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Cattle Grazing: A multi-faceted attack on biodiversity of forests & public lands

Cattle Grazing: A multi-faceted attack on biodiversity of forests & public lands . Greg Schneider Founding Director, Friends of Sycamore Valley Board Member, Regional Parks Association. Redwood-Sequoia Congress October 26, 2003. Introduction. Redwood Forests vs. Oak woodlands

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Cattle Grazing: A multi-faceted attack on biodiversity of forests & public lands

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  1. Cattle Grazing: A multi-faceted attack on biodiversity of forests & public lands Greg Schneider Founding Director, Friends of Sycamore Valley Board Member, Regional Parks Association Redwood-Sequoia Congress October 26, 2003

  2. Introduction • Redwood Forests vs. Oak woodlands • Research – have extensively studied the impacts of cattle grazing for the last 5 years • Published two reports on Sycamore Valley Open Space (EBRPD) • 5 years of data from SVOS so far, continuing to monitor Redwood - Sequoia Congress October 26, 2003

  3. Topics of Discussion • Grazing on public lands – forests, rangeland and urban open space • How grazing impacts environment • Review some SVOS study data that shows effects of introducing and excluding cattle • Whose paying the bill • Voluntary Grazing Permit Buyout Legislation • How you can make a difference Redwood - Sequoia Congress October 26, 2003

  4. Grazing on Public Lands • 92% of BLM land in the West is leased for livestock production • 69% of USFS land in the West is leased for livestock production • 1.4% of US cattle producers are ranching on Western BLM & USFS lands • 4% of beef production occurs on Western lands • 300 million acres of public land at stake! • Taxpayers pay up to $500 million a year • Rancher pays $1.35/month per AUM on federal lands BLM USFS Redwood - Sequoia Congress October 26, 2003

  5. Myths About Cows • cows are educated -- they selectively graze to enhance biodiversity • cows are disciplined – they know when to stop eating and do not overgraze • cows are compassionate -- they share forage with the wildlife • cows are thoughtful – they do not intrude on or consume habitat of wildlife • cows are smart -- they walk around wetlands, seeps and creeks Redwood - Sequoia Congress October 26, 2003

  6. Cow Realities • Cows cannot discern between sensitive and non-sensitive plants • Cows eat whatever is available and don’t just stop when the RDM level is met • Cows compete directly with wildlife for forage most often resulting in diminishing wildlife populations • Cows wander constantly disturbing wildlife nesting areas and eating vegetation needed for cover and habitat • Cows destroy wetland areas & habitat as well as consuming its vegetation • Cows compress soils, destroy their sensitive biotic crusts and can cause serious erosion Redwood - Sequoia Congress October 26, 2003

  7. Grazing Realities • Since 1860’s livestock have overgrazed, trampled and fouled streams, helping drive fish, birds & other animals to brink of extinction. • 1994 USFS report cited cattle grazing as the #1 cause of species being put on ESL in the SW and #4 cause nationwide. • BLM cites only 36% of streams surveyed in the lower 48 states are healthy, largely due to cattle grazing. • 1989 EPA survey concluded that stream areas throughout much of the West were in their worst condition in history. Redwood - Sequoia Congress October 26, 2003

  8. Does grazing always have negative impacts? • Grazing impacts are universal • Can’t we just reduce the herd size? • Types of damage inflicted not dependent upon herd size • The larger the herd, the greater the intensity of the damage • Other factors are land characteristics, fauna & flora, weather and season • Very strict grazing regimes possible but not considered economically infeasible Redwood - Sequoia Congress October 26, 2003

  9. Long Term Effects of Grazing Redwood - Sequoia Congress October 26, 2003

  10. Grazing Impacts on Forests • Fire cycles – loss of “light” or “cool” burns resulting in hotter, more damaging fires from fuel buildup • Reduces fire-carrying ability of litter and grasses • Increased tree density as seedlings have less competition from grazed grasses • Soil compaction: less absorption & more runoff • Spread of exotic weeds & pathogens • Can change plant community • Loss of seedling regeneration due to seed capture Redwood - Sequoia Congress October 26, 2003

  11. Damage – Streams Ungrazed Grazed Redwood - Sequoia Congress October 26, 2003

  12. Effect of Excluding Cattle from Creeks 4/27/00 4/27/00 Redwood - Sequoia Congress October 26, 2003

  13. After Cattle Excluded from Creek 4/5/00 4/5/00 6/9/03 6/9/03 Redwood - Sequoia Congress October 26, 2003

  14. Cumulative Damage – Seeps 3/22/02 2/25/01 Redwood - Sequoia Congress October 26, 2003

  15. Damage – Trees Redwood - Sequoia Congress October 26, 2003

  16. Cumulative Damage – Trees 3/30/00 1/29/00 Redwood - Sequoia Congress October 26, 2003

  17. Damage – Oak Forest Understory Ungrazed Grazed Redwood - Sequoia Congress October 26, 2003

  18. Damage – Oak Seedlings Redwood - Sequoia Congress October 26, 2003

  19. Cumulative Damage – Oak Seedlings 6/13/01 10/26/02 9/27/03 9/27/03 Redwood - Sequoia Congress October 26, 2003

  20. Cumulative Damage – Native Plants 1/29/00 2/15/00 10/23/01 Redwood - Sequoia Congress October 26, 2003

  21. Cumulative Damage – Coyote Shrub 4/19/99 11/23/01 6/13/03 Redwood - Sequoia Congress October 26, 2003

  22. Damage – Dry Erosion Redwood - Sequoia Congress October 26, 2003

  23. Damage – Hydrologic Erosion Trail Redwood - Sequoia Congress October 26, 2003

  24. Movements Toward Positive Change • National Public Lands Grazing Campaign • Voluntary Permit Buyout • $175 per AUM – one time payment based upon 10 yr average of fees • Complete buyout would save taxpayers $5.7-$9.9 billion • More stringent monitoring programs • More litigation against public agencies not conforming to laws Redwood - Sequoia Congress October 26, 2003

  25. What You Can Do • Visit public lands in your area and know who grazes and manages them • Learn more about the impacts of grazing • Monitor lands near you, document damage and report to responsible agencies • Communicate to others that there is no other single opportunity for potential environmental restoration as could be achieved by ending public lands grazing Redwood - Sequoia Congress October 26, 2003

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