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BEST MANAGEMENT PRACTICES FOR PROTECTION OF WATER QUALITY ON GRAZING LANDS

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In an effort to aid Montana livestock producers in their efforts to comply with revisions in the Clean Water Act the Montana Department of Environmental Quality sought help from a broad collation of agricultural and wildlife conservation organizations to recommend a list of grazing best management practices that could protect water quality on Montana grazing lands. To increase the acceptability of the recommended Grazing Best Management Practices (BMP) by livestock producers the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station applied a series of the practices on two streams on the Bandy Research ranch near Missoula, Montana. Reduced stocking rates, riparian pasture, relocation of winter feeding lots and cattle exclusion were implemented during the summer of 1996 to improve water quality on a stream listed as partially impaired and to protect water quality on a second stream flowing through the ranch. Five years of monitoring fecal coliform, nitrates, streambank stability and benthic macro-invertebrates indicated that application of several practices in combination could minimize livestock impacts to water quality without limiting livestock production. However, no grazing BMP, by itself, produced improvements in all four monitored parameters. It also became clear during the demonstration that significant improvement in water quality could only be gained by including all users within the watershed in a common water management plan.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2000-01-01

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