Degraded Willow Wetland in Big Meadows

Within the Klamath Mountains and throughout the West one can find large, one-half acre and larger dense stands of willows along streams and over wetlands. Large, dense willow stands shade streams, protect the wetlands beneath and provide breeding habitat for Willow flycatchers, ¬†Lazuli buntings, Yellow warblers and other birds. Unfortunately, cattle, elk and deer all find willows delicious food, particularly after the first frosts in the fall. Elk and deer only browse on the edges; but when cattle are allowed unfettered access to these stands they not only browse them from the borders but also push into the stands to get at the wetland grasses and sedges growing under the willows and along streams. Destruction of breeding habitat by grazing cattle is the #1 reason Willow flycatchers are listed as “endangered” pursuant to the California Endangered Species Act.

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