Effects of Cattle Grazing near Streams, Lakes and Wetlands: A results-based assessment of range practices under the Forest Practices Code in maintaining riparian values
The Forest Practices Board has completed an assessment of the health of riparian areas subject to cattle grazing on Crown land across four forest districts in the southern half of British Columbia. Ten indicators of riparian health, or proper functioning condition, were measured at 391 sites in Cranbrook, Kamloops, Horsefly and Penticton districts. Half of the sites were on streams and half on wetlands and lakes.
Cattle lightly use the majority of riparian areas. Approximately 12 percent of riparian areas are heavily used based on our estimates of forage utilization. Overall, 71 percent of the sites are at proper functioning condition, 16 percent are functional at risk and 13 percent are non-functional. Significant differences were found between districts, with the percentage of sites at proper functioning condition ranging from 49 percent to 97 percent. The largest proportion of sites at proper functioning condition occurred in the moister biogeoclimatic zones, while the drier zones had the greatest proportion of nonfunctional sites. Riparian health scores and faecal counts in riparian areas were better in community watersheds than elsewhere. Individual pasture management was found to be a significant factor in maintaining riparian health.