South San Juan Broadband • Entered by Louise van Vonno on September 30, 2022

Grazing hike

September 29, 2022 – September 29, 2022

Participants and Hours

Pre Planning hours 3
Post Admin hours 3
Activity Hours 9
Participants 5
Total Hours 51

Key Issue: Livestock Grazing Management
Activity Type: Stewardship (monitoring, sampling, planting, etc.)
Key Partners: Columbine Ranger Station San Juan National Forest
Landscape/area: Hermosa Creek Wilderness (37203 acres)

Measurable Outcomes

Outcome 1: Event Attendees (5 people)
Outcome 2: Hiked (5 miles)
Outcome 3: Advocacy actions (2 FS built exclosure)[/if 1231]

Short Description of Activity

Dutch Creek Grazing Activity Report – September 29, 2022
Louise van Vonno, Laurie Parkinson, Rose Chilcoat, Mark Franklin and Deb Paulson from the South San Juan Broadband hiked with Sean Kelly and Amanda Pray, Range Staff for the Columbine District of San Juan National Forest.

Reflection/Evaluation

The South San Juan Broadband (SSJB) has been trying to promote improved management of grazing allotments in the Hermosa Creek Special Management Area since early in 2020. Today’s hike to the Upper Pasture of Dutch Creek allotment had the broad objectives of maintaining and building our relationship with the range staff and pressing for improvements we have been requesting for a couple of years. We have been concerned about overgrazing generally and a failure to keep cattle to their rotation.
The focus of this hike was the Beer Key area, where we had asked for the rebuilding of the exclosure that was required as part of the 2009 EIS. This summer the range staff and interns rebuilt the exclosure as a 4 -wire permanent structure. We also have been concerned about cattle damage to the riparian zone of Dutch Creek upstream and downstream of the Beer Keg area.
We were able to have extended discussions with Sean Kelly about the conditions we saw, where there were problems and what the District intended to do to address continuing problems on the allotment.
Based on this meeting we will be pursuing the following iussues:
1. Push for fencing and gates that recreationalists will not be able to leave open. The range staff feels that overuse on Elbert Creek along the road and continual straying of cattle between pastures on Dutch Creek are largely due to gates being left open and fences breached. We discussed getting Durango Trails, San Juan Mountain Association and other groups involved in a project to replace gates and fences where this is a problem.

2. We still do not have a common understanding of what is acceptable level of annual utiklization – especially in the riparian zone. Sean agreed that utilization cages would be helpful and that he would pursue those for next year. We also hope to get some longer term cages and exclosures to show site potential. Scaffold Park exclosure should be repaired, as a first step.

3. We asked Sean to develop and inform our grazing team of the protocol to be used in monitoring the Beer Keg exclosure. We also asked for the monitoring data they collected this summer, once it is processed.

4. Sean has asked for an interdisciplinary team to reread the Proper Functioning Condition on stream segments that were assessed as part of the 2009 EIS. We asked that some of us be invited to go along with the monitoring team. We also asked to be invited to accompany some of the Cover Frequency monitoring teams, so that we can learn the basics of the technique.

5. Other ideas for future activities included finding ways to get more voices from the public on grazing issues to the USFS. We also discussed expanding our oversight of grazing to include areas critical to Bighorn Sheep, such as the allotments in the Middle Mountain area.

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Photo Captions

1) Sean Kelley sharing how they are measuring cover frequency with rectangular measuring tool. Sean said they are doing this because the Great Old Broads asked for this type of monitoring.
2) Showing dry stream where cattle use is apparent. The stream actually goes underground here so has water only at spring run-off but there is still no willow or vegetation over-hand to indicate a healthy riparian.
3) New w exclosure built by FS upon request by Broadband and in Range Management Plan.
4) Group discussion after lunch