Severe Range Impact Emerges As Eastern Colorado Drought Continues

Area ranchers may want to attend Nebraska session for help.

Published on: Jul 28, 2013

When range ecology expert Pat Reece looked at the range land of eastern Colorado's drought-stricken region, he told producers they had better  develop an ongoing plan to deal with this and upcoming water-less periods.

University of Nebraska professor, he will be offering help during the upcoming Nebraska Grazing Conference in Kearney, Neb.,  Aug. 14-15.

He will be bringing tips and hints in how to handle cattle in a drought in a focus of managing drought risk on the ranch during the session. Included in his talk will be a demonstration of how to write a drought plan, step-by-step.

The entire second day of the conference will focus on the drought which has stricken produces in Nebraska, Colorado and other neighboring states.

Pat Reece brings 30 years of range ecology experience to aid producers suffering drought on the high plains.
Pat Reece brings 30 years of range ecology experience to aid producers suffering drought on the high plains.

Presenters will probe livestock feeding considerations, financial aspects of drought ranching, and what is available in pasture, rangeland and forage insurance.

A presentation is also planned on how producers can conduct a drought "reality check," with an evaluation of grazing system options available during a time of drought.

The conference opening topic, "Managing for Ecosystem Services and Livestock Production: Are There Tradeoffs?," will feature Justin Derner, Agricultural Research Service High Plains Grasslands Research Station scientist from Cheyenne, Wyo.

Sandy Smart, a South Dakota State University researcher, will also be a highlight speaker with a discussion of "Managing for Biodiversity and Livestock: Using Fire and Grazing."

Included on opening day presentations will be a talk on federal and state endangered species on ranches, and cost-share programs associated with those species.

Winter grazing is also on the agenda with a discussion of training cattle to eat weeds.

The conference, an annual event in Nebraska since 2001, is designed to attract those with an interest in use and conservation of grazing lands who want to learn more information on grazing and the impact of foraging cattle on ecological systems. It is touted as an event of interest for beginning and experienced grazers and land managers as well as policy makers. While much of the focus is on Nebraska, the information is designed to be helpful to those in neighboring states as well.

Coloradan's stricken by severe drought in the eastern part of the state may find the conference a source of usable advice on how to get through the second year of dry weather. Range land conditions are considered to be  "mind-numbing" in terms of endangerment of many grass species, according to Reece, who teaches ranchers how to "read" plant life and determine how it should be managed on the range.

Registration fee is $95, which includes two lunches, an evening banquet, refreshments and materials. A single day registration is $55, and does not include the evening banquet.

Reduced costs are available for students. More information and registration is available online.

or by calling (402) 472-4101. E-mails may be sent to

The conference will be held in the Kearney Holiday Inn, and special reservation rates are available by registering as a conference delegate by calling (308) 237-5971.

For more on this story, see the August issue of Western Farmer-Stockman