Riparian Friendly Grazing Project

Final Report for SW01-044

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2001: $24,714.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2002
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Kenneth Tate
University of California Davis
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Project Information

Abstract:

Working cooperatively with the range livestock industry, a survey of 300 rangeland riparian sites has lead to the development of: 1) a simple riparian health assessment method, 2) feasible grazing management recommendations to improve riparian health, 3) consistent guidelines for monitoring changes in rangeland riparian health, and 4) demonstrations sites to illustrate these results. These tools will assist managers to conduct, monitor, and document riparian friendly grazing. These results illustrate a unique problem solving approach which capitalizes on producer’s knowledge of their property and its management, and utilizes the technical and statistical skills of the researcher.

Project Objectives:

Our overall objective was to conduct a comprehensive extension and applied research project to provide our clientele with the tools necessary to conduct, assess/monitor, and document riparian friendly grazing management. Our specific objectives were:

1) Collect and analyze information on the health, type, and grazing management at each of the 300 riparian sites enrolled in the project for evaluation of site-specific grazing management and riparian health relationships (positive and negative). The analysis of this data, and the relevant existing literature, will serve as the science base for achieving objectives 2-4.

2) Develop Riparian Health Assessment Method for Rangelands. The first step for a riparian grazing manager is to assess the health of the riparian areas he/she manages.

3) Develop Riparian Grazing Management Recommendations to Improve Riparian Resources. Once a riparian grazing problem has been identified, specific grazing management alternatives must be available.

4) Develop Guidelines for the Establishment and Monitoring of Riparian Grazing Case Studies. The manager needs a simple framework by which to monitor changes in riparian health through time following changes in grazing management.

5) Establish 20 demonstration sites across California which represent the State’s major range types, serving as field classrooms to illustrate the application of products from Objectives 2-4.

Introduction:

Concerns about livestock grazing impacts on rangeland riparian health include impacts on riparian vegetation, stream channel stability, hydrology, water quality, and habitat. The concerned grazing manager’s questions are: 1) Is my grazing management degrading riparian health? 2) If my grazing management is degrading riparian health, what practical grazing management tools can I employ to resolve this problem?, and 3) Did my grazing management changes improve riparian health?

The literature concerning the effects of grazing on riparian areas is extensive, yet at the same time limited. Various reviews have found the literature surprisingly lacking in examinations of proper grazing management in functioning riparian areas, as well as in scientific rigor (Allen-Diaz et al. 1999, Rinne 1999, and Larsen et 1998). Larsen et al. (1998) evaluated 428 publications relating grazing to riparian areas and habitat. Of these, 248 contained original data and only 89 of those were experimental. The remainder were case studies, observational based reports, abstracts and posters. Three recurrent problems identified in the literature were: 1) inadequate description of grazing; 2) weak study designs; and 3. lack of pre-treatment data. Reviewing the literature relevant to grazing in the Sierra Nevada, Allen-Diaz et al. (1999) agreed with Larsen et al. (1998), and found that many authors failed to give adequate study site descriptions. Much of the research has compared some level of undefined grazing to livestock exclosure, shedding little light on “proper” or “moderate” grazing. It is clear from the literature that improper grazing does degrade riparian resources. What is not clear is a tool-box of tested proper grazing recommendations and grazing impact assessment methods that can be extended for use by on-the-ground managers (Rinne 1999).

The collective experience of University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE), U.S. Forest Service (USDA-FS), U.S. Bureau of Land Management (USDI-BLM), the Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS), and the livestock industry is that there are many ranches and grazing allotments where riparian resources are being enhanced in the presence of livestock. These real world demonstrations of riparian friendly grazing offer the best learning and teaching opportunities. With funding from USDA Western Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, California Cattlemen’s Association, and California Department of Forestry we conducted an applied research and extension education project which enrolled approximately 300 private and publicly owned grazed riparian sites across California. The goal of this project was to identify relationships (positive and negative) between specific grazing management practices and riparian health, and to extend this information to grazing managers, scientists, and the interested public.

