Healthy riparian areas have great value including soil stabilization of creek banks, water quality, habitat for fish-wildlife-insects and the microbiome that flourishes above and beneath the soil. When cared for properly not only are those sites beautiful, the positive environmental repercussions are tremendous.
Much time and study has been given as to how to enhance those precious resource areas of the rangeland. It seems that most of time the suggested treatment is to fence the area out from livestock grazing. While I have not had the opportunity to observe many of those fenced out areas, I do have the privilege of observing riparian areas that have not been fenced out and are simply part of a planned grazing program. (Properly applied animal impact should never be ruled out of any rangeland management program, as it is one of the key components creating a successful rangeland management program.) While the riparian areas within the ecosystem of West Central Texas tend to eb and flow rather dramatically as to the amount of water present, properly grazed areas seem to continually improve- regardless of the amount of rainfall God blesses us with.
Results of a riparian area within one of those ‘properly grazed’ areas. After being grazed for 25 days, cattle were removed from this pasture some 40 days ago and will be rested for 225 days. Make note of the large Switchgrass plant at start of video and the Redberry Cedar at the end. The Cedar shows the current water level is above normal, many other plants seen indicate a consistent water source. (Cat Tails-Button Bush-Sedges-and many more)
THE BETTER IT GETS THE FASTER IT GETS BETTER.
One thought on “Healthy Riparian Areas”
Even ephemeral riparian areas (e.g. arroyos) can benefit from this approach, though many (if not most) have prior degradation issues that may require additional attention (google Bill Zeedyk for examples). With deferred grazing, annoying annuals like cockleburr can get crowded out by perennial grasses like vine mesquite.