Grazing as a Potential Tool for Controlling Cheatgrass

The primary goals will be to gain experience in a variety of ranch operations and to experiment and evaluate how livestock grazing can be used to reduce the abundance of cheatgrass (Bromus (Anisantha) tectorum). Cheatgrass is a winter annual which has invaded disturbed rangelands across much of the western U.S., including the Trinchera-Blanca Ranch in southwestern Colorado. Cheatgrass is a poor forage species, except briefly in early spring, after which it becomes a serious competitor of more desirable native grasses and forbs. When cheatgrass matures and dies in mid-summer, it creates a highly flammable, flashy fuel that can carry fast-moving and destructive wildfires. The Ranch conducted a pilot grazing experiment on cheatgrass-infested pastures in summer 2021; the results suggested that the timing of grazing (early vs. later in summer) might be as important as the intensity of grazing. In 2022, the Ranch will conduct a similar, but broader and scientifically more rigorous experiment, with the goal of developing an optimal grazing regimen for mitigating the adverse effects of cheatgrass on semi-arid rangelands. The intern will have a central role in conducting and evaluating the results of this experiment. The intern will also have opportunities to be involved in ranch tasks that may be of interest, such as livestock grazing programs, identifying and mapping other undesirable invasive species, forestry, riparian restoration, guest services, and irrigation.

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