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Individual study: Removal of livestock grazing along a semi-desert stream allows reestablishment of peachleaf willow Salix amygdaloides, Rattlesnake Springs, Washington, USA

Published source details

Rickard W.H. & Cushing C.E. (1982) Recovery of streamside woody vegetation after exclusion of livestock grazing. Journal of Range Management, 35, 360-361


Small streams in semiarid sagebrush steppe of northwestern USA are typically bordered by narrow strips of deciduous trees, usually cottonwoods Populus spp. and willows Salix spp. The wildlife value of these habitats is high, and especially important for birds. In some areas where livestock concentrate, this riparian woody vegetation has been lost. This study reports on woody vegetation recovery along a small, permanent spring stream, Rattlesnake Springs, (Washington State) after exclusion of livestock by fencing.

The site has a long history of livestock grazing (cattle, sheep and horses). In 1943, the area was incorporated into the ‘Hanford Site’ (Dept. of Energy) and livestock grazing was discouraged. A few cattle and horses continued to water until 1962, when a 324 ha (800 acre) fenced exclosure to exclude livestock was erected around the stream.

In 1963, aerial photographs showed the virtual absence of woody vegetation. Ground surveys found only a few scattered, broken topped, peachleaf willow trees Salix amygdaloides.

Removal of livestock grazing along the desert stream allowed re-establishment of peachleaf willow in the riparian zone within 10 years. By 1980 a thick border of Salix had re-established. The woody plant community is now browsed by a few wild mule deer Odocoileus hemionus and elk Cervus canadensis.
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