Evaluating Livestock Grazing Use With Streambank Alteration Protocols: Challenges and Solutions
Keywordsallowable use standards
annual monitoring indicators
MetadataShow full item record
CitationHeitke, J. D., Henderson, R. C., Roper, B. B., & Archer, E. K. (2008). Evaluating livestock grazing use with streambank alteration protocols: challenges and solutions. Rangeland Ecology & Management, 61(6), 647-655.
PublisherSociety for Range Management
JournalRangeland Ecology & Management
AbstractAppropriate management of livestock in riparian areas can help ensure that these ecosystems are maintained. We evaluated how one indicator of livestock grazing in riparian areas, streambank alteration, was affected by choices related to protocols and personnel used for these assessments. We found that although streambank alteration protocols were generally repeatable among observers, results were affected by factors not directly related to grazing intensity, including 1) training, 2) professional background, 3) location and intensity of measurements, and 4) the protocol used. Training reduced estimates of alteration and observer variability. Rangeland professionals had higher estimates of streambank alteration than seasonal technicians. Rapid assessments of alteration were correlated with more intensive estimates; however, the relationship was not 1:1. Different protocols resulted in different alterations estimates when alterations at the same locations were estimated. Given the large number of monitoring programs, personnel, and methods used to assess streambank alteration, we suggest more thought be given on how to standardize monitoring efforts so results consistently reflect the true amount of alteration at a site. We also remind managers that no protocol can be implemented without some error. Managers should therefore be careful when taking action based on a single evaluation—especially when the result is near a management standard or threshold. When these concerns are addressed, indicators such as streambank alteration can help ensure management decisions maintain both sustainable allotments and landscapes.