Rangeland

Rangelands are grasslands, shrublands, woodlands, wetlands, and deserts that are grazed by domestic livestock or wild animals. Types of rangelands include tallgrass and shortgrass prairies, desert grasslands and shrublands, woodlands, savannas, chaparrals, steppes, and tundras. Rangelands do not include forests lacking grazable understory vegetation, barren desert, farmland, or land covered by solid rock, concrete and/or glaciers.

Red Desert rangeland in Wyoming. Water from melted snow pack can be seen on the ground. Such melting is the main source of surface water in Wyoming.
Weeds are all that remains in Idaho after overgrazing, wildfires, and subsequent invasion by non-native species. Russian thistle (Kali tragus) is the only plant species seen in this picture.

Rangelands are distinguished from pasture lands because they grow primarily native vegetation, rather than plants established by humans. Rangelands are also managed principally with practices such as managed livestock grazing and prescribed fire rather than more intensive agricultural practices of seeding, irrigation, and the use of fertilizers.

Grazing is an important use of rangelands but the term rangeland is not synonymous with grazingland. Livestock grazing can be used to manage rangelands by harvesting forage to produce livestock, changing plant composition, or reducing fuel loads.

Fire is also an important regulator of range vegetation, whether set by humans or resulting from lightning. Fires tend to reduce the abundance of woody plants and promote herbaceous plants including grasses, forbs, and grass-like plants. The suppression or reduction of periodic wildfires from desert shrublands, savannas, or woodlands frequently invites the dominance of trees and shrubs to the near exclusion of grasses and forbs.[1]