While sheep and even goats are grazed on our public lands, most public land grazing in Northern California is by cattle. When cattle are not herded regularly to provide a respite from grazing by rotating the herd among the various meadows that provide forage, the herd will find a location within the grazing allotment which they prefer and remain there until all available forage has been eaten or until they are moved by the owners. Even though herding and rest-rotation grazing are best management practices, passive continuous grazing is the rule on most public land grazing allotments. Typically livestock owners place their animals on the public range and don’t return for 3 or more months when it is time to take the herd home for the winter. As a result, those portions of public land grazing allotments which cattle prefer are trashed while other areas remain ungrazed year after year. This willow wetland has been grazed so heavily for so long that it has become severely fragmented and is being slowly converted from willow wetland to moist grassland.
This 14-page photo-illustrated document reports on the water quality and habitat degradation Project volunteers found in 28 days spent monitoring cattle grazing on 3 national forests during 2015.
Hydrologist Jonathan Rhodes visited the Big Meadows Allotment in the Marble Mountain Wilderness during October 2015. His photo-illustrated report discusses what he found.