Can Shade Structures Reduce the Amount of time Cattle Spend in Riparian Areas?
UNR Cooperative Extension , FS-00-22 , 2000
Davison, J., Neufeld, J.
In the spring of 1996 a project was initiated to determine if shade structures could reduce the amount of tune cattle spent in riparian areas. Research by Mcllvain & Shoop (1970) indicated that providing shade during the summer could change cattle use areas. This is important as the amount of time cattle spend in a riparian area is an important factor in determining riparian health (Marlow ET.AL 1991) and Meyers 1989). In fact, a recent evaluation of effective cattle management techniques in riparian zones concluded the following: "What operators do to encourage livestock not to loiter in the riparian zone while they are in a pasture is more important than either season of use or length of time in the pasture per se." (Montana BLM 1997). The most common way to accomplish this is to provide off stream water. However in much of Nevada that is difficult due to lack of available water, land ownership patterns, and excessive costs of providing the water. The purpose of this study was to determine if providing off stream shade could reduce the time cattle spent in the riparian areas. The project was located on Antelope Creek, approximately 40 miles north and east of Battle Mountain Nevada. Antelope Creek is located in the foothills of the Santa Renia mountains and flows through rolling hills covered by big sagebrush and various bunchgrasses. No trees grow nearby with the exception of willow clumps, which occur sporadically next to the creek. No other shade is available in the area. The summertime climate of the area can be characterized as hot and dry. Daytime highs routinely reach 100 degrees F. and precipitation is rare. However, during 1997 and 1998 the temperatures were cooler than normal and precipitation levels were higher.