Grazing for Fire Prevention

In August of 1984 a lightning strike started a fire between Burns and Bend Oregon on Glass Butte.  The fire burned few acres where our cattle had grazed.  In ungrazed areas the fire spread quickly making the Glass Butte fire the largest in Oregon that year.  This made sense to me.  More fuel creates a hotter fire and will also carry it farther.

A battle cry back in the eighties was “cattle free by ninety-three.” Environmentalists used cattle and ranchers as scape goats for all sorts of real and imagined range problems, with few speaking about the benefits of grazing.  Now, peer reviewed research shows grazing may be used for fire prevention and limit the spread of invasive plant species.

Fire is a growing threat to Federal lands, endangered species, hunting, and sage grouse habitat while consuming an increasing amount of land management funding.  Proper cattle grazing is a low cost and promising fire prevention option.

Grazing is a traditional use and now peer reviewed research presents opportunities for both ranchers and Federal land managers to work together in using grazing for fire prevention, to limit the spread of invasive plant species and to improve our public range lands.  

Please check out the following ARS links to see some of the available peer reviewed research:

Effects of using winter grazing as a fuel treatment on Wyoming big sagebrush plant communities

Effects of long-term livestock grazing on fuel characteristics in rangelands: an example from the sagebrush steppe

ARS scientists publish results of their research projects in many formats on the USDA web pages.  Follow this link to search for publications that you may be able to use


Copyright © 2016-2019 Gerald Miller. All Rights Reserved.

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