Balanced administration of grazing livestock plays an important role in minimizing impacts to sensitive riparian areas and streams, and excluding cattle from these areas requires dedicated ranchers.
A ranch is an area of land, including various structures, given primarily to the practice of ranching, the practice of raising grazing livestock such as cattle and sheep. People who own or operate a ranch are called ranchers, cattlemen, or stockgrowers.
Ranches generally consist of large areas, but may be of nearly any size. In the western United States, many ranches are a combination of privately owned land supplemented by grazing leases on land under the control of the federal Bureau of Land Management or the United States Forest Service. If the ranch includes arable or irrigated land, the ranch may also engage in a limited amount of farming, raising crops for feeding the animals, such as hay and feed grains.
From a Public Land Council paper, more than 22,000 public lands ranchers own nearly 120 million acres and manage more than 250 million acres of public land.
There are many opinions on the effect of ranching on the environment including the watershed and riparian areas. Here's some links that cover the issue. The views and opinions expressed in these documents that we have shared do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by our organization or the contributors to the Agua Fria Watershed Display.
Livestock Grazing on Public Land - Bureau of Land Management web page on ranching
Why does the Forest Service permit livestock grazing on National Forest System lands? - US Forest Service web page on ranching
Ranching and the Environment - article by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association
Why Public Land Grazing is So Important to the American West - article by the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership
Grazing on Public Lands - position paper by Sierra Club
Five ways the meat on your plate is killing the planet - Article by The Conservation
Conservation Ranching- Saving Birds on America's Working Lands - an article by Audubon