A good friend of mine who has spent a career working for the um, 'other' agency that addresses grazing gave me his perspective on the piece above. He is a very reasonable guy who understands that working together, *with respect and courtesy* for famlies that have grazing permits, is the best way forward. Here are his words:
Here is a link to the April 2010 Stanislaus Forest Plan Direction.
http://fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMEN ... 154788.pdf
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It provides the broad strokes. What I am suggesting is that those interested
could focus in on, for example, the current livestock management regime of
the allotments (what are the terms and conditions of the grazing permits
that authorize the grazing use) where the CSERC conducted their studies and
inquire how or to what extent that the current livestock management is
consistent with the Forest Plan objectives and management requirements (for
example RCO objective 5 p. 195) and if it is not, what the expectation is
for changing those terms and conditions (e.g. one year out, three years out,
or what) given the resources management priorities and workload relative to
staff capability. The line of inquiry would be "which allotment(s) are these
meadows in?; what are the terms and conditions of the current permits that
authorize grazing use in those allotments?; where those terms and conditions
adhered to by the grazing operator?; and if not, what sanctions have been
imposed, if any on the operator for violating the terms and conditions? And
if none, why not? And so forth and so on. "Fixing" grazing use occurs on a
permit by permit basis.
The CSERC site referred to the "four meadows in the Stanislaus Forest" but
did not state within which allotment(s) they are in. They do claim they are
applicable across the forest and across the Sierra because all have similar
"best management practices." I am not sure that that line of reasoning
holds, actually, given my experience administering grazing permits, but I do
know that we have those permittees who want to do their best and others who
tell us to **** off and I expect it is no different in the USFS.
One guy and four gals on the CSERC staff - they got spunk, that's for sure.
I would not say that I was startled at their results. I do wonder though,
what the water quality was, at the same location, post-grazing, in the fall.
I would suspect that the ecoli, coliform count, etc., etc., substantially
abated probably within a month of the cattle leaving the pasture - and this
might be a trade-off acceptable to the USFS - given the "multiple use"
mission and all - I don't know. Also, this is an interesting quote from
the article: "Then the staff measures those same areas again near the end
of the grazing season to compare measurements. Using the Forest Service's
own protocols, CSERC has found that most years there are many areas where
livestock grazing violates the agency's clearly spelled out standards and
guidelines. Utilization of meadow grasses by livestock is either beyond the
limits or stubble height standards are not met." And later: "John began
visiting four meadows where monitoring from previous years showed that cows
grazed fairly early in the summer season." Typically for stubble height
measurements, you would take the final measurement at the end of the growing
season, not grazing season. "Early on and early off" is a accepted
technique for managing riparian areas. In other words, the riparian area
vegetation continues to grow after the livestock have left, (if you mowed
your lawn on July 15th down to 1 inch, then continued to water it, but did
not mow it again, would it still be at one inch on September 30th?) and the
necessary vegetation for armoring the banks against spring run off the
following year exists, and so forth and so on. So without detailed
examination of all these factors I am not particularly ready to draw
conclusions from what is written on the CSERC website as to whether
"violations" have occurred.