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Environmental Management

, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 501–509 | Cite as

Livestock grazing and habitat for a threatened species: Land-use decisions under scientific uncertainty in the White Mountains, California, USA

  • G. Mathias Kondolf
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Abstract

The North Fork of Cottonwood Creek, in the White Mountains, Inyo National Forest, California, is a critically important refuge for the Paiute cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki seleniris), a federally listed threatened species. Habitat for these fish appears to be limited by excessive levels of fine sediment in the channel, and livestock grazing of riparian meadows has been implicated in delivery of sediment to the channel. However, the relationships between land use and sediment yield have not been conclusively determined, in large part because there are no historically ungrazed sites to serve as long-term controls. Accordingly, land-use decisions must be made under scientific uncertainty. To reduce erosion and sedimentation in the stream, the Forest Service spent approximately US$260,000 from 1981 to 1991 to repair watershed damage from livestock grazing, prevent livestock from traversing steep banks, and limit livestock access to the channel. Throughout this period, livestock grazing has continued on these lands, yielding less than $12,000 in grazing fees. In revising its Allotment Management Plan for the basin, the Forest Service rejected the “no-grazing” alternative because it was inconsistent with its Land and Resource Management Plan, which specifies there is to be no net reduction of grazing.

Key words

Livestock grazing Public lands Cumulative watershed effects Paiute cutthroat trout Aquatic habitat 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York Inc 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Mathias Kondolf
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Landscape ArchitectureUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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