Research

Materials and methods:

Objective 1. Survey of Grazed Rangeland Sites…
We conducted a survey of 300 rangeland stream dependent riparian areas located throughout California, including coast range, foothill, and mountain locations. Riparian areas were selected to represent a cross-section of the combinations of riparian vegetation community spanning Rosgen stream types (Rosgen, 1996) and stream “health” status common to California’s rangelands. Each study site was a randomly selected 100 meter stream reach and its adjacent riparian area located within a single livestock management unit. Livestock management units were generally pastures (private rangeland) or allotments (public rangeland). At each site three riparian health assessment methods were utilized, site physical parameters were characterized, and a management survey was completed with the on-the-ground manager.

Three visual riparian health assessments were conducted at each site. The Habitat Assessment Field Data Sheet (HAFDS) (Barbour, et al., 1999) was developed to provide visual assessment of instream habitat type and quality to assist in the interpretation of stream macroinvertebrate data collected during rapid bioassessments. HAFDS assesses habitat features via ten questions. Each question targets the abundance and quality of a specific habitat feature. The stream reach is assigned a score of 1 (habitat feature not present or quality minimal) to 20 (habitat feature abundant and quality excellent). An example question from HAFDS is targeted on epifaunal substrate and available cover for macroinvertabrates and fish. The overall outcome score for the reach is calculated as the average score for all 10 questions. The US Natural Resource Conservation Services’s Stream Visual Assessment (SVA) was developed for use with landowners, and focuses on various physical parameters of stream health, specifically those related to instream habitat (NRCS, 1998). SVA is similar to HAFDS in the type of habitat features assessed. VSA is composed of 15 questions targeting individual habitat related features of the stream reach. A score of 1 to 10 is assigned for each question. An example question from VSA targets bank stability, where a score of 10 is assigned when banks are stable and a score of 1 is assigned when excessive stream bank failure is apparent. Overall SVA outcome for a reach is calculated as the mean of scores for the 15 questions. Finally, The Proper Functioning Condition (PFC) visual assessment, designed to evaluate stream hydrologic function (Prichard et al., 1998). A total of 17 questions covering hydrology, vegetation, and erosion/deposition processes are examined. Each question can be answered as “Yes”, “No”, or “Not Applicable” based on the site’s potential. An example question from the method is “Stream is in balance with water and sediment being supplied by the watershed?” Based upon the answers to these 17 questions, the team applying the method agrees on a final outcome rating for the stream reach of “Functional”, “Functioning At Risk”, or “Nonfunctional”.

A management questionnaire, with a total of 130 questions, was designed at the onset of the survey and is outlined in Table 1. The main sections of the questionnaire include General Information, Current Management, Historic Management, and Current Monitoring Practices. Subsections included in both current and historic management sections of the questionnaire solicit a detailed description of the grazing system, livestock distribution practices and range management practices implemented in the management unit containing the site. The questionnaire was completed with the on-the-ground manager at the time of the site visit if possible, or by a follow up phone interview.

Objective 2: Riparian Health Assessment Method for Rangelands…
Our approach in developing a riparian health assessment method for rangelands that was applicable for the grazing manager was to refine the existing riparian health assessment methods (HAFDS, SVA, and PFC), rather than create a new method. We utilized correlation analysis to evaluate the overlap and dissimilarity in information gathered by the three methods across a subset of the stream reaches included in the cross-sectional survey (Objective 1).

