Marc R. Horney, Ph.D., CRM
Professor, Rangeland Ecology & Management
Office: Bldg. 10 Rm. 101
Professor Marc Horney teaches courses in the Rangeland Ecology & Management (REM) program (ASCI 239, 370, 372, 460, 465, and 490), as well as Intro to Animal Nutrition (ASCI 220), and Undergraduate Seminar (ASCI 363). The REM courses include Principles of Rangeland Management (ASCI 239), Rangeland Improvements (ASCI 370), California Ranch Resource Management (ASCI 372), Rangeland Assessment and Planning (ASCI 460), Applied California Rangeland Planning & Monitoring Practices (ASCI 465), and the Rangeland Research & Management Enterprise (ASCI 490).
The ASCI 490 Rangeland Research & Management Enterprise is a for-credit course offered every quarter where students from any major can gain practical experience collecting ecological measurements in support of research projects, assist with land management planning, and participate in conducting assessment and monitoring practices on managed lands and engaging in the integration of this information into decision-making. Much of this is done on Cal Poly’s 6,000-plus acres of grasslands near the main campus and at its Swanton Pacific Ranch facility located in Santa-Cruz County, but this work also includes support to and collaboration with local governments, conservation organizations, federal agencies, and private ranches. Use the QR code to access a list of current project opportunities:
Professor Horney also heads the new Environmental Geospatial Systems (EGS) Laboratory, which focuses on improving applications of digital mapping technologies for natural resource research and management practices. This includes increasing the accuracy, efficiency, and precision of field measurements, and their integration with remote measurements made from imaging systems and other sensors carried by satellites, crewed aircraft, unmanned aircraft, and other platforms. The lab’s initial work is focused on the integration (“fusion”) of aerial laser scans (LiDAR) with multispectral and hyperspectral imagery, and ultrasonics for quantifying and characterizing wildland fuel accumulations in ways that help communities make more timely and accurate decisions about protecting themselves from developing wildfire risks. It may also aid in measuring the practical effects of different fuel mitigation treatments (like grazing, thinning, mastication, and prescribed burning), and detect when these treatments are losing their effects.
He is also the Advisor for the Poly Range & Wildlands Club (https://poly-range-wildlands.my-free.website/), which was established by his students in 2019. The club’s purpose is to help students discover pathways into professional careers in the many rangeland science and education disciplines and land management and conservation opportunities. The club (a Cal Poly “Instructionally Related Activity”; IRA) is funded to provide travel support to students attending professional conferences where they can participate in intercollegiate contests and develop presentations on their various projects and interests. Members can also participate in the REM program’s research and management projects as student volunteer research assistants to gain experience. (Where funds and opportunities make it possible, students can subsequently be hired as research assistants on some research efforts) The club also holds a variety of training events, has guest speakers from different professional disciplines, organizes competitive teams for the Society for Range Management’s annual conferences, has social events including campouts and game nights. One of the competitive teams supported and organized by the club is the Cal Poly SLO Plant ID team.
Professor Horney (“Dr. Marc”) earned his Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in ruminant nutrition while working on a combined cow-calf production/rangeland ecology research project at the Gudmundsen Ranch in the Nebraska Sandhills. He earned his MS from Oregon State University in animal science (ruminant nutrition) with a minor in range management. He is a Cal Poly-SLO alumnus, earning his BS in animal science here, with minors in philosophy and in speech communication.
Before coming on faculty at Cal Poly, Professor Horney worked as a Cooperative Extension Agriculture/4-H Youth Agent for Colorado State University (El Paso County); as a Cooperative Extension Livestock/Natural Resources Advisor for the University of California (Colusa, Glenn & Tehama Counties); as a lecturer in the College of Agriculture at CSU Chico; and as a Rangeland Management Specialist for the USDA-NRCS. He was first assigned to the Klamath Basin Watershed Team as part of a multi-year effort to address conservation issues and salmonid habitat quality in the Klamath Basin. As that project wound down, he was offered the role of Rangeland Management Specialist for California NRCS’ Area 1 (northern California). He has worked extensively as a technical consultant to ranch owners and operators, federal/state/county government agencies, community organizations, and non-profit farming and conservation groups. During his time with Cooperative Extension he developed a performance-based youth market livestock production and educational curriculum and judging system for beef, goats, sheep, and swine that utilized growth information, ultrasonic estimates of carcass characteristics, actual carcass measures when available, and evaluations of structural soundness and conformation, with data shared to audiences as in-ring judging was conducted.
His research and educational work has spanned grazing livestock nutrition and management, prescribed/targeted grazing practices for wildland fuels and habitat management, weed ecology, geospatial technology applications (GPS/GIS/remote sensing), oak woodland management, wildlife species and habitat conservation, and prescribed grazing practices. Other projects have included work on vernal pools, annual and perennial grasslands, groundwater monitoring, inventory and management of sage-grouse and deer habitats, ranch planning, ranch water quality, vegetation mapping and inventory, and technical assistance to Fire Safe Council and Weed Management Area group efforts.
His activities off campus include active work with several professional organizations. He is an active member of the Society for Range Management (https://rangelands.org/) in the California-Pacific Section (Cal-Pac SRM) where he is a member of the Range Science Education, Geospatial Science and Technology, Wildlife Habitat, and Rangeland Assessment and Monitoring committees. He is also a member of The Wildlife Society (https://wildlife.org/) in the Western Section/Central Coast Chapter where he is a member of the Drone, and Student Development Working Groups. And he is a member of the American Society of Animal Science (https://www.asas.org/), Western Section.
Dr. Horney has served as a public member of the California Board of Forestry’s Range Management Advisory Committee (RMAC; https://bof.fire.ca.gov/board-committees/range-management-advisory-committee/) since 2008. He has served the committee as chair since 2009.
From 2004 to 2019 was the director for the California Range Camp, a natural resources summer science camp for high school students initially organized and hosted by Cal-Pac SRM. Since 2019 the camp has been under the management of the University of California Cooperative Extension Service (https://ucanr.edu/sites/rangecamp/). Dr. Horney still supports his UCCE colleagues in the further development of camp activities.