California Study Shows Ranchers’ Time Investments Improve Riparian Health

Rangeland ecologists at the University of California, Davis, studied 46 grazing units on ranches and national forests covering nearly 1 million acres of dry, rugged rangeland in east-central and northeastern California. They looked at the relationship between number of livestock, management effort in terms of time investment, and riparian health. The team found no significant relationship between riparian health, number of livestock, and simple yes/no answers on whether ranchers used fencing, herding, or water and salt licks on hillsides to coax cattle from creeks. There was, however, a significant correlation between riparian health and time spent implementing those tools. When ranchers invested even one week a year in implementing grazing-management practices, riparian health improved by as much as 53%.”[T]his study suggests that how you implement the tools might be the biggest factor in keeping rangelands productive and environmentally sustainable,” noted one of the participating scientists.