Objective 3: Riparian Grazing Recommendations to Improve Riparian Resources…
Stepwise regression techniques were performed on a subset of the data collected in Objective 1 to identify significant relationships between riparian health and grazing management variables. For the purpose of this report, the analysis of grazing management by EPA habitat outcome score (HAFDS) is reported. Ward et al. (In Press #1) illustrate that the EPA HAFDS and NRCS SVA methods are in close agreement, so analysis of SVA by grazing management relationships would be redundant. Analysis of PFC and grazing management relationship is currently underway. The EPA HAFDS assessment outcome was the dependent variable for this analysis. From the possible 130 independent variables collected via the management survey, a subset was selected for analysis consisting of the components of grazing systems and livestock distribution practices such as season, frequency, intensity of grazing, use of herding, off site livestock attractants, etc. A complete list of the independent variables offered to the original regression model is listed in Table 2. The results of this analysis are synthesized for the grazing manager and interested public in a draft extension education publication (Ward et al. In Progress #1) to be peer-reviewed and available free of charge on the web. The results of HAFDS and PFC analysis will be combined and made available to the scientific community via a peer-reviewed journal article (Ward et al. In Progress #2).

Objective 4: Guidelines for the Establishment and Monitoring of Riparian Grazing Case Studies…
We synthesized riparian monitoring recommendations from several sources based upon our data analysis, and input from natural resources agency staff and grazing managers. While many methods for monitoring change in riparian areas through time exist, few have direct applicability to the problem of evaluating changes in riparian health due to changes in grazing management. We field tested it during the establishment of the 20 demonstration sites (Objective 5). This extension product was submitted to formal peer-review and is currently in press as a free web-based product (Ward et al. In Press #3).

Objective 5: Establish 20 demonstration sites…
Twenty long-term demonstration sites were selected from the database of 300 sites surveyed for Objective 1. Sites were selected to represent major range types, landowner cooperation and long-term commitment to the management at the site. At each of the 20 sites, the Guidelines for the Establishment and Monitoring of Riparian Grazing Case Studies was employed to develop a baseline data set for the site. Additional data collected include photos, stream channel morphology, habitat type and quality, vegetation, water quality, and macro-invertebrate community. The Riparian Health Assessment Method for Rangelands, EPA HAFDS, NRCS VSA, and PFC were conducted.

Research results and discussion:

Objective 1. Survey of Grazed Rangeland Sites…
The survey of 300 riparian sites enrolled in the project was successfully completed. This unique and comprehensive dataset provides us with the opportunity to evaluate many aspects of the relationships between riparian health and grazing management. Since the data was collected from managed systems, at the scale at which grazing management decisions are made, and at the scale at which riparian areas function, it provides a valuable snapshot of how these complex systems work. The manner in which the grazing management data was collected lends itself well to future analysis of the costs of incremental improvement in riparian health stratified by management option selected to achieve the riparian resource improvement (i.e. herding, drift fencing, off-site water development, etc.). We also think that this cross-sectional approach to studying the relationships between management (be it grazing management or other land use) and ecosystem response offers a credible approach to understanding of what sustainable management is at the landscape scale. Most importantly, this approach to research provides the perfect opportunity to enroll producers in applied research projects, bringing their knowledge of practical livestock management to full use on the problem and building credibility for the eventual project results with the livestock industry. We feel that the results discussed below for Objective 2-4 illustrate the potential of this type of research approach.

Objective 2: Riparian Health Assessment Method for Rangelands…
The work conducted towards this objective has yielded two peer-reviewed publications, one applied research paper and one peer-reviewed extension education publication. The reader is referred to each publication for detailed results, we summarize the results of each publication here.

The applied research product was submitted to the Journal of Soil and Water Conservation for formal peer-review and is currently in press (Ward et al. In Press #1). Basically, visual assessments are integral components of several widely promoted efforts to assess the health of stream and riparian areas across the Nation. We applied the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Habitat Assessment Field Data Sheet (HAFDS), USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Stream Visual Assessment (SVA), and USDI Bureau of Land Management’s Proper Functioning Condition (PFC) assessment to 234 rangeland riparian areas to determine: 1) how well the assessments correlate, and 2) how site-specific stream and riparian characteristics affect the outcome of each assessment and thus the comparison of outcomes across stream types. HAFDS and SVA are habitat driven assessments which target similar parameters resulting in a strong positive correlation between these methods (r = 0.81). PFC focuses on parameters related to hydrologic function, thus a weaker correlation was found when comparing PFC to HAFDS and SVA methods (r = 0.58 and 0.54, respectively). A combination of one habitat assessment and PFC should be utilized to conduct a comprehensive assessment of riparian/stream health. Site characteristics which were significantly associated with assessment outcomes included entrenchment ratio, substrate size, channel width to depth and slope. This presents a problem in that comparison of assessment outcomes across different streams and stream reaches are confounded by factors such as slope and substrate type which may not always be indicative of riparian/stream health. The Rosgen Stream Morphology Classification system was used to successfully control for the effect of these site specific effects on assessment outcome, allowing for comparison of riparian/stream health assessments across streams.

Based upon the analysis reported in Ward et al. In Press #1, we were able to distill the 52 assessment questions contained in the 3 health assessment methods to a single set of 10 questions which provide essentially the same amount of information. The questions were reworded, with greater definition, to improve applicability to the grazing manager. This refined rangeland riparian health assessment method was submitted formal peer-review and is currently in press as a free web-based extension publication (Ward et al. In Press #2). The method we developed is a visual assessment. Visual assessments can be a straightforward and simple method for rangeland managers to make a “first-cut” evaluation of the overall health of riparian areas. Visual assessments are not intended to be comprehensive data-driven evaluations, nor are they intended to be monitoring tools for the documentation of riparian status through time. The power of a visual assessment is that it provides a simple and rapid tool allowing a local manager to make a time and cost-effective evaluation of the overall health of their riparian area(s). If the initial visual assessment indicates there is a problem, then a more detailed analysis of the system can be performed to identify the likely cause(s) of the problem, the possible linkage of the problem to management (current, past, or up-stream) or natural disturbance events (floods, fires, etc.), the possible change in management to correct the problem, and the type of monitoring needed to documents that the problem is corrected or needs additional management effort. In a minimal amount of time, managers can be trained on the prudent use of this visual assessment, thus greatly increasing the number of California’s rangeland riparian areas being assessed and managed.

Objective 3: Riparian Grazing Recommendations to Improve Riparian Resources…
Our initial analysis of the dataset collected in Objective 1 has provided valuable information about the relationships between common grazing management practices and riparian health. We are very excited that many simple, practical grazing management practices can have a positive impact on riparian health (EPA HAFDS Score; 0 = Unhealthy and 20 = Perfect Health). Table 3 reports the grazing management practices found to be significantly (p<0.10) related to riparian health. Equation 1 illustrates the final model reported in Table 3. The relationship (Equation 1) between each grazing management practice and riparian health revealed in our survey are also illustrated graphically for each grazing management practice (Figures 1-8). Supporting information from the riparian grazing management literature is also discussed. This information is currently being developed as both a peer-reviewed extension publication and a research journal paper.

Equation 1. Model Predicting Riparian Health (EPA HAFDS Score) by Grazing Management
EPA HAFDS = 15.70 - 0.25(Stocking Density as AU/ha) - 0.33(Grazing Frequency as times/yr) + 0.02(Herding as day/yr) + 0.05(Time Maintaining or Placing Off-Site Attractants as days/yr) + 0.003 (Rest Between Grazing as days) + 0.11(Grazing Frequency * Stocking Density).

Collectively, these grazing management practices can be utilized to improve riparian health on rangelands. While all of these recommendations are not feasible on every ranching operation, combinations of these practices are. Opportunities to: 1) reduce stock density, 2) reduce frequency of grazing, 3) increase rest between grazing, 4) increase efforts to herd livestock from riparian areas, and 5) increase the development and maintenance of off-site livestock attractants should be investigated and implemented on pastures containing riparian systems.

