Water: Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments
E. Grazing Management
- Protect range, pasture and other grazing lands:
- By implementing one or more of the following to protect sensitive areas (such as streambanks, wetlands, estuaries, ponds, lake shores, and riparian zones):
- Exclude livestock,
- Provide stream crossings or hardened watering access for drinking,
- Provide alternative drinking water locations,
- Locate salt and additional shade, if needed, away from sensitive areas, or
- Use improved grazing management (e.g., herding)
- to reduce the physical disturbance and reduce direct loading of animal waste and sediment caused by livestock; and
- By achieving either of the following on all range, pasture, and other grazing lands not addressed under (1):
- Implement the range and pasture components of a Conservation Management System (CMS) as defined in the Field Office Technical Guide of the USDA-SCS (see Appendix 2A of this chapter) by applying the progressive planning approach of the USDA-Soil Conservation Service (SCS) to reduce erosion, or
- Maintain range, pasture, and other grazing lands in accordance with activity plans established by either the Bureau of Land Management of the U.S. Department of the Interior or the Forest Service of USDA.
The management measure is intended to be applied by States to activities on range, irrigated and nonirrigated pasture, and other grazing lands used by domestic livestock. Under the Coastal Zone Act Reauthorization Amendments of 1990, States are subject to a number of requirements as they develop coastal nonpoint programs in conformity with this measure and will have some flexibility in doing so. The application of management measures by States is described more fully in Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program: Program Development and Approval Guidance, published jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Range is those lands on which the native vegetation (climax or natural potential plant community) is predominantly grasses, grasslike plants, forbs, or shrubs suitable for grazing or browsing use. Range includes natural grassland, savannas, many wetlands, some deserts, tundra, and certain forb and shrub communities. Pastures are those lands that are primarily used for the production of adapted, domesticated forage plants for livestock. Other grazing lands include woodlands, native pastures, and croplands producing forages.
The major differences between range and pasture are the kind of vegetation and level of management that each land area receives. In most cases, range supports native vegetation that is extensively managed through the control of livestock rather than by agronomy practices, such as fertilization, mowing, irrigation, etc. Range also includes areas that have been seeded to introduced species (e.g., crested wheatgrass), but which are extensively managed like native range. Pastures are represented by those lands that have been seeded, usually to introduced species (e.g., tall fescue) or in some cases to native plants (e.g., switchgrass), and which are intensively managed using agronomy practices and control of livestock.
The focus of the grazing management measure is on the riparian zone, yet the control of erosion from range, pasture, and other grazing lands above the riparian zone is also encouraged. Application of this management measure will reduce the physical disturbance to sensitive areas and reduce the discharge of sediment, animal waste, nutrients, and chemicals to surface waters. For information regarding potential problems caused by grazing, see Sections I.F.2 and I.F.6 of this chapter.
The key options to consider (all are not required by this management measure) when developing a comprehensive grazing management approach at a particular location include the development of one or more of the following:
- Grazing management systems. These systems ensure proper grazing use through:
- Grazing frequency (includes complete rest);
- Livestock stocking rates;
- Livestock distribution;
- Timing (season of forage use) and duration of each rest and grazing period;
- Livestock kind and class; and
- Forage use allocation for livestock and wildlife.
- Proper water and salt supplement facilities.
- Livestock access control.
- Range or pasture rehabilitation.
For any grazing management system to work, it must be tailored to fit the needs of the vegetation, terrain, class or kind of livestock, and particular operation involved.
For both pasture and range, areas should be provided for livestock watering, salting, and shade that are located away from streambanks and riparian zones where necessary and practical. This will be accomplished by managing livestock grazing and providing facilities for water, salt, and shade as needed.
Special attention must be given to grazing management in riparian and wetland areas if management measure objectives are to be met. For purposes of this guidance, riparian areas are defined (Mitsch and Gosselink, 1986; Lowrance et al., 1988) as:
Vegetated ecosystems along a waterbody through which energy, materials, and water pass. Riparian areas characteristically have a high water table and are subject to periodic flooding and influence from the adjacent waterbody.
The health of the riparian system, and thus the quality of water, is dependent on the use, management, and condition of the related uplands. Therefore, the proper management of riparian and wetland ecosystems will involve the correct management of livestock grazing and other land uses in the total watershed.
