Environmental Management

, Volume 55, Issue 4, pp 930–942 | Cite as

Restoration of Riparian Areas Following the Removal of Cattle in the Northwestern Great Basin

  • Jonathan L. Batchelor
  • William J. Ripple
  • Todd M. Wilson
  • Luke E. Painter
Article

Abstract

We assessed the effects of the elimination of livestock in riparian systems at Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge in southeastern Oregon, 23 years after the removal of cattle grazing, using 64 photos taken before grazing was removed compared with later retake photos. Two methods were used for this assessment: (1) a qualitative visual method comparing seven cover types and processes and (2) a new quantitative method of inserting digital line transects into photos. Results indicated that channel widths and eroding banks decreased in 64 and 73 % of sites, respectively. We found a 90 % decrease in the amount of bare soil (P < 0.001) and a 63 % decrease in exposed channel (P < 0.001) as well as a significant increase in the cover of grasses/sedges/forbs (15 % increase, P = 0.037), rushes (389 % increase, P = 0.014), and willow (388 % increase, P < 0.001). We also assessed the accuracy of the new method of inserting digital line transects into photo pairs. An overall accuracy of 91 % (kappa 83 %) suggests that digital line transects can be a useful tool for quantifying vegetation cover from photos. Our results indicate that the removal of cattle can result in dramatic changes in riparian vegetation, even in semi-arid landscapes and without replanting or other active restoration efforts.

Keywords

Riparian Grazing Cattle Repeat photography Passive restoration Hart Mountain 

Supplementary material

267_2014_436_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (31.6 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 32329 kb). Photo pairs (n = 64) showing conditions before and 23 years after removal of cattle at the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan L. Batchelor
    • 1
  • William J. Ripple
    • 1
  • Todd M. Wilson
    • 2
  • Luke E. Painter
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Forest Ecosystems and SocietyOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA
  2. 2.US Forest ServicePacific Northwest Research StationCorvallisUSA
  3. 3.Department of Fisheries and WildlifeOregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

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