Stock Density
Holding all other grazing management factors constant, as stock density increased, riparian health decreased (Figure 1). As the number of livestock increases in a management unit, the potential for negative impacts to riparian health increase. The riparian zone will receive more grazing pressure on the vegetation, both herbaceous and woody species, and will receive more animal impact, or hoof impact, which in turn has the potential of degrading stream banks, increasing sedimentation, and degrading water quality (Kauffman and Krueger, 1984; Fleishner, 1994; Belsky et al., 1999; Rinne, 1999). Decreasing the stock density in a pasture should allow for smaller potential impacts to be incurred on the riparian area. Skovlin (1984) found that adjustments in grazing intensities often affect a greater response on a system than changes in the grazing system its self. Van Poollen and Lacey (1979) also point out that changes in both intensity and grazing system could be additive. Therefore reducing the stock density, in addition to changing the frequency of grazing, and rest between grazing do have a potential to lessen the impacts of livestock grazing.

Frequency of Grazing
As the frequency of grazing increases, riparian health decreases (Figure 2). As a system is repeatedly grazed within the same year, a decrease in riparian health can be expected. One possible interpretation is that grazing systems such as High Frequency Low Intensity (Vallentine, 1990) would decrease riparian health. This might be the case; however, it is important to note that the frequency of grazing alone does not define a grazing system. The definition of a rotational grazing system is based upon rest from grazing, timing, intensity, and duration of grazing as well as frequency of grazing. If this is kept in mind, the reduction in riparian health as a result of repeated grazing is logical. Daubenmire (1953) describes the effect of repeated grazing on both annual and perennial communities as a decrease in plant populations. As grazing pressure is increased through repeated grazing on annual communities, livestock can reduce the plants’ ability to set seed for the following year, and therefore reduce the number of annual plants present at a site. Perennial communities may be impacted by repeated grazing in the reduction of root reserves, also resulting in loss of vegetation.

Interaction of Frequency and Stock Density
A significant interaction exists between frequency of grazing and stock density (Figure 3). Heavier stock densities will have lower riparian health scores as frequency of grazing decreases to one. In other words, heavier stock densities in combination with little rotation of livestock degrade riparian health more compared to lighter stock densities with little rotation of livestock.

Rest Between Grazing
As rest between grazing increases, riparian health increases (Figure 4). Rest is a crucial component in defining grazing systems and has long been recognized for its importance in minimizing grazing effects on upland range plant communities (Kauffman and Krueger, 1984; Holechek et al., 1989; Vallentine, 1990). Rest from grazing allows the vegetation a chance to re-grow, maintain individual plant vigor and plant community composition and structure. The plant community plays an important role in the health and function of riparian areas and thus the associated stream. Healthy riparian vegetation is needed to stabilize banks, provide habitat for wildlife, and filter contaminants from overland flow (Kauffman and Krueger, 1984; Fleishner, 1994; Belsky et al., 1999; Rinne, 1999). Constant grazing pressure does not allow riparian vegetation to re-grow and perform its vital functions in a riparian area, especially in regard to stream bank stability. The compressive strength of a soil allows it to resist compression under pressure (Kleinfelder et al., 1992), thereby resisting stream bank erosion from animal impacts. The presence of vegetation increases the compressive strength through very fine roots (VFR), which also is a component of root length density (RLD) (Kleinfelder et al., 1992). Kleinfelder et al. (1992) discovered that there is a nonlinear relationship between VFR and compressive strength, suggesting that a substantial increase in compressive strength can be obtained from a moderate amount of root growth. Following the same pattern, an increase in RLD corresponds to an increase in compressive strength. Manning et al. (1989) have also identified that the RLD is more closely related to erosion control than simple belowground biomass. Therefore providing rest and allowing the vegetation an opportunity to maintain its VFR will maintain stream bank stability in relation to both compressive strength and RLD.

Herding
Increased time spent herding livestock to improve distribution and reduce time spent in the riparian area was associated with an increased riparian health (Figure 5). As one attempts to improve livestock distribution through herding, it would be expected that the preferred area, often the riparian area, would receive less use and therefore have a higher aquatic habitat potential. Skovlin (1984) stated that even reducing grazing intensities on uplands would not result in a proportional response on preferred meadows without proper distribution. Therefore, even after reducing stock density, it can still be expected that the livestock will have a tendency to congregate on the riparian area unless distribution practices, such as herding, are implemented. Herding can be utilized to introduce livestock to areas that are traditionally underutilized, and reduce concentrations on preferred areas (Cook, 1966, Bailey et al., 1996).

