Symposium Summary: Sustainable Ungulate Grazing in Riparian Rangelands: Oxymoron or Reachable Goal?
[email protected] Read the symposium abstracts here.Sponsors: USDA Forest Service, NOAA, Trout Unlimited Despite outcry over the detrimental effects of overgrazing by livestock on riparian habitats and endangered fish, grazing remains one of the most common uses of public land in the United States and contributes to the sustainability of rural economies and landscapes. But when is grazing overgrazing? The USDA Forest Service and NOAA convened a symposium to open a dialog about this issue and explore ecological and social concerns. Nine speakers presented research findings and discussed options for providing habitat for both livestock and wildlife while protecting riparian vegetation and water quality. For example, new research shed light on the effectiveness of restoration treatments focused on salmon recovery, showing that browsing by deer and elk may prevent establishment of key native riparian hardwoods. Other studies demonstrated that managing the timing, duration, and frequency of grazing can improve conditions for trout, and that reintroduction of beaver may help increase hydraulic diversity and promote riparian vegetation growth. To date, grazing management in the face of the Endangered Species Act has been contentious and litigious. Many echoed the idea that healthy streams are a product of public/private partnerships. The final presenter, a rancher implementing restoration practices on her family ranch, summed it up: “Relationships heal rivers.” — Nathaniel Gillespie, USDA Forest Service,