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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Boise, Idaho » Watershed Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #322285

Research Project: Assessment, Conservation and Management of Rangelands in Transition

Location: Watershed Management Research

Title: The value of off-stream water developments for protecting riparian areas in northeastern Oregon

Author
item Johnson, Douglas - Oregon State University
item Williams, John - Oregon State University
item Clark, Pat
item Larson, Larry - Oregon State University
item Louhaichi, Mounir - International Center For Agricultural Research In The Dry Areas (ICARDA)
item Freeburg, Tyanne - University Of Idaho

Submitted to: Society for Range Management Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/20/2015
Publication Date: 1/31/2016
Citation: Johnson, D.E., Williams, J., Clark, P., Larson, L.L., Louhaichi, M., Freeburg, T. 2016. The value of off-stream water developments for protecting riparian areas in northeastern Oregon [abstract]. Society for Range Management.

Interpretive Summary: Continuous monitoring of the timing and intensity of livestock use near water developments has been challenging. We conducted a 5-year study using GPS-tracking collars to evaluate the relative use of water developments by cattle on 3 extensive study areas in northeastern Oregon. Cattle use patterns varied substantially by site, month, and year. Our results suggest off-stream water development is a useful managerial strategy but careful consideration of placement and development type are required to improve the likelihood that cattle will find and use these water sources thus decreasing their dependence on permanent streams and consequent impacts on aquatic and riparian habitats.

Technical Abstract: While off-stream water developments have long been considered a valuable tool for managing rangeland livestock distribution, actually quantifying the efficacy of these developments has been difficult. Continuous monitoring of the timing and intensity of livestock use near water developments has been challenging. Refinements in GPS tracking technologies, however, have provided a means to address this knowledge gap. We conducted a 5-year study (2008-12) at 3 extensive study sites in northeastern Oregon to contrast relative cattle use near water infrastructure vs. stream riparian areas. Ten randomly-selected cows from different herds grazing each site, were fitted with GPS collars that recorded position, date, and time at 5-minute intervals throughout the grazing season. About 3.75 million cow positions were collected. Timing and duration of cattle occupancy in 60-m buffers along perennial streams and 60-m buffers around water developments were determined monthly and annually for each site. Cattle use varied substantially by site, month, and year. In some months, cattle exclusively used water infrastructure, and in others cattle almost exclusively used streams and riparian areas. Our results suggest off-stream water development can be highly effective for cattle distribution management. However, careful consideration of placement and development type are required to improve the likelihood that cattle will find and use these water sources thus decreasing their dependence on permanent streams and consequent impacts on aquatic and riparian habitats.