Off-site Attractant Time
Increasing the time spent providing off-site attractants was associated with an increase in riparian health (Figure 6). Off-site attractants include water, feed such as hay or grain, salt, minerals, or other supplements such as protein. Gillen et al. (1984) found that cattle preferred areas within 200 meters of water, and avoided areas greater than 600 meters from a water source. In a pasture where the only water source may be the stream, this would tend to concentrate livestock near the stream, resulting in a disproportionate amount of time livestock spend in the riparian area. Bailey et al. (1996) agree with Gillen et al. (1984) in that distance to water is a primary determinant of grazing distribution patterns. Creating a water source away from the stream encourages livestock to move away from the riparian area and utilize more of the uplands in the pasture. Gillen et al. (1984) also found salt placement to be a useful distribution practice for deferred-rotation grazing. The authors found that livestock preferred areas within 600 meters of the salt supplement. Dehydrated molasses was also found to have an effect in improving livestock distribution. Bailey and Welling (1999) and Bailey et al. (2001) found greater utilization around supplements, even if the supplement was placed in a traditionally underutilized area. Bailey et al. (2001) also found that by moving the supplement to different areas of the pasture, they could improve the distribution and utilization of the pasture. The time that a manager spends on providing off-site attractants has been shown to improve distribution in the literature, and is shown here to have a positive association with riparian health.

Example Use of this Information
Providing site-specific information regarding the relationships between management and riparian health allows the manager to make more informed management decisions regarding riparian grazing. For example, consider a grazing manager that has 120 cow-calf pair, 12,000 acre allotment on a National Forest with a grazing period of May 1 to October 30. One stream that crosses the allotment is of special concern regarding habitat for trout, and the manager would like to improve the riparian health while still grazing the allotment. The information above tells us the manager could expect herding, time spent placing/installing/maintaining off-site attractants, and rest between grazing will have significant positive relationships with aquatic habitat/health. Currently, herding and off-site attractant time is minimal, with typically 3 full days being spent on herding, and only half a day being spent on placing salt on the allotment. The expected riparian health score (HAFDS) under this management would be 15.25. The manager is not at this point able to increase the rest between grazing, but can make improvements in both herding and off-site attractant time. Figure 7 illustrates the increase the manager can expect from increasing time spent on herding and the time spent on off-site attractants to what would be feasible for the allotment, there is a potential increase in riparian health score of approximately 1.5 points over time. If there are changes in the turn on and off dates, and potential for rest between grazing in increased, then there is potential to increase the aquatic habitat even further (Figure 8).

Objective 4: Guidelines for the Establishment and Monitoring of Riparian Grazing Case Studies…
The work conducted towards this objective has yielded one peer-reviewed extension education publication (Ward et al. In Press#3). The reader is referred to this publication for detailed results, we summarize the publication here.

This monitoring document outlines methods that will assess current riparian conditions and quantify changes in a riparian area under new management. “Why should I monitor?” In establishing a new riparian grazing system, one would like to compare the success of a new system to the old. This provides validation that the new management is positively affecting riparian health and is a successful project, or that more management changes need to be implemented to obtain desired goals. There are numerous techniques available for managers to conduct their own monitoring. However, there is little guidance as to which tools will best show results to changes in riparian management. This document provides an outline for monitoring based upon published methods that will provide feedback to changes in riparian grazing management. “Should I monitor the same things as my neighbor?” If each individual manager implementing changes to their riparian area selects different monitoring tools, then they are not able to compare riparian health changes between their systems. By monitoring the same items at all sites, the information gathered can be shared among managers. “How soon will I see results?” Some changes in riparian health can be documented in the short term, a few months to a year, depending on the status of the area when management changes are implemented. Some changes in riparian health will be observed over the long-term, 2+ years. For example, within a year there could be an increase in willow growth (short term) but change in canopy will not occur for many years (long term). By standardizing the data that is collected when riparian grazing management is modified, it will allow for comparisons among various systems, and managers can then discuss what management practices were successful, and which ones were not. This provides one of the best learning opportunities land managers can access. Therefore, it is important that time and care is taken when the original data is gathered. Without adequate data collection at the beginning of the project, the following years of information will be of little importance.

