USDA-ARS Scientist Enlists Cattle to Create Fire Breaks

Posted by Scott Elliott and Kim Kaplan, Agricultural Research Service inResearch and Science

May 05, 2022

Cattle grazing in a dry area to create a firebreak

According to rangeland specialists, wildfires within the western Great Basin area scorched greater than 14,600 sq. miles in simply 10 years—practically the land mass of Maryland and Delaware mixed.

It appears that a couple of herds of cattle may have helped forestall a few of the devastation attributable to wildfires.

A scientist from USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is managing a analysis challenge that makes use of livestock to create firebreaks by means of focused grazing. His program requires the cooperation of space ranchers to strategically goal the grazing patterns of cattle. The purpose is for livestock to eat in depth strips of extremely flammable cheatgrass down to 2- to 3-inch stubble. This reduces the gasoline load that might in any other case flip small rangeland fires into megafires in only a few hours.

“Wildfires have grow to be extra frequent, threatening human lives, property, and important pure and cultural sources,” mentioned Pat Clark, a rangeland scientist based mostly on the ARS Northwest Watershed Research Center, in Boise, ID. “Suppressing wildfires prices greater than $2.4 billion yearly throughout all wildlands.”

“The present experiment entails initiatives in Idaho, Nevada, and Oregon,” Clark mentioned. “Timing of the grazing is vital and is sophisticated by the dynamics of climate, plant development cycles, and livestock herd administration.”

In simply 4 years, focused grazing has intercepted three wildfires round Elko, NV. Preventing these fires conserved wildlife habitat, leisure alternatives, and different ecosystem companies.

Research and Science

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