Noxious Weeds - Livestock Grazing
Grazing is used to mimic the effects that large herbivores, such as elk, historically had on natural grasslands. Grazing helps to maintain and enhance native grasses, forbs, and shrubs by removing old, decadent plant materials, stimulating new plant growth. The effect of hoof action helps in stimulating the nutrient cycle by breaking up dead and decaying plant matter. This activity can also provides a niche for new plants to colonize. The hoof action will naturally sow seeds and help stimulate the nutrient, mineral, and water cycles by physically impacting the soil community. Native grass and forb species seeds can be hand broadcast by the herders within grazing areas, and will be planted by the hoof action of the animals.
The current Refuge grazing program consists of two strategies: (1) goats and sheep consume noxious weed species during the growing season, and (2) cattle or other livestock graze during the dormant season to return nutrients to Refuge agricultural fields where crops or cover are grown for wildlife.
Since 1993, domestic goats and sheep have been used in a highly controlled seasonal graze on noxious weeds. During the summer months, animals owned by various livestock operators are brought onto the Refuge. On a daily basis the flock is herded from a holding pen to a pre-determined grazing area where the animals concentrate on weed infestations. The objective is to reduce stem densities and flowers on noxious weeds in upland and riparian areas, and open up cattail-choked wetland areas. At the end of the day, the flock returns to one of three holding pens on the Refuge. The holding pens provide physical security for the flock, and guard against predation by dogs, coyotes or other wildlife.
Biological Control Agents