EC Bar Ranch Riparian Grazing Management Project

2004 Annual Report for FW03-002

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2003: $7,500.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2005
Region: Western
State: Arizona
Principal Investigator:
James Crosswhite
EC Bar Ranch

EC Bar Ranch Riparian Grazing Management Project


The EC Bar Ranch, located in the White Mountains of eastern Arizona at 7,600 feet elevation, had been neglected and overgrazed for 30 years before it was purchased in 1996 by James Crosswhite, project coordinator. Crosswhite purchased 275 acres in 1996 and an additional 115 acres in 2000. Nutrioso Creek, which runs 2.5 miles through the ranch, suffered from bank degradation and erosion, impairing water quality. What’s more, the earth ditch irrigation system was in disrepair, allowing thousands of gallons of water diverted from the creek for irrigation to be lost each year to seepage and evaporation.

With his Western SARE grant, Crosswhite has undertaken the restoration of the rangeland and riparian area by controlling and eradicating rabbitbrush so native grasses can be planted, increasing forage production on the top of banks within the riparian pasture area.

In the process of controlling unwanted vegetation and reseeding with natural grasses, Crosswhite is monitoring livestock use and its effects on riparian health, soil stability, water quality and vegetation.

• Develop monitoring techniques that will allow timely rotation of livestock through riparian pastures
• Measure forage production in all parts of the project area in transects before and after and establish photo points for reference
• Develop protocols for grazing that can be duplicated by other ranchers and farmers

Selected areas of the ranch were mowed and seeded between June and September 2003. Root plowing was scheduled for June 2004 to reduce the risk of killing grasses.

On May 16, 2003, baseline data were collected by setting up transects locations and taking photos before the treatments and the growing season. Vegetation data were collected Sept. 19, 2003, using the Step-point method and more photos were taken.

Crosswhite noted that, because of the Western SARE grant, he has considered, and taken action on, additional dormant-season riparian pasture grazing methods.

He outlined other activities that were planned for the duration of the project:

• In September 2004, estimate forage production to determine the number of livestock that could eat the forage to determine the intensity and duration of the dormant-season grazing period.
• Begin grazing livestock in the project area beginning in November 2004 for the dormant season, allowing livestock entry after the grass exceeds a predetermined stubble height on floodplains and terraces and removing livestock when the grass is grazed to a predetermined stubble height.
• Provide results, with before-and-after photos, on the EC Bar Ranch Web site,, in December 2004 to encourage others to adopt results and information.
• Incorporate the project information into a livestock management plan for EC Bar Ranch.

Early indications are that the work Crosswhite has conducted on his ranch, both with support of the SARE grant and with his own resources, has increased ranch forage, improved the stream flow and quality and improved the riparian zone stability.

None reported.

None reported.

About 25 people have visited the project so far. Crosswhite’s focus is to demonstrate how the integration of conservation and sustainable agriculture practices can improve ranching economics, water quality and wildlife habitat while meeting public policy objectives.


Brian Sorenson

Technical Advisor