The Vale Project
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Volcanoguy
N 42° 54.486 W 117° 16.951
11T E 476938 N 4750648
This history sign is located at the Vale Project Interpretive Site on U.S. Hwy. 95 about 12.5 miles southwest of Jordan Valley, Oregon.
Waymark Code: WMAV9Y
Location: Oregon, United States
Date Posted: 02/26/2011
Published By:Groundspeak Regular Member silverquill
Views: 5

This is one of a group of interpretive signs in the kiosk at the Vale Project Interpretive Site. This sign is on the back side of the kiosk and deals with the history of the Vale Project.

Marker Name: The Vale Project
Marker Text: For nearly a century, livestock grazing has been the major land use in southeatern Oregon. Today the rangelands provide a sound resource base for livestock grazing as well as for wildlife, wild horses and recreation. But the lands were not always so productive.

The early years of unrestricted brazing by large herds of cattle, sheep and horses severly damaged once productive rangelands. Sagebrush and weeds took over where native bunchgrass once grew. Precious desert topsoil eroded away. In time, land could provide forage for only a fraction of the livestock it had supported when grazing began.

To address these problems, Congress passed the Taylor Grazing Act in 1934. The Act provided the authority to manage and restore the western public rangelands.

In the 1960’s under the authority of the Act, the Bureau of Land Management worked with ranchers to plan an experimental program to rehabilitate 4.5 million acres of rangeland in this area. Called the Vale Project, the program’s main goal was to test new concepts to restore the productivity of a large area of depleted land, water, and vegetation. The idea was to greatly increase forage production on part of the land and, using that acreage as alternative grazing areas, improve vegetation on the remaining land through planned periods of rest from grazing impacts. A second objective of the project was to make the lessons learned available for land rehabilitation programs elsewhere.

The Vale Project began in 1962 and continued until 1973. During this period Congress appropriated $10.5 million to fund the program and users contributed substantially through labor and management practices.

Large areas of sagebrush and weeds were seeded with crested wheatgrass, a plant native to Siberia that grows well in this area. The seedings and native range were then fenced into pastures to control grazing, and extensive water developments were constructed to enable better livestock distribution and improve wildlife habitat. Special plantings were made to improve deer habitat in critical winter areas.

The combination of seedings, fences and water development gave managers considerable flexibility and control of grazing. Livestock were allowed to feed in the crested wheatgrass seedings while the native rangelands were rested for periods each season. Over several years, the development of these grazing systems let the native grasses regain strength and reproduce, while the seeding provided forage to offset otherwise needed livestock reductions.

Today the rangelands of southeastern Oregon have recovered dramatically. Native grasses responded to grazing management more quickly than expected, and are continuing to improve. For example, the amount of land in excellent and good condition of the total range has increased from 1% in 1961 to 22% in 1983. Erosion has decreased. New water sources have appeared. The land’s capacity to feed grazing animals on a sustained yield basis has nearly doubled since the Vale Project began.

The Vale Project has provided benefits to range users across the board. Today 220 livestock operators graze 82,000 cattle and 6,000 sheep on the project area.

Many wildlife species thrive on the expanded distribution of water and improved condition of native habitat. Forty-one thousand deer, 3,500 antelope and lesser numbers of bighorn sheep, elk, black bear, and cougar use the land.

Six herds of wildhorses totaling 1,700 animals now roam these lands.

Recreation visits have grown to 365,000 annually.

The cooperative efforts of livestock operators, the supportive public, and wildlife and public land managers have demonstrated that the condition and productivity of the nation’s rangelands can be successfully restored.

In the future, the knowledge gained through the Vale Project will help to achieve even greater improvements and progress here and on other western ranges.

Historic Topic: Modern Age 1900 to date

Group Responsible for placement: BLM

Marker Type: Roadside

Region: Eastern Oregon

County: Malheur

State of Oregon Historical Marker "Beaver Board": Not listed

Web link to additional information: Not listed

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Recent Visits/Logs:
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Phydux visited The Vale Project 05/10/2014 Phydux visited it
Volcanoguy visited The Vale Project 10/01/2009 Volcanoguy visited it

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