Half the Time, Precipitation is Below Average

I’m probably nitpicking. Recently, I read several statements about precipitation and how it “should’ affect stocking rate of livestock in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. (GSENM).

“The precipitation analysis above shows that more than half the years are below normal, therefore, ESI data should be adjusted to reflect below normal precipitation years for determining pounds/acre of available forage.” From: May 2014 GSENM Livestock Grazing Public Comments MMP-A/EIS B-43

“Average year precipitation and plant production occurs (during below average years such as occur nearly half the time in GSENM, plant productivity will be significantly reduced and this should be taken into account in setting annual stocking rates).” From: Catlin, J, Carter, J and Jones, A. 2003. Appendix B: A science-based tool for assessing available forage and grazing capacity of GSENM grazing allotments to meet rangeland health standards.

The obviousness of the above statements should be apparent. Precipitation data usually has a normal distribution. In other words, if the data were graphed the graph would look like a bell curve. With a normal distribution, half the years it will be below the average and half the time it will be above average. It shouldn’t be shocking to anyone that “half the time” or “nearly half the time” precipitation will be below average in most areas not just GSENM. I’m not really certain why these statements were even made, but please don’t be outraged if half the time anything is below the average.

When Does Science Become Advocacy?

Advoacy and Policy
The graphic presents examples of actions that scientists take in conducting and reporting research. Listed actions on the left represent actions of policy advocacy, those on the right do not, and the center is a gray area. This is an adaptation of policy advocacy graphic and article by Scott et. al (2007). Click on the photo to make it larger.

In the applied sciences, normative science is a type of information that is developed, presented, or interpreted based on an assumed, usually unstated, preference for a particular policy.

Scott, J. M., Rachlow, J. L., Lackey, R. T., Pidgorna, A. B., Aycrigg, J. L., Feldman, G. R., … & Steinhorst, R. (2007). Policy advocacy in science: prevalence, perspectives, and implications for conservation biologists.Conservation Biology, 21(1), 29-35.

What is Rangeland Management?

Rangeland (n) – All land in the world that is not cultivated farmland, dense forest, barren desert, or covered by solid rock. Rangeland supports indigenous vegetation that either is grazed or has the potential to be grazed. It is managed as a natural ecosystem. Rangeland cannot be cultivated due to climate, availability of water, soils, and topography. Rangeland includes grassland, grazable forestland, deserts, semi-deserts, shrubland and pastureland. Range is not a use. (adj.) it modifies resources, products, activities, and practices pertaining to rangeland.

Range Management is a distinct discipline founded on ecological principles and dealing with the use of rangelands and range resources for a variety of purposes. Many range managers work for the federal government, since public lands must be managed for multiple-use. Public rangelands must be managed for: wildlife habitat, domestic livestock grazing, recreation, clean water, native plants, prevention of invasive species and the list goes on. Public rangelands are often embroiled in lawsuits over livestock grazing, wild horses and threatened and endangered species—just to name a few.

Who owns rangelands? Rangelands in West are owned and managed by federal, state and private entities. The western side of the United States is 53% rangeland. Around 399 million acres of rangeland are privately owned. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages about 167 million acres of publicly owned rangeland, with the United States Forest Service (USFS) managing approximately 95 million acres.

Want more information? Try the links below

Rangelands Overview

Accounting for the World’s Rangelands – an article about Rangelands