Grazing Monitoring on the Six Rivers National Forest

February, 2018


Wetland trampled at Alex Hole - Rogue Siskiyou National Forest

Poorly managed grazing has resulted in bank and wetland trampling, water quality degradation and the removal of willow shade at Alex Hole, the headwaters of Elliot Creek below the Siskiyou Crest on the Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest. Photo: Felice Pace.

This spring, the North Group will join the Project to Reform Public Land Grazing in Northern California ( to begin monitoring how grazing is managed on national forest land in the upper Mad River Basin.

Since the summer of 2010, Grazing Reform Project volunteers have monitored 18 grazing allotments on three national forests, including allotments within the Marble Mountain, Russian Peaks and Trinity Alps Wilderness and along the Siskiyou Crest west of Mount Ashland. Many allotments have been visited multiple times; volunteers sometimes “adopt” grazing allotments on national forest lands they frequent.

While we sometimes monitor for species impacted by grazing, including the Willow flycatchers and Cascade frog, most monitoring focuses on impacts to water quality, riparian areas and wetlands.

The Project has published 29 photo- illustrated Allotment Monitoring Reports (available at: documenting conditions on grazing allotments and the poor management practices which degrade water quality, riparian areas and wetlands. As Chapter Grazing Chair, I’ve used documentation from the Project’s reports to advocate for grazing reform.

Tyler Meadows - Grider Creek Roadless Area.

Tyler Meadows will be degraded if Klamath National Forest managers follow through on their proposal to introduce cattle grazing into the Grider Creek Roadless Area, a key salmon watershed. Photo: Felice Pace.

Our calls for on-the-ground grazing management reforms go to District Rangers and Forest Supervisors, the officials responsible for assuring that private grazing is managed responsibly on public land. We also ask Regional Water Board officials to get Forest Service managers to require regular herding and other management measures needed to protect water quality. Modern grazing management practices can’t eliminate grazing’s negative impacts, but their proper use can dramatically reduce those impacts.

The failure of Forest Service and Water Board officials to require that grazing permit holders implement modern grazing management practices is the primary reason water quality standards are being violated, riparian areas are being degraded, and wetlands are being destroyed. Unherded cattle congregate in headwater wetlands. e constant trampling year after year damages the basins’ water holding capacity, resulting in increased flood flows and decreased late summer and fall streamflow. Diminished flows and poor water quality hurt salmon and other aquatic organisms. Poorly managed public land grazing is a major reason salmon stocks are not recovering even in streams emerging from wilderness.

The Project and Redwood Chapter also challenge the renewal of grazing permits, especially when the same poor practices are allowed to continue. As I write, we await a Forest Service decision which may seek to extend grazing into the Grider Creek key watershed and roadless area. at area has not been grazed for decades. Riparian areas and wetlands have recovered; we don’t want them newly degraded.

This spring, the Grazing Reform Project will monitor public land grazing in the upper Mad River Basin for the first time. On-the-ground monitoring is 100 percent volunteer. Volunteer training is hands-on, conducted in the field. Small grants pay mileage for volunteer monitors.

As a result of monitoring and advocacy, we are finally seeing modest improvement in grazing management in the Klamath National Forest. To join volunteer efforts to extend that advocacy to the Upper Mad River and to reform public land grazing across Northern California, send a message to [email protected] and I will contact you. e more pressure we can put on Forest Service and Water Board officials to reform grazing, the sooner grazing-caused degradation will end.



One need not be a Sierra Club member to participate in these outings. Please join us!

Saturday, February 24—North Group Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park Ossagon to Carruthers Cove Hike. Hike this trail from south to north. We will drop off a car at the Carruthers end, and the present tide table shows an ebbing tide conducive to this late-winter coastal adventure. Bring lunch and water. Medium difficulty, 4.5 miles, less than 1,000 feet elevation change. Carpools: Meet 9 a.m. at Ray’s shopping center in Valley West. Leader Ned, [email protected], 707-825- 3652 message phone. Heavy rain cancels.

Sunday, March 25—North Group Humboldt Redwoods State Park Avenue of the Giants Hike. Two separate trails, about a mile apart, take us to a view of the Eel River from High Rock (an actual rock along the river), and to a grove of stately redwoods about 1,000 feet above. Bring lunch and water. Medium difficulty, 5 miles, 1,000 feet elevation change. Carpools: Meet 9 a.m. at Herrick Avenue Park & Ride in Eureka. Leader Ned, [email protected], 707-825-3652 message phone. Heavy rain cancels. 


Please Join Us!

The North Group’s Executive Committee meets on the second Tuesday of each month in the first floor conference room at the Adorni Center on the waterfront in Eureka. The meeting, which covers regular business and conservation issues, begins at 6:45 PM. Members and non-members with environmental concerns are encouraged to attend. When a new person comes to us with an environmental issue or concern, we often place them first or early on the agenda. 



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