Determining the Rate of Return of Cattle Grazing After Wildfires

Riparian after a fire

The BLM handbook on riparian recovery after a wildfire calls for providing a rest period or deferment from grazing to meet emergency stabilization and burned area rehabilitation goals and objectives.  

Both the Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation Handbook and the Riparian Proper Functioning Condition Assessment methods aim to ensure stability during floods.  PFC guides grazing regulations and the Elko District returns grazing after fire closure only after making a one-step improvement in PFC ratings.  However PFC is a qualitative assessment. 

Recently, a new methodology, Riparian Multiple Indicator Monitoring, has become the standard for measurable riparian monitoring, while satisfying important components of the PFC. MIM measurements have been suggested for post-fire monitoring and objectives, but it is unclear how fast various changes would occur after fire and therefore the amount of time needed to meet various levels of various criteria. 

This research will inform ranchers and agencies about expected times for meeting various objectives so they can discuss the best approach for setting objectives and grazing management.