Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Grazing impacts last a long time

DenverPost.com - Soil fertility's fall from graze:
Today, in many desert canyonlands and plateaus of Utah and western Colorado, dark crusts of microscopic organisms normally hold soils in place, [University of Colorado ecologist Jason] Neff said.

But cow hooves can loosen that biological glue, the ecologist and his U.S. Geological Survey colleagues report in the current issue of the journal Ecological Applications.



Appropriate land management depends on the sort of landscape a person wants, and that may differ, depending on whether the person is a rancher, an off-roader, a hiker or a mountain biker, Neff said.

“There are multiple possible solutions to that question,” he said. “But it's probably about time we started talking about grazing in the West again.”
This is very interesting stuff. Thirty years after grazing ended, the areas are still dustier, which means their soils are still less fertile. And Neff's quote is great. Jason Neff is clearly an effective speaker, and his point is well taken. Multiple land users mean multiple strategies, and a balance between them. If grazing has such a dramatic impact, it ought to be more carefully balanced against other uses.

In other news, Artificial Watering Threatens Mojave Wildlife; Political Appointees at Interior Vetoed Park Objections:

A top political appointee of the Bush Administration has overruled the National Park Service and ordered it to allow the installation of artificial water systems in California’s Mojave National Preserve. …

Paul Hoffman, a former Dick Cheney aide serving as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, intervened to quash Park Service objections about adding more artificial water sources (called “guzzlers”). Hoffman, who has no biological training and spent the ten years prior to his appointment by President Bush at the Cody Wyoming Chamber of Commerce, contends guzzlers enhance “coyote and varmint hunting” on the Preserve, according to one of his emails.
“Sound science.”