Objective 5: Establish 20 demonstration sites…
Twenty demonstration sites were established across the State. Each site represents one or more of the positive grazing management recommendations provided under Objective 3. Health at each site was assessed with the Health Assessment Method for Rangelands, and baseline data was collected following the Guidelines for the Establishment and Monitoring of Riparian Grazing Case Studies. This information will be compiled and made available to local extension educators and technical support staff for use in Ranch Water Quality Planning Short Courses, field days, and other outreach venues.

Research conclusions:

The results of this project will increase the producer knowledge base on the effects which grazing practices have on riparian health and will increase their overall understanding of what riparian health is and why it is important. Increasing the manager’s understanding of riparian health and grazing management relationships will allow them to make sustainable riparian management decisions, thus improving health and function of western rangeland riparian areas. An aggressive and multi-venue educational approach is being used to make certain the results of this project are available to managers and other clientele. There are ~ 40 million acres of rangeland in CA. Because this project spans the major range types found in California and much of the west, we expect these results to have application across the western US. It is also important to note that this method of study is applicable across other rangelands in the west, and across other agricultural commodities such as row crop, dairies, etc. Beyond the impact this work can have with managers, we are realizing a significant impact with natural resources protection professionals. In August 2001, we were invited by the American Fisheries Association to sit on a panel of national riparian management experts and present our Riparian Friendly Grazing Management project at their national conference in Phoenix. This was a great opportunity to build relationships with fisheries experts and illustrate how a proactive riparian grazing management can lead to improved riparian health.

Participation Summary

Educational & Outreach Activities

Participation Summary:

Education/outreach description:

Results of this research are being disseminated to producers, industry groups, state and federal land management and regulatory agencies, researchers and other interested parties. Information is being extended via the UCCE-NRCS Ranch Water Quality Planning Short Course, through continuing education venues for professionals, and via peer-reviewed journal articles. By extending the results of this project at several technical levels, we expect to have maximum impact on management, agency, and scientific groups interested in this issue. A listing of publications and extension activities is listed below.

Thesis
Ward, T.A. A Cross-Sectional Survey of California’s Grazed Rangeland Riparian Areas. M.S. Thesis. University of California. Davis, CA. 75 pp.

In Press Publications
1. Ward, TA., K.W. Tate, E.R. Atwill, D.F. Lile, D.L. Lancaster, N.K. McDougald, S. Barry, R.S. Ingram, H.A. George, W.J. Jensen, W.E. Frost, R. Phillips, G.G. Markegard, S. Larson. 2003. A Comparison of Three Visual Assessments for Riparian and Stream Health. J. Soil and Water Conservation.

2. Ward, T.A., K.W. Tate, and E.R. Atwill. Riparian Health Assessment Method for Rangelands. UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Peer-Reviewed 8000 Series Publication.

3. Ward, T.A., K.W. Tate, and E.R. Atwill. Guidelines for Monitoring the Establishment of Riparian Grazing Systems. UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Peer-Reviewed 8000 Series Publication.

In Progress Publications
1. Ward, T.A., K.W. Tate, E.R. Atwill, D.F. Lile, D.L. Lancaster, N.K. McDougald, S. Barry, R.S. Ingram, H.A. George, W.J. Jensen, W.E. Frost, R. Phillips, G.G. Markegard, S. Larson. Relationships Between Grazing Management and Riparian Health. In preparation for Submission to J. Range Management or J. Environmental Quality in 2003.

2. Ward, T.A., K.W. Tate, E.R. Atwill. Riparian Grazing Management to Improve Rangeland Riparian Health. In preparation for Submission to UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources Peer-Reviewed 8000 Series Publication..

