OSU Professor Proposes Rangeland Reserves

Nov 15, 2012

An Oregon State University professor is calling on federal managers to reduce livestock grazing on public range land. He says the combined effects of climate change and grazing can damage the soil and water. Amelia Templeton of Earthfix reports.

Ecology professor Robert Beschta looked at the impact of cattle and sheep on public lands in the West. Beschta relied on earlier field research to draw his conclusions.

He says grazing can compact soils, increase erosion, and reduce the leafy cover near streams. Those effects could be compounded by warming temperatures and changes in rainfall.

Beschta argues the Bureau of Land Management should create new range reserves that are off limits to grazing.

Beschta: “We need some landscape level set asides, or reserves. In which we can see how the whole system is responding to a changing climate.”

A spokesman with the BLM says the agency is in the middle of its own assessment of what climate change will mean for its forests and rangelands.

That assessment should be complete early next year.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio