Stepping Out of the Steppe—Rachel Renne

As temperatures climbed this summer, so did the elevations of the plots that I visited. My gradual ascent was an attempt to capture the plant community of each site at a time when I would be able to detect and identify most of the plant species. Higher elevations mean lower temperatures, and while many grasses Read more about Stepping Out of the Steppe—Rachel Renne[…]

Place, People, and Politics: A Short Reflection on a Summer of Research and Rivers in the American West—Mara MacDonell

Over the course of 14 days this August, I traveled down the calm waters of Labyrinth and Stillwater Canyons of the Green River and the raucous and roiling waters of Cataract Canyon on the Colorado River. I went on this journey after a summer of conducting interviews and thinking critically about the role of the Read more about Place, People, and Politics: A Short Reflection on a Summer of Research and Rivers in the American West—Mara MacDonell[…]

Can Bison Shape the Prairie?—Ross Martin

 There’s a bull bison rolling on the ground. Hooves point skyward as the bull’s body moves—rocking, kicking, sliding on a carefully chosen patch of earth. Dust hangs in the hot summer air. Other bison look on at the commotion, then return to grazing. A calf imitates the bull, playfully rolling under mom’s legs. What are Read more about Can Bison Shape the Prairie?—Ross Martin[…]

A Note from the Steppe—Rachel Renne

As a kid growing up in Florida, we were warned that the hottest part of the day was between noon and 2 pm. My mother insisted that we come inside during these hours to avoid the heat and what she considered to be the riskiest time for sunburns. Yet, at 4:30 pm today in this Read more about A Note from the Steppe—Rachel Renne[…]

What’s Behind Oregon’s New Law Mandating Overtime Pay for Farmworkers and What Might it Mean for Farmers in the State? — Shannon Bell

Labor shortages became very salient in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the agricultural industry has been reckoning with labor shortages and the equity concerns around farm labor conditions for years. One of the primary factors behind both the decline in willing farm labor and the outcry among farmworker advocates has been the Read more about What’s Behind Oregon’s New Law Mandating Overtime Pay for Farmworkers and What Might it Mean for Farmers in the State? — Shannon Bell[…]

Is Oregon’s Land Use System Protecting Farmers? — Shannon Bell

Between 2001 and 2016, 11 million acres of farmland in the United States were developed, with 4.1 million acres converted to urban and highly developed land uses and almost 7 million acres converted to low-density residential use. The 2017 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Census revealed that from 2012 to 2017, the amount of Read more about Is Oregon’s Land Use System Protecting Farmers? — Shannon Bell[…]

Climate Change and Plant Communities: Reshaping Ecosystems for Livestock and Wildlife — Scott Carpenter

During the month of August, I was unfortunate enough to be impacted by two extreme weather events associated with climate change. In Wyoming, multiple field days were cut short due to hazardous air quality resulting from the ongoing wildfires in California and Oregon. While 2020 saw the second highest acreage burned since 1960 (the highest Read more about Climate Change and Plant Communities: Reshaping Ecosystems for Livestock and Wildlife — Scott Carpenter[…]

Global change and root production: how does land use and climate change affect life belowground? — Uthara Vengrai

Roots do everything. They are the connector between plants and soil–the interface at which many of the transactions of life are made. Roots (with the help of their mycorrhizal associates) conduct a plant’s search for nutrients, water, and shelter. They scour the soil for the ingredients of life and support whole ecosystems of microorganisms, plants, Read more about Global change and root production: how does land use and climate change affect life belowground? — Uthara Vengrai[…]

Augmenting local water supplies in Southern California: Difficult Tradeoffs — Ryanna Fossum

Our day-to-day experience with fresh water varies drastically depending on where in the country we live. This week, as I pulled off a highway in Connecticut to avoid the torrential downpour from Hurricane Henri, I thought about my work back home in Los Angeles to adapt to long-term drought. If I had superpowers, one of Read more about Augmenting local water supplies in Southern California: Difficult Tradeoffs — Ryanna Fossum[…]

Signing the Colorado Soil Health Bill!—Darya Watnick

Two days after I landed in Denver to spend a month working and exploring Colorado, Governor Jared Polis signed HB 21-1181, “Concerning the creation of a voluntary soil health program”. It was rewarding and moving to be a part of this culminating ceremony as I have supported this bill and the people working on it Read more about Signing the Colorado Soil Health Bill!—Darya Watnick[…]

Computer Simulations and Soil Texture — Jon Michel

This summer, I worked with computer simulations to determine if soil texture was currently an important factor in competition between sagebrush and bunchgrasses. In the present scenario, it was determined to not have a significant effect. Currently, I’m studying how this effect changes as climate change progresses, and it looks like it could start to Read more about Computer Simulations and Soil Texture — Jon Michel[…]

Bottom-up, Big-tent Community Organizing — Darya Watnick

The Colorado Collaborative for Healthy Soils is a community-driven organization bringing together diverse voices of Colorado’s farmers and ranchers around soil health. The Collaborative works in a bottom-up, big-tent capacity to explore ways that soil health practices can be recognized, incentivized, and promoted at a state-wide level.  I have been working on grant applications on Read more about Bottom-up, Big-tent Community Organizing — Darya Watnick[…]

From Zero to 9,600 Organic Acres in Montana’s Great Plains — Tim Ibbotson-Sindelar

I arrived at the farm on a Saturday three weeks ago. I drove for three days from Philadelphia to Hill County, Montana. The land first became flat and mostly treeless in eastern North Dakota, where I spent my second night on the road. The third and final day of driving was uninterrupted flatness. Though while Read more about From Zero to 9,600 Organic Acres in Montana’s Great Plains — Tim Ibbotson-Sindelar[…]

Soil Texture and Plant Concentration on Oil Well Pad Reclamation Sites in Wyoming

Jon is investigating the relationship between soil texture and the concentration of woody plants and perennial bunch grasses on oil well pad reclamation sites in Wyoming’s sagebrush steppe. Soil texture is an important factor in soil water storage, because it affects water movement speed through soil. In dry areas, where water is scarce, soil texture Read more about Soil Texture and Plant Concentration on Oil Well Pad Reclamation Sites in Wyoming[…]

Eco-Sensible Crop Farming in the Northern Great Plains of Montana

Tim is working this summer at Vilicus Farms, a 10,000 acre, organic, dry land (not irrigated) specialty grain and pulse (edible legumes like beans and lentils) farm. A New Haven native and long-time NYC resident, he is departing from his city roots to farm in big sky country for the summer to learn first-hand how Read more about Eco-Sensible Crop Farming in the Northern Great Plains of Montana[…]