School trust lands, population, conservation in Great Plains Research

Released on 10/20/2010, at 12:00 AM
Office of University Communications
University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Lincoln, Neb., October 20th, 2010 —
Cover of Great Plains Research
Cover of Great Plains Research

Can politics change relationships between ranchers leasing school trust land and the state in which they reside? Two researchers at Oklahoma State University have examined these potentially conflicting relationships in Cimarron County, Okla., and their work is featured among the articles in the fall issue of Great Plains Research, a publication of the Center for Great Plains Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Geographers Jacqueline Vadjunec and Rebecca Sheehan suggest school trust land leasing procedures need to be envisioned to uphold traditional rights and livelihoods of land users in their article, "Ranching and State School Land in Cimarron County, Oklahoma." Their study examines sustainability issues regarding land tenure, drought and environmental degradation on school trust land. Cimarron County is the second-largest producer of cattle in Oklahoma, and public land leases play a major role in ranchers' livelihood strategies. Changes in the tenure process have undergone profound transformations in the last 20 years, greatly impacting land use in the region.

Also in the fall issue of Great Plains Research, determinants of net migration in Montana are the topic of an article by Evelyn D. Ravuri of Saginaw Valley State University. The Great Plains experienced population loss for most of the 20th century while the Rocky Mountain region had rapid growth in the latter part of the century. Ravuri examined population migration for Montana between 1995 and 2000 using factors such as age and education level. She suggests that both economics and the environment played a role in migration patterns in that state.

UNL human sciences graduate student Courtney E. Quinn and Mark E. Burbach, UNL associate geoscientist, wrote about the relationship between farmers' use of conservation practices and their personality characteristics that impact surface water quality and the environment in their article, "A Test of Personal Characteristics that Influence Farmers' Pro-Environmental Behaviors." Their study indicates that farmers who are concerned about what their neighbors and peers think may not believe their efforts to benefit surface water will be adequately recognized.

How has the dispersion of University of Nebraska at Kearney alumni changed over 75 years? This was studied in "GIS Spatial Analysis of University of Nebraska at Kearney Alumni cohorts, 1930-2004," by Paul R. Burger, professor of geography and earth science at UNK, and Brett R. Chloupek, doctoral candidate in geography at the University of Kansas. Burger and Chloupek compared their findings about UNK alumni to migration trends for the same period, finding UNK alumni tended to stay in Nebraska and surrounding states rather than migrate to coastal states.

Diane Rickerl, Tim Nichols and Carol Cumber of South Dakota State University analyzed a "brand" development of Native American-raised bison in "The Really Good Buffalo Concept Test for 'Values Added' Bison." The goal of brand development was to reflect the cultural and spiritual values of Native Americans and their historic relationship with bison. The authors perceived their efforts to administer surveys to key producers and consumers would help bison producers in brand development.

In "Livestock Responses to Complementary Forages in Shortgrass Steppe," USDA researchers Justin D. Derner and Richard H. Hart evaluated yearling Hereford heifers during 1996-1999 for livestock gains on two forage grasses. Their study examined "Bozoisky-Select" Russian wildrye and "Hycrest" crested wheatgrass and compared these complementary forages to native shortgrass steppe during the summer grazing season.

Regional climate models suggest that summers in the Great Plains may become increasingly dry during this century, raising concern about the availability of water for irrigation and municipal supplies. In "A Soil Water Climatology for Kansas," Michael J. Keables of the University of Denver, and Shitij Mehta of ESRI in Redlands, Calif., looked at monthly observations of temperature and precipitation in Kansas from 1950-2006 to calculate climatologies of actual evapotranspiration, soil water utilization and recharge, and runoff.

In "Evaluating a Hybrid Soil Temperature Model in a Corn-Soybean Agroecosystem and a Tallgrass Prairie in the Great Plains," UNL School of Natural Resources researchers Song Feng, M. R. Schmer, A.B. Wingeyer, and A. Weiss, and colleague F. Salvagiotti at the Instituto Nacional de Technologia Agropecuaria, Argentina, modified an existing model that was developed for a temperate forest system by adjusting for ground litter and tested their mathematical model at UNL research sites in Mead.

The journal is available for purchase from the center at (402) 472-3082 or in the Great Plains Art Museum gift shop, 1155 Q St., Lincoln. For more information on the center, visit

Writer: Linda Ratcliffe

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