Abstracts
Ward, T.A., K.W. Tate, and E.R. Atwill. 2001. A Comparison of Three Riparian Resource Assessments. Society for Range Management, 54th Annual Meeting, Kona, HI.

Tate, K.W., T.A. Ward, and E.R. Atwill. 2001. Invited Presentation: A Case for Researchers and Managers Working Together to Identify Riparian Friendly Grazing Management. American Fisheries Society, 138th Summer Meeting, Phoenix, AZ.

Ward, T.A., K.W. Tate, and E.R. Atwill. 2002 A Cross-Sectional Survey of California’s Rangeland Riparian Areas. Society for Range Management, 55th Annual Meeting, Kansas City, MO.

Ward, T.A., K.W. Tate, and E.R. Atwill. 2002. A Cross-sectional Survey of California’s Grazed Rangeland Riparian Areas. Proceedings of the Riparian Habitat and Floodplain Conference. Sacramento, CA March 12-14, 2001.

Listing of Additional Audiences Results were Reported To:
California Cattlemen’s Association (2 presentations, 2 newsletters)
California Farm Bureau Federation (2 presentations)
UC Rangeland Watershed Workgroup (2 presentations)
NRCS Range Professional Continuing Education Workshop (1 presentations)
California Society for Range Management (2 presentations)
USFS Range, Fisheries, Wildlife Continuing Education Workshop (1 presentation)
California Board of Forestry (2 presentations)
Range Management Advisory Committee to CA BOF (2 presentations)
Management and Ecology of Annual Rangelands Workshop (1 presentation)
UCCE-NRCS Ranch Water Quality Planning Short Courses (6 presentations, 6 field days)

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

We are attempting to provide the ranch families of the west with economically feasible and tested grazing management options that allow them to continue grazing riparian areas and maintain their quality of life. The statistical analysis of grazing management effects on riparian health (Equation 1, Table 2-3, Figures 1-8) was conducted in such a manner as to lend the results to economic analysis (labor time, grazing days, etc.). If ranchers can put real value on their time, the cost of resting a pasture for X days, the cost of X days of livestock herding, etc. then they can compute for themselves the cost of each unit increase in riparian health. The costs will be site specific depending upon which grazing management tools the rancher implements, and the costs he/she operates under. If the rancher has several grazing management options available, then he/she can determine the cost benefit of various options as described above (Figures 7-8). Positive economic benefits of improved riparian health will result from enhanced fisheries, wildlife, and other tangible ecosystem services. Many of these services can be marketed via agricultural and environmental tourism, fishing and hunting clubs, etc. The financial contributions from industry to this project, and more importantly, the private land access and cooperation of hundreds of ranch families speaks to the real value they place in the results of this project.

Farmer Adoption

Rancher adoption of any new tool or recommendation is heavily dependent upon the credibility and feasibility of the information and the credibility of the group presenting it. Producer support for this project has been massive. Given the conflict that exists over riparian grazing, the fact that so many producers have been willing to participate in this project illustrates importance this information has to the livestock industry. It also illustrates the credibility and mutual respect which exists between the industry and our group. The initial seed funding for this work came from California Cattlemen’s Association and California Farm Bureau Federation, and we have worked hard to insure that this investment was wise. This project illustrates a framework that capitalizes on producer’s knowledge of their property and its management, and at the same time brings the technical and statistical skills of the researcher to bare on a common problem. The suite grazing management practices recommended to improve riparian health offer at least 1 or more feasible alternatives for any ranch. The results of this work are making their way back to ranchers via many outreach venues (field days, short courses, technical agency support staff, industry associations, demonstration sites, etc). For these reasons, we feel that rancher adoption of the results of this project will be high.

Recommendations:

Areas needing additional study

For maximum credibility of the results of this project (Objective 3 in particular) we need to re-confirmed with direct, physical measurements of riparian health stream health and additional analysis. We also feel that a simple, site-specific protocol to establish achievable riparian health targets for grazing managers needs to be developed. We have submitted a proposal to USDA-SARE to conduct this additional applied research and the extension of new results.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.