Water Quality- Stream Protection and Animal Ag

What stream and river problems stem from livestock access?

Livestock access to waterways can have multiple negative impacts including stream bank erosion, increased water turbidity, introduction of contaminants to the water, increased water temperatures, and increased evaporation.

What are the sources of these problems?

Unlimited livestock access to streams damages stream banks and causes nutrient and pathogen movement into streams. Soil erosion from pastures is increased by the exposure and disturbance caused by hoof action.

How can these problems be reduced by near-stream practices?

Establishing stream bank fencing in pastures and introducing grazing systems approaches can go a long way towards protecting stream health.

Riparian buffers are vegetative areas adjacent to waterways that reduce overland runoff, increase nutrient uptake in the soil, and stabilize stream banks. With riparian buffers, there is a “good-best” approach. Where possible, establishing permanent, forested buffers is the best riparian buffer approach. However, when this is not possible, herbaceous or grassed areas are far better than no riparian buffer. The width of a riparian buffer is also linked to its efficiency in protecting a stream.