The University of Arizona

Early season utilization of mountain meadow riparian pastures.

W.P. Clary, G.D. Booth


Observations suggest spring grazing of riparian areas is a good management strategy because of a reduced tendency for cattle to concentrate along streams during that season. In this study, June cattle distribution was examined within 4 experimental pastures located along Stanley Creek, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Sawtooth National Forest, in central Idaho. Two pastures were grazed at a light stocking rate and 2 pastures were grazed at a medium stocking rate. Streamside graminoid utilization averaged about 24% under light stocking, while on the adjacent meadow graminoid utilization was 28%. Under medium stocking the average utilization at streamside was 37%, while that on the adjacent meadow was 50%. Residual herbaceous stubble heights under light stocking were 11 to 12 cm for both grazing locations, whereas streamside and meadow stubble heights were 10 cm and 7 cm, respectively, under moderate stocking. Cattle were not disproportionately attracted to the streamside areas during the June period. As stocking rates increased from light to medium, the cattle concentrated most of their additional use on the adjacent drier meadow. Utilization of riparian plant communities during this early summer period had no relationship to the amount of plant moisture content, but was negatively associated with surface soil moisture.


riparian grasslands;Idaho;grazing intensity;grazing;beef cattle

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