Since its inception in 2009, The Project to Reform Public Land Grazing in Northern California has utilized volunteers and interns to monitor grazing on-the-ground within Northern California wilderness and other public lands. All on-the-ground monitoring, including monitoring conducted by Project staff, is 100% volunteer. If you can carry a pack and hike off-trail, you can monitor how grazing is managed on Northern California’s public lands. And, with a little bit of training and support, you can monitor and document the negative results of poorly managed public land grazing on your own or with friends.
On-the Ground grazing monitoring as practiced by the Project involves walking those parts of wilderness areas and other public lands where livestock grazing occurs. We walk the grazing allotments from May through October conducting surveys and using photographs and video to document the impacts to springs, stream-side vegetation, water quality, meadows and wetlands that result from poorly managed grazing.
While it is certainly impossible to eliminate all the negative impacts of grazing on water quality, riparian areas and wetlands, negative impacts within Northern California’s wet meadow headwaters could be substantially reduced if Forest Service managers would require that grazing permit holders implement modern grazing management methods, including regular herding to rotate grazing among the various pastures on an allotment. Presently, however, permit holders place their cattle on the public lands in the spring or summer and don’t return until mid to late October when the snow flies and cattle must be taken to the home ranch. Some grazing permit holders have become so lax that they do not even collect their cattle in the fall. Instead they allow their livestock to wander home on their own while continuing to graze on national forest land.
Allowing cattle to remain unmanaged on public land for months on end always leads to degraded water quality, trashed riparian areas and trampled wetlands. This is just one of the many instances of lax Forest Service grazing management which the project hopes to change. Trampled springs like the one in the photo are a common sight on Northern California’s public land grazing allotments and a clear indicator of inadequate Forest Service grazing management.
The Grazing Reform Project
The Project is sponsored by three environmental organizations: the Environmental Protection Information Center (EPIC), the Klamath Forest Alliance and Wilderness Watch. All on-the-ground grazing monitoring is 100% volunteer. The Project has received support for on-the-ground monitoring expenses from the Fund For Wild Nature, the Giles W. and Elsie G. Mead Foundation and from a group of EPIC donors.