DRAMATIC RIPARIAN AND RANGELAND RESTORATION: PROPERLY DESIGNED GRAZING PLANS WITH CONSISTENT APPLICATION IS THE KEY

Author: 
Ricketts, Matthew J.
Publisher: 
Society for Range Management
Publication Year: 
2018
Description: 
The Taylor ranch, of Edgar, Montana, has followed a 7 pasture deferred-rest rotation grazing system for´┐Ż21 years. The change on the landscape has been remarkable. One example is in June of 2011 where Cottonwood creek, which runs through the ranch, experienced a 150 year flood. Head cuts formed above and below this property, but the head cuts stopped once they reached the Taylor place due to the outstanding condition of the riparian. A riparian forest exists where once only widely scattered 100 year old plains cottonwood (Populus deltoides) existed. Now the ranch has all size and age classes, and both plains and narrowleaf cottonwood (Populus angustifolia) along with preferred climax forb species like Maximilians sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani). Management has improved the forage productivity and forb diversity which benefits sage grouse, their chicks, and the insects they feed on. Not only are sage grouse benefiting from better nesting, brood rearing, and wintering habitat, but so are sharptail grouse, Hungarian partridge, non-game birds, deer, and many other wild species. Not to mention the health and productivity of the cattle. Neighboring ranches have been watching. The Grewell ranch just downstream began a 9 pasture deferred rotation system in 2013. Already change is evident on both the riparian and the uplands. The fences on the upland are obscured by the improved growth of bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata) and the stream channel is narrowing, with creeping spikerush (Eleocharis palustris) increasing dramatically along with plains cottonwood seedlings. Other ranches show improvement in both upland and riparian conditions with the application of deferred rotation and twice through grazing strategies over a 7 year time frame. These ranchers feel the most important thing they did to control weeds was to apply properly designed grazing management. Properly designed grazing plans, with consistent application, are keys to ecological restoration.
Conference Name: 
SRM Reno, NV
Conference Date: 
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Resource Type: 
Text
Document Type: 
Conference Proceedings
Society for Range Management

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