Montana Ranch Displays Continued Improvement in Stream Bank Stability
Posted on: Nov 07, 2014
A ranch in southwest Montana changed its grazing management strategy a few years ago, which resulted in improved riparian condition and stability of affected stream banks. Ranch Advisory assisted in designing the grazing strategy for this subirrigated bottom and also captured improvements through photographs. These photos display the improvements in stream bank stability that occur with properly managed grazing programs.
The top photo was taken in summer 2010, and steep, eroding banks are evident. Portions of those banks appear to have recently sloughed off and were washed away. Additionally, the photo shows where recently-receded water has further weakened the bank structure. This ranch had practiced season-long grazing for decades, and cattle used this area to cross this stream to grazing areas on the other side. Changes in management were warranted, and improvements came quickly.
The bottom photo, from summer 2014, was taken in the same spot. 2014 marked the fifth year in which the grazing strategy had been modified. Cattle were moved through a series of pastures using temporary electric fencing, which greatly shortened grazing durations, increased plant recovery periods between grazing events, and increased stock density. The result of this practice has produced stream banks in this area that contained much more plant material. The photo on the right shows the banks have rounded off, are less steep, and contain much more plant growth than the earlier photo. These banks are more capable of withstanding a high future runoff event, and they are one indicator of improved riparian condition.