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NMSU's Corona Center focuses on sustainability at Half Day of College

New Mexico

FOCUS ON SUSTAINABILITY--Shad Cox, ranch manager at New Mexico State University's Corona Range and Livestock Research Center, leads a class session at a recent Half Day of College at the center. The Corona center's 2009 Half Day of college was Friday, July 17. (NMSU photo.)

New Mexico State University's Corona Range and Livestock Research Center focused on "Sustainability of Rangelands" at this year's Half Day of College on July 17.

Experts were available to talk about how juniper trees use available precipitation, the benefits of selling carbon credits and how to harness the power of alternative energy in your own backyard.

"The goal of the Half Day of College is to bring education in a forum to ranchers and landowners throughout the state of New Mexico," said Shad Cox, ranch manager. "I hope they benefit from the knowledge of the experts and have their questions answered about carbon sequestration, alternative energy and hydrology."

Sam Fernald, an associate professor in the Department of Animal and Range Sciences, spoke about the hydrology of piñon-juniper trees on rangelands. Cox said there are misconceptions when talking about trees, tree removal and annual precipitation, and whether removing the tree would increase the water table. The ranch manager said Fernald will separate fact from fiction on this topic and other theories concerning hydrology and piñon-juniper trees.

Joel Brown, a rangeland management specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service, spoke to attendees on the ins and outs of carbon sequestration on ranches and how to use the sale of carbon credits as an alternative source of income.

Cox said experts were on-hand to discuss alternative energy through wind and solar power. He said large corporations want to construct big wind farms on productive land, which may leave some of the ranches out of the mix. Experts discussed with landowners how they can capture a scaled-down version of solar and wind energy to use for themselves.

The sessions ran concurrently in order to give individuals a chance to attend the sessions they want.

Also planned was an update on the Southwest Center for Rangeland Sustainability, a multi-purpose research and education facility that will serve as a center for distance education as well as support for graduate research projects.

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