If not managed properly livestock can cause serious damage to stream ecosystems trampling vegetation and destroying streambanks. In addition, animal waste degrades water quality by adding excessive nutrients and bacterial pollution.
Protect sensitive areas
- Minimize trampling damage with designated stream access points and crossings, created with wildlife-sensitive fencing and appropriate streambank and streambed hardening measures. Also, incorporate the use of off-stream watering troughs.
- Plant and maintain a riparian buffer between streams and all livestock keeping activities—including pastures, barnyards, paddocks, and manure storage areas. This vegetated buffer will help to filter and minimize nutrient-rich runoff, while providing wildlife habitat and all the other wonderful benefits of a healthy riparian area!
- Don’t ride horses up and down stream beds, keep them off streambanks, and use designated crossings whenever possible.
- When a designated stream crossing is not available, ride straight across to minimize trampling of streambanks. Avoid crossing at shallow riffles in spring and early summer to avoid trampling fish nests.
Manage manure piles
- Keep manure piles at least 100 feet away from streams and other waterways, and make sure they do not drain towards waterways.
- Collect and compost stockpiled manure on a regular basis.
- Use cross-fencing and pasture rotation to prevent overgrazing, soil compaction, and soil erosion during wet weather.
- Use fencing to prevent animals from grazing in riparian corridors.
Photo © Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy