• Impact of Various Range Improvement Practices on Watershed Protection Cover and Annual Production Within the Colorado River Basin

      Hessary, I. K.; Gifford, G. F. (Society for Range Management, 1979-03-01)
      During 1976 a study of annual production and cover (litter + rock + vegetation) on various range improvement practices was conducted in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. The range improvement practices studied included gully plugs, contour furrowing, pitting, pinyon-juniper chaining, and various sagebrush control treatments. Results from studies of annual production on treated vs untreated sites indicated that: (a) about 33% of the contour furrowed sites had significant increases in annual production. Best responses were found on loam and clay loam soils, while soils of sandy loam or clay texture indicated a poor response to treatment. Soils classified as typical ustifluvents and ustollic haplargids were most favorable in terms of increased production; (b) annual production on pinyon-juniper chainings was significantly increased across a variety of soil types (growth of trees excluded). The greatest increases in production were measured on sites with loam soils classified as typic haplustolls; (c) neither of the two pitting treatments on a clay and a sandy clay loam site indicated increased annual production; (d) less than 50% of the various sagebrush treatments indicated increased annual production. There appears to be a general trend for best responses on loam soils, though significant decreases in production were also indicated on this type of soil; (e) plowing was the least successful sagebrush treatment studied. Best cover responses on the various range improvement practices were found on contour furrowing treatments on sandy clay loam and loam textured soils and on typic torriorthent or ustic torriorthent soil types. Though significant cover increases due to chaining of pinyon and juniper were noted on 57% of the treatments, on a variety of soil textures and soil types, the increases were uniformly small (tree cover included) and no clear pattern emerged with either soil texture or soil type. Only about 20% of the various sagebrush treatments showed significant increases in cover; 10% indicated decreased cover, and there was no impact on cover on the remaining 70% of the treatments. Pitting treatments in this study had no impact on cover. Age of contour furrow treatments made little difference as to whether there was a significant increase or decrease in either production or cover. Cover data from pinyon-juniper chainings indicate either that significant increases in cover (if they occur) are slightly more dramatic on more recent teatments, or that treatments approximately 11 years old represent conditions most ideal for enhanced cover. The former interpretation is probably more nearly correct. Production data suggests that pinyon-juniper sites chained since 1964 are not as favorable in terms of increased production as those chained prior to 1964. Age of sagebrush treatment had no impact on significant changes in cover; however, a general trend indicated that production increases are slightly higher for more recent sagebrush ripping and sagebrush chaining treatments than for older ones.