UC Davis Department of Plant Sciences

Water Quality on US Forest Service Grazing Allotments

Contact Person: Dr. Kenneth W. Tate

Participants: Leslie Roche, Rob Atwill, Randy Dahlgren, Lea Kromschroeder, Thomas Lushinsky, Kristin Oles, USDA Forest Service – Region 5, Stanislaus National Forest, Plumas National Forest, Tahoe National Forest, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Klamath National Forest.

Comment or Questions?



This project focuses on surface water quality on U.S. Forest Service (USFS) grazing allotments in California (USFS Region 5). Concerns have been voiced about elevated fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) concentrations, and thus possible risk to public health, on several grazing allotments in the Sierra Nevada. Additional concerns have been raised about the potential for elevation of nutrient concentrations. The monitoring and educational program described here will evaluate water quality conditions, sources of water pollution, and guide management to improve water quality where needed.

Surface Water Quality Study



We have completed a surface water quality survey on 12 grazing allotments across five national forests in California to : 1) quantify fecal indicator bacteria (fecal coliform and E. coli) and nutrient concentrations; 2) compare results to a) water quality benchmarks, b) maximum nutrient concentrations recommended to avoid eutrophication, and c) estimates of nutrient background concentrations; and 3) examine relationships between water quality, environmental conditions, cattle grazing, and recreation.

Key findings were that nutrient concentrations observed throughout the grazing season were below levels of ecological concern and that all but the most restrictive fecal indicator water quality benchmarks were broadly met.
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Waterborne Pathogen Study


We are conducting waterborne pathogen (C. parvum, Giardia, pathogenic E. coli, and Salmonella) monitoring at the interface of livestock grazing, recreational activities , and drinking water locations to directly evaluate risks posed to public health by livestock grazing on key allotments. This study is in progress; check back for more details.







We are conducting outreach to USFS staff, grazing managers and stakeholders on the topics of: 1) types, sources, transport, and fate of livestock derived pollutants; 2) assessment of management induced risk to water quality; 3) grazing management practices to mitigate risk and improve water quality; 4) development, implementation, and interpretation of monitoring to support adaptive management to improve water quality; and 5) integration of best available science into the management planning process. >>More



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