Conservation management systems (CMS) include any combination of conservation practices and management that achieves a level of treatment of the five natural resources (i.e., soil, water, air, plants, and animals) that satisfies criteria contained in the Soil Conservation Service (SCS) Field Office Technical Guide (FOTG), such as a resource management system (RMS) or an acceptable management system (AMS). These criteria are developed at the State level, with concurrence by the appropriate SCS National Technical Center (NTC). The criteria are then applied in the provision of field office technical assistance, under the direction of the District Conservationist of SCS. In-state coordination of FOTG use is provided by the Area Conservationist and State Conservationist of SCS.
The range and pasture components of a CMS address erosion control, proper grazing, adequate pasture stand density, and range condition. National (minimum) criteria pertaining to range and pasture under an RMS are applied to achieve environmental objectives, conserve natural resources, and prevent soil degradation.
The practical limits of resource protection under a CMS within any given area are determined through the application of national social, cultural, and economic criteria. With respect to economics, landowners will not be required to implement an RMS if the system is generally too costly for landowners. Instead, landowners may be required to implement a less costly, and less protective, AMS. In some cases, landowner constraints may be such that an RMS or AMS cannot be implemented quickly. In these situations, a "progressive planning approach" may be used to ultimately achieve planning and application of an RMS or AMS. Progressive planning is the incremental process of building a plan on part or all of the planning unit over a period of time. For additional details regarding CMS, RMS, and AMS, see Appendix 2A of this chapter.
3. Management Measure Selection
This management measure was selected based on an evaluation of available information that documents the beneficial effects of improved grazing management (see "Effectiveness Information" below). Specifically, the available information shows that (1) aquatic habitat conditions are improved with proper livestock management; (2) pollution from livestock is decreased by reducing the amount of time spent in the stream through the provision of supplemental water; and (3) sediment delivery is reduced through the proper use of vegetation, streambank protection, planned grazing systems, and livestock management.
4. Effectiveness Information
Hubert et al. (1985) showed in plot studies in Wyoming that livestock exclusion and reductions in stocking rates can result in improved habitat conditions for brook trout (Table 2-19) . In this study, the primary vegetation was willows, Pete Creek stocking density was 7.88 ac/AUM (acres per animal unit month), and Cherry Creek stocking density was 10 cows per acre.
Platts and Nelson (1989) used plot studies in Utah to evaluate the effects of livestock exclusion on riparian plant communities and streambanks. Several streambank characteristics that are related to the quality of fish habitat were measured, including bank stability, stream shore depth, streambank angle, undercut, overhang, and streambank alteration. The results clearly show better fish habitat in the areas where livestock were excluded (Table 2-20).
Kauffman et al. (1983) showed that fall cattle grazing decreases the standing phytomass of some riparian plant communities by as much as 21 percent versus areas where cattle are excluded, while causing increases for other plant communities. This study, conducted in Oregon from 1978 to 1980, incorporated stocking rates of 3.2 to 4.2 ac/AUM.
Eckert and Spencer (1987) studied the effects of a three-pasture, rest-rotation management plan on the growth and reproduction of heavily grazed native bunchgrasses in Wyoming. The results indicated that range improvement under this otherwise appropriate rotation grazing system is hindered by heavy grazing. Stocking rates on the study plots ranged from 525 to 742 cow-calf AUMs.
In a literature review, Van Poollen and Lacey (1979) showed that herbage production was greater for managed grazing versus continuous grazing, greater for moderate versus heavy intensity grazing, and greater for light- versus moderate-intensity grazing.
McDougald et al. (1989) tested the effects of moving supplemental feeding locations on riparian areas of hardwood range in California. With stocking rates of approximately 1 ac/AUM, they found that moving supplemental feeding locations away from water sources into areas with high amounts of forage greatly reduces the impacts of cattle on riparian areas (Table 2-21).
Miner et al. (1991) showed that the provision of supplemental water facilities reduced the time each cow spent in the stream within 4 hours of feeding from 14.5 minutes to 0.17 minutes (8-day average). This pasture study in Oregon showed that the 90 cows without supplemental water spent a daily average of 25.6 minutes per cow in the stream. For the 60 cows that were provided a supplemental water tank, the average daily time in the stream was 1.6 minutes per cow, while 11.6 minutes were spent at the water tank. Based on this study, the authors expect that decreased time spent in the stream will decrease bacterial loading from the cows.
