland management.Professionals working in the private sector, universities, state agencies,and federal agencies when working on non-federal lands, must be licensed.Licensing is not required for activities on your own land (when you areconducting the activities) nor for federal land.
The California Section has certified approximately 90 individuals. About60 of these have been licensed by the State. The role of this process, andCertified Rangeland Mangers, is still evolving. The California Section andthe State Board of Forestry's Professional Foresters Examining Committeeare working together to clarify the effect of the laws and regulations.
prepared and edited by Richard B. Standiford