One of the key objectives of the Casper Field Office is to manage sustainable livestock grazing on public rangelands. Rangeland health surveys provide an important way to monitor these areas and provide feedback to lessees about why certain aspects of rangeland health are passing or failing.
In June, we completed rangeland health inventory on six allotments — Marton, Snowshoe Creek, Casper Canal, Banner Mountain, Hess Draw, and Steamboat Lake. As a hydrology technician, my role was to inventory Soil Surface Function (SSF) and analyze signs of erosion at rangeland health sites. I set up a 10ft x 10ft soil plot and collected samples at 4 inches, 12 inches, and 20 inches. In addition, I checked both the soil plot and nearby drainages for signs of erosion, including surface movement, flow paths, rills, gullies, and pedestals. Soil samples were analyzed in the lab and used to calculate the percentage of sand, silt, and clay in each area. These percentages will be compared to pre-existing soil data and used to further analyze grazing patterns at each rangeland health site.
Working with the Casper BLM for a second summer, I have become much more aware of the big picture reasoning behind Rangeland Health inventory and the methods of choosing rangeland health sites. One thing that never ceases to amaze me is the diversity of the places in which we work. One week, we may be working in a flat, arid, overgrazed pasture. The next, we’re surrounded by mountains and trees and cool granite rock formations. A day later, we’re wandering a sandy, beach-like area littered with mini dunes and rocks that have been naturally polished by windblown sediment. Each site has its gems: aromatic pine forests, rocks of every color, a young rattlesnake coiling and rattling at a distance (key words, “at a distance”). I look forward to the rest of the season and everything Casper, WY has to offer.
Here are some of the places we worked: