Creating firebreaks with targeted cattle grazing in the Owyhee Front
Watch video, 11:45
Six ranchers are working with the Bureau of Land Management during the spring months to reduce fuel loads (mostly cheatgrass) on the front side of the Owyhee Mountains in Idaho with tightly controlled cattle grazing. The goal is for the cattle to “mow” cheatgrass and grasslands to a 2-3 inch stubble height for 30 miles (200 feet wide on either side of a road) from March 1 – June 30. This is the fourth year of the experimental project.
The larger goal is to stop large “mega” fires that are burning up high-quality grasslands and sage-steppe habitat in the Great Basin — habitat that’s crucial to support wildlife, songbirds, and livestock grazing.
So far, the BLM and the ranchers are happy with the results. A research project by the BLM and USDA Agricultural Research Service is evaluating the use of cattle to create fire breaks in the Owyhees, Elko, Nev., and Lakeview, Ore. The research takes a broader look at what techniques work best.