Range Management Handbook
Range Management Handbook Chronicles Habitat Restoration
|The Mortensons focused on rebuilding streambanks - by carefully managing grazing and planting woody vegetation - to improve water quality and herd health. Cattle photo by Todd Epp; range photo by Tom Bare, SDSU|
For many Great Plains ranchers, perhaps no issue is as important as how to better manage riparian areas. Herds grazing year-round can take a toll on streambanks and riparian vegetation, which affect water quality and biodiversity. Ranchers who want to lessen their impact on riparian areas while improving herd productivity can emulate the successes of the Mortenson family, described in a new handbook published by South Dakota State University with SARE support. "Cattle and Trees at Home on the Range" outlines 50 years of the family's restoration work. Among their strategies: rotating cattle through pastures more quickly to encourage vegetative regrowth along streams; reviving woody vegetation to shelter cattle, resulting in lower calf mortality; and building small dams to help slow water flow and rebuild eroded floodplains. So far, about 5,000 handbooks have been distributed, including some to each South Dakota county extension office. The Mortensons' prairie restoration work, furthered when Jeff Mortenson received a SARE producer grant in 1994 to establish native plants for forage, erosion control and other benefits, also will be featured as part of a traveling library display created by Smithsonian Institution.
[For more information about this North Central Region project, go to www.sare.org/projects/ and search for North Central/LNC96-108 and FNC94-070]