Early in the history of the world, primitive peoples grazed their livestock wherever forage was plentiful. As the supply of grass and shrubs became depleted, they simply moved on, leaving the stripped land to suffer the effects of soil erosion. When civilization gained a foothold and the nomadic tribes began to establish settlements, they recognized the need for conservation and developed simple jobs management or methods of terracing, irrigation, and the rotation of grazing lands. Much of the same thing happened in the United States. The rapid expansion across the continent in the nineteenth century was accompanied by the destruction of plant and animal life and the abuse of the soil. Our natural resources appeared inexhaustible, and the cries of alarm from a few concerned conservationists went unheeded. It was not until after 1890 that conservation became a national policy. Today several states and federal agencies are actively involved in protecting our soil, water, forests, and wildlife. Moreover, rangelands cover more than a billion acres of the United States, mostly in the Western States and Alaska. Many natural resources are found there: grass and shrubs for animal grazing, wildlife habitats, water from vast watersheds, recreation facilities, and valuable mineral and energy resources. In addition, rangelands are used by scientists who conduct studies of the environment.
The manager careers of the Range managers are sometimes known as range scientists, range ecologists, or range conservationists. Their goal is to maximize range resources without damaging the environment. They accomplish this in a number of ways. To help ranchers attain optimum livestock production, range managers study the rangelands to determine the number and kind of livestock that can be most profitably grazed and the best grazing seasons. The system they use must be designed to conserve the soil and vegetation for other uses, such as wildlife habitats, outdoor recreation, and timber.
Grazing lands must continually be restored and improved. Range managers study plants to determine which varieties are best suited to a particular range and to develop improved methods of reseeding. They devise biological, chemical, or mechanical ways of controlling undesirable and poisonous plants, and methods of protecting the range from damage by fire and rodents.
The task for manager employment of the Range managers is also to develop and help carry out plans for water facilities, structures for erosion control, and soil treatments. They are responsible for the construction and maintenance of such improvements as fencing, corrals, and reservoirs for stock watering. Although a great deal of range managers’ time is spent outdoors, they also spend some time in an office, consulting with other conservation specialists, preparing written reports and doing administrative work.
Rangelands have more than one use, so range managers often work in such closely related fields as wildlife and watershed management, forest management, and recreation. Other related fields include fire wardens, fire lookouts, fire rangers, forest fire fighters, and smoke jumpers whose work is concerned with the prevention and containment of fire on the range or in the forest.
The minimum educational requirement for range managers to handle project manager jobs is usually a bachelor’s degree in range management or range science. To be hired by the government, graduates will need at least to acquire a number of hours studying in plant, animal, or soil sciences and natural resources management courses, including a number of hours in range management. For teaching and research positions, graduate degrees in range management are generally mandatory. Advanced degrees may also prove helpful for advancement in other jobs.
As part of the ladder position of their management careers, Range managers may advance to administrative positions, in which they plan and supervise the work of others and write reports. Others may go into teaching, research, or consulting. It should be remembered that an advanced degree is often necessary for the higher-level jobs in this occupational field. Another way for range managers to advance themselves is to enter into business for themselves as range management consultants or ranchers.
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