Cattle Grazing Compatible With Public Land Water Quality: Study

Cattle grazing and clean water can co-exist on public lands such as national forests without causing “hot spots of human health risk,” according to research by the University of California, Davis.

About 1.8 million livestock graze on national forest lands popular for recreation in the western U.S. each year, according to the study published yesterday in the journal Plos One that was conducted in 2011.

“There’s been a lot of concern about public lands and water quality, especially with cattle grazing,” said Leslie Roche, a postdoctoral candidate in UC Davis’s Department of Plant Sciences who co-wrote the study. “We’re able to show that livestock grazing, public recreation and the provisioning of clean water can be compatible goals.”

Researchers analyzed water samples including fecal bacteria from streams along with ranchers, Forest Service staff and environmentalists from 155 sites across five national forests and recreational lands in northern California.

“There is no real evidence that we’re creating hot spots of human health risk with livestock grazing in these areas,” Kenneth Tate, a Cooperative Extension specialist in UC Davis’s plant sciences department, said in a statement.

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