Rangelands are vast landscapes that cover more than half of the globe, half of western North America, and dominate the landscapes of Idaho, Oregon, and Nevada. These grasslands, shrublands, woodlands and deserts may appear empty and unproductive to a casual observer. Yet, these lands house incredible natural resources, human experiences, demands, and desires. Historically, rangelands were valued mostly for ranching, hunting and mining. Today, a new group of users is frequenting rangelands and bringing new interests for recreational opportunities, home sites, healthy watersheds and simply open space. The modern challenges of rangeland management must be met with broad thinking and new, sustainable practices to maintain and restore rangelands and the human communities that rely on them. Though caring for rangelands is a complex and challenging
task, much is known about how these lands function and change and many sustainable practices have been developed, tried and tested. A natural landscapes surrounding the Owyhee - Bruneau Canyonlands region is a setting well suited to advancing rangeland management and facilitating collaboration among individuals and organizations that care deeply about these landscapes. A bold initiative of collaboration to maintain and restore these landscapes was begun more than a decade ago by those who live and work in these expansive and rugged landscapes at the juncture of Idaho, Nevada, and Oregon. The need for discussion and collaboration among those interested in the future of the Owyhee region was spawned by a growing public interest in how these lands are used and managed. This public interests stems from the fact that about three-quarters of the almost 5 million acres in Owyhee County are
public land, administered by the Bureau of Land Management. The Owyhee Canyonlands embody the contemporary challenges facing land use and management in the West. Owyhee County is three-quarters public land in close proximity to growing urban areas in greater Boise Idaho are and can serves as a case study for exploring the role that science can and does play in land management. The review of the science behind land management decisions and action will be valuable well beyond the Owyhee region. Specifically, a careful evaluation of the link between science and land management decisions will likely hone a procedure that may be useful in other areas. The rangeland information system will focus on southwest Idaho, but the database will be useful to ranchers, land managers, resource users, and scientists well beyond the Owyhee region. Finally, the process of reviewing and gathering scientific
information will help to identify knowledge gaps that can be addressed in subsequent investigations in the Owyhee Region. To facilitate the use of scientific information in land management decisions we will: 1) Establish a scientific review process for decisions as proposed by the Bureau of Land Management in the Owyhee region. 2) Create a searchable internet-based directory of published research relevant to rangeland ecosystem management.