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Benefits of Grazing Animals

Grazing animals can be an important factor in maintaining balanced and diverse ecosystems.

Fire Hazard Reduction

Properly managed livestock grazing helps to reduce fire hazards by controlling the amount and distribution of grasses and other potential fuel. Livestock grazing is conducted under a highly regulated license based upon accepted principles of range management, with due consideration for the forage needs of deer and other wildlife, and a desire for protection of sensitive environments. The District has had more than 40 years of experience with this system and found it to be sound for parklands.

Benefits to Plant Life

Open grasslands and woodlands are generally dominated by non-native and/or invasive annual grasses and herbs, in some cases coyote brush and poison oak.

The vegetation, when left unmanaged, tends to inhibit the germination and growth of other plants by using up most of the available water and mineral resources in the soil and by producing large amounts of thatch.

Livestock grazing controls the growth of the non-native grasses and herbs so that other desirable plants (wildflowers and native grasses) can regenerate and coexist with them. Many plants, including several endangered species, require grazing to maintain viable populations.

Livestock grazing is used in conjunction with prescribed fire, the careful application of herbicides and mowing to promote a healthy, diverse grassland environment.

Benefits to Wildlife

Well-managed livestock grazing increases the diversity of habitats available to wildlife species. Many species, including several endangered species, benefit form the vegetation management performed by livestock.

Ground squirrel colonies in grazed areas support the foraging needs of predators like bobcats and golden eagles and at the same time, recreate underground tunnels that are used by insects, reptiles, amphibians, and many small mammals. The protected California tiger salamander and the red-legged frog both utilize burrows during the non-breeding season. Burrowing owls, kit fox, and badgers occupy them as well.

Ponds developed for livestock watering support large numbers of breeding amphibians, which also feed on the abundant insect life found in the grasslands. Proper utilization of livestock grazing promotes healthier, diverse wildlife populations in parks.

Download: Managing Rangelands to Benefit California Red-Legged Frogs & California Tiger Salamanders Adobe Acrobat PDF