Tiedemann et al. (1988) studied the effects of four grazing strategies on bacteria levels in 13 Oregon watersheds in the summer of 1984. Results indicate that lower fecal coliform levels can be achieved at stocking rates of about 20 ac/AUM if management for livestock distribution, fencing, and water developments are used (Table 2-22). The study also indicates that, even with various management practices, the highest fecal coliform levels were associated with the higher stocking rates (6.9 ac/AUM) employed in strategy D.
Lugbill (1990) estimates that stream protection in the Potomac River Basin will reduce total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP) loads by 15 percent, while grazing land protection and permanent vegetation improvement will reduce TN and TP loads by 60 percent. Owens et al. (1982) measured nitrogen losses from an Ohio pasture under a medium-fertility, 12-month pasture program from 1974 to 1979. The results included no measurable soil loss from three watersheds under summer grazing only, and increased average TN concentrations and total soluble N loads from watersheds under summer grazing and winter feeding versus watersheds under summer grazing only (Table 2-23).
Data from a comparison of the expected effectiveness of various grazing and streambank practices in controlling sedimentation in the Molar Flats Pilot Study Area in Fresno County, California indicate that planned grazing systems are the most effective single practice for reducing sheet and rill erosion (Fresno Field Office, 1979). Streambank protection is expected to be the most effective single practice for reducing streambank erosion. Other practices evaluated are proper grazing use, deferred grazing, emergency seeding, and livestock exclusion.
5. Range and Pasture Management Practices
As discussed more fully at the beginning of this chapter and in Chapter 1, the following practices are described for illustrative purposes only. State programs need not require implementation of these practices. However, as a practical matter, EPA anticipates that the management measure set forth above generally will be implemented by applying one or more management practices appropriate to the source, location, and climate. The practices set forth below have been found by EPA to be representative of the types of practices that can be applied successfully to achieve the management measure described above.
The U.S. Soil Conservation Service practice number and definition are provided for each management practice, where available. Also included in italics are SCS statements describing the effect each practice has on water quality (USDA-SCS, 1988.)
Grazing Management System Practices
Appropriate grazing management systems ensure proper grazing use by adjusting grazing intensity and duration to reflect the availability of forage and feed designated for livestock uses, and by controlling animal movement through the operating unit of range or pasture. Proper grazing use will maintain enough live vegetation and litter cover to protect the soil from erosion; will achieve riparian and other resource objectives; and will maintain or improve the quality, quantity, and age distribution of desirable vegetation. Practices that accomplish this are:
- a. Deferred grazing (352): Postponing grazing or resting grazing land for prescribed period.
In areas with bare ground or low percent ground cover, deferred grazing will reduce sediment yield because of increased ground cover, less ground surface disturbance, improved soil bulk density characteristics, and greater infiltration rates. Areas mechanically treated will have less sediment yield when deferred to encourage re-vegetation. Animal waste would not be available to the area during the time of deferred grazing and there would be less opportunity for adverse runoff effects on surface or aquifer water quality. As vegetative cover increases, the filtering processes are enhanced, thus trapping more silt and nutrients as well as snow if climatic conditions for snow exist. Increased plant cover results in a greater uptake and utilization of plant nutrients.
- b. Planned grazing system (556): A practice in which two or more grazing units are alternately rested and grazed in a planned sequence for a period of years, and rest periods may be throughout the year or during the growing season of key plants.
Planned grazing systems normally reduce the system time livestock spend in each pasture. This increases quality and quantity of vegetation. As vegetation quality increases, fiber content in manure decreases which speeds manure decomposition and reduces pollution potential. Freeze-thaw, shrink-swell, and other natural soil mechanisms can reduce compacted layers during the absence of grazing animals. This increases infiltration, increases vegetative growth, slows runoff, and improves the nutrient and moisture filtering and trapping ability of the area.
Decreased runoff will reduce the rate of erosion and movement of sediment and dissolved and sediment-attached substances to downstream water courses. No increase in ground water pollution hazard would be anticipated from the use of this practice.
