Management of livestock distribution is a critical management activity to enhance and sustain riparian health in mountain meadow grazing systems. Simple distribution tools such as herding, salting, and off-stream water are effective for protecting riparian areas, but management effort must be invested to assure success. Expectations for stream health based upon macroinvertebrate metrics must account for inherent site differences in stream substrate type.
These ideas are aimed to stimulate thinking within Sierra Club and other public land activist networks about what might be accomplished to reform National Forest Grazing, both administratively and via legislation, with a new administration and new Congress in 2021. Some of the suggestions also apply to grazing on federal lands administered by the US Bureau of land Management. My hope is that there can be a process within these networks leading up to January 2021 which is focused and ready to push for reforms if conditions are favorable.
Poorly managed grazing on public or on private land typically results in damage to water quality, riparian areas, wetlands and wildlife habitat. In California National Forests livestock grazing has been shown to result in violation of water quality standards for fecal coliform and nutrients in headwater streams that should be providing our highest quality water. Livestock waste is deposited into waterbodies or into positions where runoff, snowmelt or high water will deliver the waste to streams.