LD Ford Rangeland Conservation Science: LEGAL AND ETHICAL REQUIREMENTS

Comprehensive Review and Planning Process:

Federal and state law requires a comprehensive review and planning about potential impacts of a planned activity to the human environment, including endangered species, clean water, cultural resources, and related environmental protection. Livestock grazing can be associated with significant environmental impacts (as well as benefits), and planning for its management must include enough information to make choices to avoid or minimize such impacts.

Rangeland Ecosystem Health:

This concept refers to sustaining the integrity of the soil and the ecological processes of rangeland ecosystems. It is the fundamental set of qualities of the ecosystem that supports the habitat of special-status species and natural communities, the production of goods and services, and capability of the land to support human economic and cultural activities. The National Research Council developed national standards and methods for its assessment. The U.S.D.A. Natural Resources Conservation Service has adopted and modified those standards, and described methods for their measurement and applications in conservation practices. Consequently, management, including monitoring of rangelands should incorporate these standards.

Licensing:

The Certified Rangeland Manager (CRM) program involves both certification and legal licensing. The California Code of Regulations and Public Resources Code require licensing as a CRM to conduct professional planning and management activities for non-federal "forested" rangelands (these are grasslands, savannas, and shurblands with the ecological potential to support significant stands of native tree cover). The CRM must be in charge and the primary author of the professional activity, whether or not subordinate professionals are involved. The California Board of Forestry and Fire Protection licenses these professionals after certification by the California-Pacific Section of the Society for Range Management (CalPac SRM). The certification covers all kinds of rangelands in the state. Qualifications for certification and licensing include specified education, experience, and passing an exam in rangeland resource ecology, management, economics, measurement, and policy. The certified/licensed professional is also obliged to follow a Code of Ethics, including to manage and perform services consistent with the highest standards of quality, integrity, and respect for the rangeland resources as well as the employer and the pubic, to use sound information, to give advice only on topics for which he/she is informed and qualified, and to give credit to the work of others where due. Aside from the licensing requirement, possession of the certification/license indicates to prospective employers or clients that this professional has the qualifications and ethics to be approved by his/her peers.

For more information on the CRM license, refer to:

(a) The California Deputy Attorney General's recent analysis confirming the requirement for a CRM license to conduct professional rangeland management activities on non-federal rangelands;

(b) The memo by Eric Huff, Executive Officer, Foresters Registration for the Board of Forestry and Fire Protection, which describes the CRM program’s history;

(c) The CRM website of the California-Pacific Section of the Society for Range Management;

(d) A summary of the history, advantages, and legal requirements of the CRM program on the website of the University of California Integrated Hardwood Range Management Program; and

(e) An article by L. Ford comparing the California CRM program and the Society for Range Management's certifications, Certified Professional in Rangeland Management and Certified Range Management Consultant.