Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Arkansas
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Arkansas Project

Conservation Outcomes in Great Plains Rangelands

January 2021 - January 2023


Participating Agencies

  • Arkansas Game and Fish Commisssion

For the past several decades, scientific research has quantified catastrophic outcomes to rangeland resources due to woody plant encroachment, including collapses in livestock production potential and rancher profitability, increasing risks of wildfire danger and water security, displacement of wildlife habitat, and losses to important social and community programs (e.g., revenue generated for public school education). However, scientific documentation of positive conservation management and strategy outcomes is limited. This leads to slower widespread adoption of 'winning' strategies. In this project, we leverage major advancements in monitoring technology (e.g., the Rangeland Analysis Platform) alongside various wildlife datasets to provide more rapid outcomes-generation for partners across the Great Plains. Quantifying spatially-explicit changes in rangeland productivity, cover, and state transitions is central to this approach and have served to better understand complex responses of more specialized outcomes-based assessments. This project is a collaboration between the Arkansas Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). Primary project deliverables are (1) a synthesis of existing NRCS technical guidance related to juniper encroachment in the Great Plains, (2) documentation improved management of productivity, cover, state transitions, and grassland wildlife diversity and abundance in the Great Plains. Timely documentation the benefits of new conservation practices will equip agencies and private lands managers to tackle the woody encroachment problem in the Great Plains.

Research Publications Publication Date
Scott L. Morford, Brady W. Allred, Dirac Twidwell, Matthew O. Jones, Jeremy D. Maestas, Caleb P. Roberts, David E. Naugle. Herbaceous production lost to woody encroachment in U.S. rangelands. Journal of Applied Ecology. | Abstract October 2023
Roberts, C. P., Scholtz, R., Fogarty, D. T., Twidwell, D., & Walker Jr, T. L. (2022). Large‐scale fire management restores grassland bird richness for a private lands ecoregion. Ecological Solutions and Evidence, 3(1), e12119. | Abstract | Download January 2022
Presentations Presentation Date
Roberts CP, Cady SM, Donovan VM, Fogarty DT, Scholtz R, Twidwell D, Uden DR. 2024. Successes, challenges, and scientific advances gleaned from ecoregion-scale grassland restoration in the Loess Canyons, Nebraska. Society for Range Management 2024 Annual Meeting. Sparks, NV. January 2024