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ARS Home » Pacific West Area » Burns, Oregon » Range and Meadow Forage Management Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #330247

Research Project: Restoring and Managing Great Basin Ecosystems

Location: Range and Meadow Forage Management Research

Title: Longer term rest from grazing: a response to Jones & Carter

Author
item Davies, Kirk
item Gearhart, Amanda
item Vavra, Martin - Retired Non ARS Employee
item Schultz, Brad - University Of Nevada
item Rimbey, Neil - University Of Idaho

Submitted to: Journal of Rangeland Applications
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/26/2016
Publication Date: 8/30/2016
Citation: Davies, K.W., Gearhart, A.L., Vavra, M., Schultz, B.W., Rimbey, N. 2016. Longer term rest from grazing: a response to Jones & Carter. Journal of Rangeland Applications. 3:9-15.

Interpretive Summary: Jones & Carter (this issue) misrepresent Davies et al. (2014) and develop arguments that are not supported by rigorously peer-reviewed scientific literature. They also do not cite recent literature that is counter to their arguments. They incorrectly state that Davies et al. conclude that 1) livestock grazing is benign in sagebrush steppe and 2) that long-term rest is not beneficial. Davies et al. repeatedly assert that improper grazing negatively impacts sagebrush communities and even state in the abstract “Longer term rest is clearly advantageous to detrimental grazing practices”. This is a contradiction to both claims by Jones & Carter. They also take individual statements out of context and ignore the larger discussion supported by multiple peer-reviewed scientific journal articles.

Technical Abstract: Jones and Carter (this issue) in a response to Davies et al. (2014) misrepresent the original article and other articles, develop arguments not supported by scientific literature, and ignore literature counter to their opinion. Most peculiar, Jones and Carter incorrectly state that Davies et al. concluded 1) that livestock grazing is benign in the sagebrush steppe and 2) that long-term rest is not beneficial. In fact, Davies et al. repeatedly stated that improperly managed grazing negatively impacts sagebrush communities and that long-term rest is clearly advantageous to improper grazing. Jones and Carter ignored peer-reviewed scientific journal articles that demonstrated that properly managed grazing can reduce fire behavior and severity, decrease native bunchgrass fire-induced mortality, reduce post-fire exotic annual grass invasion, and mediate the negative effects of fire on soil biological crusts in intact sagebrush communities. They also make the classic mistake of confusing legacy effects of historical mismanagement with current management effects. These above mentioned issues shed light on a few of the critical problems with Jones and Carter’s perspective. Grazing is one of only a few tools and, possibly the only one that can be applied at the scale needed, to mediate the effects of climate change and increased risk of frequent fires. Counter to Jones and Carter’s suggestion that we need large grazing free areas, we need large areas of different grazing management to investigate how grazing can be most efficiently used to protect the sagebrush ecosystem from catastrophic frequent wildfires.