- c. Proper grazing use (528): Grazing at an intensity that will maintain enough cover to protect the soil and maintain or improve the quantity and quality of desirable vegetation.
Increased vegetation slows runoff and acts as a sediment filter for sediments and sediment attached substances, uses more nutrients, and reduces raindrop splash. Adverse chemical effects should not be anticipated from the use of this practice.
- d. Proper woodland grazing (530): Grazing wooded areas at an intensity that will maintain adequate cover for soil protection and maintain or improve the quantity and quality of trees and forage vegetation.
This practice is applicable on wooded areas producing a significant amount of forage that can be harvested without damage to other values. In these areas there should be no detrimental effects on the quality of surface and ground water. Any time this practice is applied there must be a detailed management and grazing plan.
- e. Pasture and hayland management (510): Proper treatment and use of pasture or hayland.
With the reduced runoff there will be less erosion, less sediment and substances transported to the surface waters. The increased infiltration increases the possibility of soluble substances leaching into the ground water.
Alternate Water Supply Practices
Providing water and salt supplement facilities away from streams will help keep livestock away from streambanks and riparian zones. The establishment of alternate water supplies for livestock is an essential component of this measure when problems related to the distribution of livestock occur in a grazing unit. In most western states, securing water rights may be necessary. Access to a developed or natural water supply that is protective of streambank and riparian zones can be provided by using the stream crossing (interim) technology to build a watering site. In some locations, artificial shade may be constructed to encourage use of upland sites for shading and loafing. Providing water can be accomplished through the following Soil Conservation Service practices and the stream crossing (interim) practice (practice "m") of the following section. Descriptions have been modified to meet CZM needs:
- f. Pipeline (516): Pipeline installed for conveying water for livestock or for recreation.
Pipelines may decrease sediment, nutrient, organic, and bacteria pollution from livestock. Pipelines may afford the opportunity for alternative water sources other than streams and lakes, possibly keeping the animals away from the stream or impoundment. This will prevent bank destruction with resulting sedimentation, and will reduce animal waste deposition directly in the water. The reduction of concentrated livestock areas will reduce manure solids, nutrients, and bacteria that accompany surface runoff.
- g. Pond (378): A water impoundment made by constructing a dam or an embankment or by excavation of a pit or dugout.
Ponds may trap nutrients and sediment which wash into the basin. This removes these substances from downstream. Chemical concentrations in the pond may be higher during the summer months. By reducing the amount of water that flows in the channel downstream, the frequency of flushing of the stream is reduced and there is a collection of substances held temporarily within the channel. A pond may cause more leachable substance to be carried into the ground water.
- h. Trough or tank (614): A trough or tank, with needed devices for water control and waste water disposal, installed to provide drinking water for livestock.
By the installation of a trough or tank, livestock may be better distributed over the pasture, grazing can be better controlled, and surface runoff reduced, thus reducing erosion. By itself this practice will have only a minor effect on water quality; however when coupled with other conservation practices, the beneficial effects of the combined practices may be large. Each site and application should be evaluated on their own merits.
- i. Well (642): A well constructed or improved to provide water for irrigation, livestock, wildlife, or recreation.
When water is obtained, if it has poor quality because of dissolved substances, its use in the surface environment or its discharge to downstream water courses the surface water will be degraded. The location of the well must consider the natural water quality and the hazards of its use in the potential contamination of the environment. Hazard exists during well development and its operation and maintenance to prevent aquifer quality damage from the pollutants through the well itself by back flushing, or accident, or flow down the annular spacing between the well casing and the bore hole.
- j. Spring development (574): Improving springs and seeps by excavating, cleaning, capping, or providing collection and storage facilities.
There will be negligible long-term water quality impacts with spring developments. Erosion and sedimentation may occur from any disturbed areas during and immediately after construction, but should be short-lived. These sediments will have minor amounts of adsorbed nutrients from soil organic matter.
Livestock Access Limitation Practices
It may be necessary to minimize livestock access to streambanks, ponds or lakeshores, and riparian zones to protect these areas from physical disturbance. This could also be accomplished by establishing special use pastures to manage livestock in areas of concentration. Practices include:
- k. Fencing (382): Enclosing or dividing an area of land with a suitable permanent structure that acts as a barrier to livestock, big game, or people (does not include temporary fences).
