Majors & Programs

Rangeland Resource Science

Degrees Offered: BS Minor

Rangeland Resource Science Option

Approximately 70 percent of the land surface of the earth is rangeland. This includes natural grasslands, savannas, shrublands, deserts, tundra, coastal marshes, and wet meadows. Rangeland also embraces many forest lands as a secondary resource through the supply of forage for livestock and wildlife. Herbaceous vegetation and shrubs represent the central attribute of rangeland. Water yield from vast rangeland watershed is extremely important for all life forms. Open space is also an important component of rangelands.

Rangeland resource science is the art and science of optimizing the returns from rangelands in those combinations most desired by and suitable to society through the management of range ecosystems. The rangeland resource curriculum at Humboldt is designed to give the student a sound basis for the sustainable use and management of rangeland ecosystems. Since range management is practiced on lands providing forage, timber, water, wildlife, and recreation, the concepts of multiple-use management are an integral part of the training. The departmental rangeland herbarium and plant and soil laboratories enhance classroom instruction. Private ranches and state or federal land near Arcata provide access to field studies of situations encountered in rangeland resource science and management.

With heavier demand on rangelands for meat, fiber, and water, increased efficiency of rangelands is of paramount interest. In addition, as human populations increase and become more highly urbanized, the importance of rangelands as open space and as places for recreational pursuits have increased. The rangeland specialist is the primary individual responsible for managing the rangelands to realize sustainable production and utilization of this resource.

To have a thorough understanding of the complex rangeland ecosystems, emphasis is placed on a sound background of knowledge in the biological and physical sciences. General education course work in behavioral and social sciences, plus the humanities, educates the student about the interaction of humans and the rangeland environment.

Wildland Soil Science Option

All terrestrial life depends on resources provided by the soil, so the conservation and sustainable management of soil resources is essential to the welfare of humans and natural ecosystems. Major goals of the curriculum option in Wildland Soil Science are to develop the ability to detect and analyze soil differences, to match land uses with soils capable of sustaining those uses, and to prescribe land management practices designed to enhance the potentials of soils or to minimize their limitations. Prevention of erosion and maintenance of soil quality are soil management skills that are taught.

Wildland soils are forested soils and rangeland soils that are not cultivated for the production of agricultural crops. Our soil science curriculum emphasizes these “wildlands” applications of the principles of soil evaluation and management. Humboldt is in an excellent position to offer such a curriculum because of the concentration of highly-respected faculty expertise found at the university in such fields as forestry, rangeland management, watershed management, wildlife management, botany, and geology, as well as in soil science itself. This gives students a chance to link their education in wildland soil science to a study of the management of other natural resources, such as forestlands and rangelands used for watersheds and in the production of forage for livestock, timber products, and wildlife.

Humboldt’s rural setting provides easy access to field sites for the study of soils in natural forests and on native rangelands. Laboratory and greenhouse facilities at the university, along with the field sites, provide an opportunity for specialized study in soil fertility, soil physics, soil microbiology, agroforestry, and forest and rangeland soil management, and in soil formation, description, and classification.

Students completing the Wildland Soil Science curriculum obtain a solid foundation in the natural sciences and general education courses in addition to the concentration in soil science and complementary courses in natural resources. Courses providing tools used in the evaluation of soils resources, such as remote sensing, aerial photo interpretation, and geographic information systems, are also included in the curriculum.

Employment opportunities are available with public agencies, such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service, US Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management, as well as with consulting firms and private companies.