The warm fall has kept our Audubon Conservation Ranching (ACR) team out on the road, in the field, and looking at the soil beneath our feet. A highlight of the past month was welcoming two new ACR staff to the team, including the ACR program Marketing Manager, Farley Green (pictured right with Director Amy Seaman), and ACR program Communications Manager, Anthony Hauk. Their addition to the National ACR program will amplify our reach and messaging, so we were excited to spend three whirlwind days touring participating ranches with Farley to show her the lay of the land. On this tour, Farley was able to hear directly from ranchers about their current marketing efforts, needs, goals, and struggles.
And we did some cross-training! After Farley spent time teaching us birders, biologists, and ranchers what marketing really is, we had her get down in the dirt to experience/get a taste of vegetation and soil monitoring. We identified some of eastern Montana’s lingering warm season grasses and hardy forbs and measured the water infiltration rates of both clay-based and sandy soils. We discussed the benefits and values of baseline and long-term soil and habitat monitoring and learned from the ranchers directly what they view as most important.
But our focus on soil didn’t stop there. We also joined researchers, professionals, and scientists from the Woodwell Climate Research Center to better understand soil monitoring metrics associated with managing a landscape’s natural ability to capture carbon. This workshop again turned our eyes to the ground, where we learned about how slope and geology directly affect the organic layer development and carbon capture potential of soil on different parts of the landscape. Only with this knowledge can we begin to understand the potential of the ACR program to also help fight climate change while supporting the landscape needed by our most important grassland bird species.
Written by Amy Seaman, Director of Policy & Science