Fencing is a practice that can be on the contour or up and down slope. Often a fence line has grass and some shrubs in it. When a fence is built across the slope it will slow down runoff, and cause deposition of coarser grained materials reducing the amount of sediment delivered downslope. Fencing may protect riparian areas which act as sediment traps and filters along water channels and impoundments.
Livestock have a tendency to walk along fences. The paths become bare channels which concentrate and accelerate runoff causing a greater amount of erosion within the path and where the path/channel outlets into another channel. This can deliver more sediment and associated pollutants to surface waters. Fencing can have the effect of concentrating livestock in small areas, causing a concentration of manure which may wash off into the stream, thus causing surface water pollution.
- l. Livestock exclusion (472): Excluding livestock from an area not intended for grazing.
Livestock exclusion may improve water quality by preventing livestock from being in the water or walking down the banks, and by preventing manure deposition in the stream. The amount of sediment and manure may be reduced in the surface water. This practice prevents compaction of the soil by livestock and prevents losses of vegetation and undergrowth. This may maintain or increase evapotranspiration. Increased permeability may reduce erosion and lower sediment and substance transportation to the surface waters. Shading along streams and channels resulting from the application of this practice may reduce surface water temperature.
- m. Stream crossing (interim): A stabilized area to provide access across a stream for livestock and farm machinery.
The purpose is to provide a controlled crossing or watering access point for livestock along with access for farm equipment, control bank and streambed erosion, reduce sediment and enhance water quality, and maintain or improve wildlife habitat.
Vegetative Stabilization Practices
It may be necessary to improve or reestablish the vegetative cover on range and pastures to reduce erosion rates. The following practices can be used to reestablish vegetation:
- n. Pasture and hayland planting (512): Establishing and reestablishing long-term stands of adapted species of perennial, biannual, or reseeding forage plants. (Includes pasture and hayland renovation. Does not include grassed waterways or outlets or cropland.)
The long-term effect will be an increase in the quality of the surface water due to reduced erosion and sediment delivery. Increased infiltration and subsequent percolation may cause more soluble substances to be carried to ground water.
- o. Range seeding (550): Establishing adapted plants by seeding on native grazing land. (Range does not include pasture and hayland planting.)
Increased erosion and sediment yield may occur during the establishment of this practice. This is a temporary situation and sediment yields decrease when reseeded area becomes established. If chemicals are used in the reestablishment process, chances of chemical runoff into downstream water courses are reduced if application is applied according to label instructions. After establishment of the grass cover, grass sod slows runoff, acts as a filter to trap sediment, sediment attached substances, increases infiltration, and decreases sediment yields.
- p. Critical area planting (342): Planting vegetation, such as trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, or legumes, on highly erodible or critically eroding areas. (Does not include tree planting mainly for wood products.)
This practice may reduce soil erosion and sediment delivery to surface waters. Plants may take up more of the nutrients in the soil, reducing the amount that can be washed into surface waters or leached into ground water.
During grading, seedbed preparation, seeding, and mulching, large quantities of sediment and associated chemicals may be washed into surface waters prior to plant establishment.
- q. Brush (and weed) management (314): Managing and manipulating stands of brush (and weeds) on range, pasture, and recreation and wildlife areas by mechanical, chemical, or biological means or by prescribed burning. (Includes reducing excess brush (and weeds) to restore natural plant community balance and manipulating stands of undesirable plants through selective and patterned treatments to meet specific needs of the land and objectives of the land user.)
Improved vegetation quality and the decrease in runoff from the practice will reduce the amount of erosion and sediment yield. Improved vegetative cover acts as a filter strip to trap the movement of dissolved and sediment attached substances, such as nutrients and chemicals from entering downstream water courses. Mechanical brush management may initially increase sediment yields because of soil disturbances and reduced vegetative cover. This is temporary until revegetation occurs.
- r. Prescribed burning (338): Applying fire to predetermined areas under conditions under which the intensity and spread of the fire are controlled.
