Confirmation of Riparian Friendly Grazing Project Results and Development of Achievable, Site Specific Reference Conditions for Grazed Riparian Areas
The project goal is to identify grazing practices which maintain riparian health and are feasible for the rancher. This project is built upon rancher cooperation, knowledge, and access to management information and private property. Data on aquatic macroinvertebrate community, riparian characteristics, and riparian grazing management has been collected from 180 rangeland riparian sites on private and public rangelands across the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. Analysis of macroinvertebrate samples is 75% complete. Upon completion these data will be analyzed to quantify associations between riparian health and grazing management, and to establish achievable expectations for rangeland riparian health in the region.
Objective 1: Confirm the potential for site-specific grazing management practices to enhance important riparian health metrics, clearly documenting the potential for sustainable riparian grazing.
Objective 2: Develop a protocol to establish achievable, site-specific expectations for riparian health, which provides grazing managers with riparian health targets.
Objective 3: Extend the riparian grazing management recommendations developed from this work to private and public land grazing managers, as well as to regulatory and natural resources agencies.
We commenced the project on July 1, 2003. During the first field season (July – September 2003) we collected aquatic macroinvertebrate and associate riparian health data from 130 sampling locations across 60 rangeland riparian systems in the Sierra Nevada Range. During the second field season (July – September 2004) we collected aquatic macroinvertebrate and associate riparian health data from 50 sampling locations across 25 additional rangeland riparian systems. These sites included riparian areas on private and public lands, including Yosemite and Lassen Volcanic National Parks. Grazed study sites were selected from the pool of sites used in the previous “Riparian Friendly Grazing Project”. We contacted all participating landowners and managers, securing permission to visit the sites and collect macroinvertebrate and riparian health data. All participants we contacted provided us with permission, and most accompanied our field crew on the site visit. Taxonomic analysis of the 130 samples collected in the 2003 field season is complete, and 2004 samples are currently being analyzed. Data on riparian health and grazing management are currently being complied into a single dataset for integration with macroinvertebrate data upon completion. Statistical analysis of the data set will occur within 2-3 months upon completion of macroinvertebrate analysis. Extension of results will commence as soon as statistical analysis is complete and results established.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
This two-year project is still in the laboratory and data analysis phase, with specific results and outcomes scheduled for extension starting the middle to end of year 2. In general, the results of this project will increase the producer knowledge base on the effects of grazing practices on riparian health and will increase their overall understanding of what riparian health is and why it is important. Increasing managers 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 has been established to make certain the results of this project are available to managers and other clientele groups.