Grazing Lands

The impacts of climate change on grazing lands and the livestock operations that depend on them will vary by region, type of grazing land, vegetation community, and the type of livestock. These impacts are superimposed upon other factors such as land ownership, historical and current management, demographic changes and access to USDA programs.

Rangelands cover an area of 405.8 million acres or 21% of the U.S. surface area. In the Western states, rangelands are predominantly Federally-owned lands, whereas over the Great Plains, rangelands are privately-owned. Pasturelands are also privately owned and cover 121.1 million acres (6% of the U.S. surface area); pasturelands are more common in the wetter half of the US, to the east of the 97th meridian. Rangelands and pasturelands are both used for grazing but the difference between the two is that rangelands support natural (and usually native) ecosystems while pasturelands are highly managed, cultivated systems.

Continue to the full text Grazing Lands in a Changing Climate or browse related content:

Changes in the timing and availability of water resources across the Northwest are affecting rangelands. Warming winter temperatures are reducing mountain snowpack and resulting in earlier snowmelt and less available water in the summer months. Reduced water availability,…

California's forests play a critical role in providing ecosystem services such as fresh air, clean water, timber, and spaces for cultural and recreational opportunities. From the open, grassy hillsides of blue oak woodlands, to the park-like settings of ponderosa forests, to the…

By Joseph Knelman Though rangelands have long supported ranching and wildlife in the West, many people may better recognize these landscapes as the blurred backdrop to audiobook-fueled road trips than as dynamic ecosystems.  Recently, however, rangelands have gained visibility…

At least 95% of resource managers want to hear from peers about lessons learned during drought. A recent survey administered by the Drought Learning Network (DLN) indicated that 66% of resource managers were ‘very interested’ and another 30% were ‘somewhat interested’ in…

By Diana Doan-Crider: Native American Rangelands Training Initiative Coordinator and Course Instructor, Director of Animo Partnership in Natural Resources There are approximately 55 million acres of Tribal rangelands within the United States boundaries that meet essential…

Investing in K-12 climate change education can provide valuable returns in the form of both long-term and short-term mitigation. In addition to the influence that education can have on students’ actions as future stakeholders, research shows that children can be effective…

The Grassland Productivity Forecast, or Grass-Cast, is an experimental model that generates map-based forecasts of grassland productivity, offering a potential new tool in the land manager’s drought contingency planning toolbox for grazing lands. The tool is available in the…

Did you know that the USDA Soil Conservation Service (now called the Natural Resources Conservation Service or NRCS) was founded in 1933 during the Dust Bowl to help farmers conserve soil, especially during times of drought? Today, NRCS offers cost sharing for practices that…