When the area is burned in accordance with the specifications of this practice the nitrates with the burned vegetation will be released to the atmosphere. The ash will contain phosphorous and potassium which will be in a relatively highly soluble form. If a runoff event occurs soon after the burn there is a probability that these two materials may be transported into the ground water or into the surface water. When in a soluble state the phosphorous and potassium will be more difficult to trap and hold in place. When done on range grasses the growth of the grasses is increased and there will be an increased tie-up of plant nutrients as the grasses' growth is accelerated.
Selection of Practices
The selection of management practices for this measure should be based on an evaluation of current conditions, problems identified, quality criteria, and management goals. Successful resource management on range and pasture includes appropriate application of a combination of practices that will meet the needs of the range and pasture ecosystem (i.e., the soil, water, air, plant, and animal (including fish and shellfish) resources) and the objectives of the land user.
For a sound grazing land management system to function properly and to provide for a sustained level of productivity, the following should be considered:
- Know the key factors of plant species management, their growth habits, and their response to different seasons and degrees of use by various kinds and classes of livestock.
- Know the demand for, and seasons of use of, forage and browse by wildlife species.
- Know the amount of plant residue or grazing height that should be left to protect grazing land soils from wind and water erosion, provide for plant regrowth, and provide the riparian vegetation height desired to trap sediment or other pollutants.
- Know the range site production capabilities and the pasture suitability group capabilities so an initial stocking rate can be established.
- Know how to use livestock as a tool in the management of the range ecosystems and pastures to ensure the health and vigor of the plants, soil tilth, proper nutrient cycling, erosion control, and riparian area management, while at the same time meeting livestock nutritional requirements.
- Establish grazing unit sizes, watering, shade and salt locations, etc. to secure optimum livestock distribution and proper vegetation use.
- Provide for livestock herding, as needed, to protect sensitive areas from excessive use at critical times.
- Encourage proper wildlife harvesting to ensure proper population densities and forage balances.
- Know the livestock diet requirements in terms of quantity and quality to ensure that there are enough grazing units to provide adequate livestock nutrition for the season and the kind and classes of animals on the farm/ranch.
- Maintain a flexible grazing system to adjust for unexpected environmentally and economically generated problems.
Special requirements to protect threatened or endangered species.
6. Cost Information
Much of the cost associated with implementing grazing management practices is due to fencing installation, water development, and system maintenance. Costs vary according to region and type of practice. Generally, the more components or structures a practice requires, the more expensive it is. However, cost-share is usually available from the USDA and other Federal agencies for most of these practices.
a. Grazing Facilities
Principal direct costs of providing grazing facilities vary from relatively low variable costs of dispersed salt blocks to higher capital and maintenance costs of supplementary water supply improvements. Improving the distribution of grazing pressure by herding or strategically locating grazing facilities to draw cattle away from streamside areas can result in improved utilization of existing forage.
The availability and feasibility of supplementary water development varies considerably between arid western areas and humid eastern areas, but costs for water development, including spring development and pipeline watering, are similar (Table 2-24 (10k)).
b. Livestock Exclusion
Principal direct costs of livestock exclusion are the capital and maintenance costs for fencing to restrict access to streamside areas or the cost of herders to achieve the same results. In addition, there may be an indirect cost of the forage that is removed from grazing by exclusion.
There is considerable difference between multistrand barbed wire, chiefly used for perimeter fencing and permanent stream exclusion and diversions, and single- or double-strand smoothwire electrified fencing used for stream exclusion and temporary divisions within permanent pastures. The latter may be all that is needed to accomplish most livestock exclusion in smaller, managed pastures in the East (Table 2-25).
Principal direct costs of improving or reestablishing grazing land include the costs of seed, fertilizer, and herbicides needed to establish the new forage stand and the labor and machinery costs required for preparation, planting, cultivation, and weed control (Table 2-26). An indirect cost may be the forage that is removed from grazing during the reestablishment work and rest for seeding establishment.
d. Overall Costs of the Grazing Management Measure
Since the exact combination of practices needed to implement the management measure depends on site-specific conditions that are highly variable, the overall cost of the measure is best estimated from similar combinations of practices applied under the Agricultural Conservation Program (ACP), Rural Clean Water Program (RCWP), and similar activities. Cost data from the ACP programs are summarized in Table 2-27.