Conservation Plan Helps Texas Rancher Adapt

Lesser Prairie-Chicken

Clay Cooper signed the first Lesser Prairie-Chicken conservation plan in Texas, through the Natural Resources Conservation Service “Working Lands for Wildlife” partnership — an agreement with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. By participating in the grassland management program, he benefits from technical and monetary assistance from NRCS, and, should a bird be accidentally killed, he won’t be held liable for its loss. Awful drought in 2011-2012, plus a wildfire that destroyed 75-80 percent of his grass, caused Cooper to have to disperse a large part of his herd. He discusses both changes to his environment.

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Grazing Management for Lesser Prairie-Chicken

Healthy rangelands help the long-term sustainability of the landowner and the Lesser Prairie-Chicken. Practices that bolster the bird’s habitat are also good for ranching, and can lead to improved rangeland health. NRCS provides technical and cost-assistance for grazing management programs under the Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative.

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Deferred Grazing on Grissom Ranch

Rancher Grady Grissom discusses the lessons he’s learned from deploying a deferred-rotation system of managed grazing on his 14,000-acre ranch. But he doesn’t like the term “grazing system.” He says you don’t choose a “system.” You graze toward a goal. His goal in recent years has been to encourage the growth of cool-season grasses. That’s meant longer periods of rest for pastures.

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Grazing Management Benefits Livestock and Wildlife

Good grazing management is good for the livestock producer and for wildlife. When grazing-land is healthy, cattle put on the weight, and birds benefit from healthy grassland. The key is designing a grazing system that fits a producer’s climatic conditions, soils, topography and vegetation types. In many cases, the most productive and ecologically sustainable operations are those that reproduce the spatial heterogeneous conditions found over thousands of years on the Great Plains.

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