Community Service: Rangeland Restoration at the National Ranching Heritage Center

For my community service project I volunteered at the National Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock, Texas. The National Ranching Heritage Center is a museum and interpretative center that honors the history of ranching. The center has a large array of historical homes and artifacts that represent the history of ranching. In addition to these historic items the center also addresses issues pertaining to the landscape.

Mr. Jason Hodges and I had previously designed an above ground irrigation system for several parts of the Ranching Heritage Center where the Texas Tech University College of Agriculture Sciences and Natural Resources would be testing a native range land seed mix for the purposes of studying rangeland restoration methods. After acquiring the parts Mr. and Mrs Hodges and I assembled the temporary irrigation set ups in front of the 6666 Barn, Masterson Home, and a large berm near the front of the museum. The systems are not meant to be permanent as the maturing plants will hopefully need minimal irrigation, relying on the natural precipitation in the area and the occasional hand watering. By irrigating a portion of the seed whilst leaving other areas dry or only minimally watered it should become apparent how much water is necessary to establish a rangeland seed mix.

In addition to assembling the three irrigation systems, we also helped plant a large amount of plugs. Plugs, when used in this context, refer to a young plant grown in a small container for the purpose of being transplanted to the ground or a larger container. The plugs, as opposed to the seed, were chosen to be tested at the suggestion of Mr. Hodges. By comparing the effectiveness of the seed mix to that of a slightly grown plant, the researchers can collect more data concerning range land restoration.

Landscape Architects spend the large majority of their time in the office working on drawings, model, and details that is enjoyable to occasionally work in the field. It is especially enjoyable when the work you are doing can have an impact on the way the restoration of an important ecological and cultural resource is carried out.

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