1E – Grazing Management

Management Measure

Protect range, pasture, and other grazing lands by:

  1. Implementing one or more of the following to protect sensitive areas (such as streambanks, wetlands, estuaries, ponds, lake shores, and riparian zones): (a) exclude livestock, (b) provide stream crossings or hardened access to watering areas, (c) provide alternative drinking water locations away from surface waters, (d) locate salt and additional shade, if needed, away from sensitive areas, or (e) use improved grazing management (e.g., herding) to reduce the physical disturbance and reduce direct loading of animal waste and sediment caused by livestock; and
  2. Achieving either of the following on all range, pasture, and other grazing lands not addressed under (1) above: (a) implement the range and pasture components of a CMS as defined in the USDA NRCS Field Office Technical Guide by applying the progressive planning approach of the USDA NRCS to reduce erosion, or (b) maintain range, pasture, and other grazing lands in accordance with activity plans established by the Bureau of Land Management of the U.S. Department of the Interior or the USDA Forest Service or the California Rangeland Water Quality Management Plan.

Management Practices

The purpose of this management measure is to protect sensitive areas in range, pasture, and other grazing lands. California-approved USDA NRCS standards required for a conservation management systems should be applied to the entire grazing area. These components include erosion control, adequate pasture stand density, and rangeland condition. Recommended practices include the following:

  • Carefully plan the use of grazing areas by developing a grazing management plan with the goal of improving or maintaining water quality. Use prescribed grazing techniques to harvest vegetation in a controlled manner by managing the intensity, frequency, and duration of grazing.

  • Prevent erosion from wind or water by maintaining sufficient vegetative cover to stabilize soils. Where feasible, consider installing wind rows or wind fences to reduce wind velocity and erosion.

  • Keep animals out of surface waters: exclude animals, people, or vehicles to protect and maintain plant and water quality and prevent or minimize direct loading of animal waste and sediment into surface waters. Install alternative drinking sources (e.g., pipelines, ponds, troughs, tanks, and wells) to keep animals away from sensitive waters and install hardened access points so animals have access to drinking water sources. Use fences, hedgerows, moats, and other practices to keep animals away from sensitive areas and place mineral supplements and additional shade away from sensitive areas.

  • Provide designated, stabilized stream crossings for livestock and equipment to minimize impacts on stream habitat and water quality.

  • Use structural range improvements like access roads, grade stabilizers, sediment ponds, stalk trails or walkways, troughs and tanks, pipelines, and streambank protection to maintain vegetation and slopes and prevent waterway degradation.

  • Use non-structural practices such as planting of native vegetation, especially along channels or in critical areas; prescribed burning; range seeding; brush management; stream corridor improvement; and wetland and upland wildlife management to manage vegetation, prevent erosion, and protect wildlife habitat.

  • Allow for a vegetative buffer strip/filter strip to remain around sensitive areas (such as streambanks, ponds, lake shores, and riparian zones) to help facilitate infiltration and ultimately prevent polluted runoff from directly entering surface waters.

  • Periodically monitor the conditions of grazing lands to ensure that management practices are effective, and if not, implement new practices or modify existing practices to maintain vegetation and protect soils and waterways.


  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has begun implementing the standards for rangeland health and guidelines for livestock grazing that apply to public lands administered by BLM in central and northern California and northwestern Nevada.

  • California Board of Forestry’s California Rangeland Water Quality Management Plan is a voluntary plan developed by the California Cattlemen’s Association, in collaboration with University of California Cooperative Extension and USDA NRCS. The plan was officially approved in 1995 and includes rangeland water quality management strategies, policy and coordination mechanisms, as well as sample plans and sources of assistance. The California Board of Forestry is responsible for administering the plan.

  • California Grazing Academy is a unique and exciting program emphasizing practical application of controlled grazing principles to improve the environment and increase ranch profit. This challenging course consists of a minimum of lecture and a maximum of hands-on experience and learning.

  • The California Research and informaton Center (CRRIC) focuses on making rangeland information more accessible. The Content pages provide links to rangeland subject matter including Key publication.

  • Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR), Pest Management Alliance and Planning Program provides funding support, when funds become available, to encourage increased implementation of biologically intensive, reduced-risk pest management. This program is designed to create a collaborative, interdisciplinary team that uses a systems approach—the assumption is that team members have already solved pest problems and other specialized components through applied research. The Alliance is part of a problem-solving continuum, taking the data collected from research and preparing for the next stage—education through demonstration, and ultimately implementation.

  • NRCS, Conservation of Private Grazing Land initiative will ensure that technical, educational, and related assistance is provided to those who own private grazing lands. It is not a cost share program. This technical assistance will offer opportunities for: better grazing land management; protecting soil from erosive wind and water; using more energy-efficient ways to produce food and fiber; conserving water; providing habitat for wildlife; sustaining forage and grazing plants; using plants to sequester greenhouse gases and increase soil organic matter; and using grazing lands as a source of biomass energy and raw materials for industrial products.

  • NRCS, Grassland Reserve Program (GRP) is a voluntary program which helps landowners restore and protect grassland, rangeland, pastureland, shrubland and certain other lands and provides assistance for rehabilitating grasslands. The program will conserve vulnerable grasslands from conversion to cropland or other uses and conserve valuable grasslands by helping maintain viable ranching operations.

Information Resources

  • Burns, R.T., and M.J. Buschermohle (2002), Selection of Alternative Livestock Watering Systems this publication describes livestock watering system alternatives available to producers. These systems can be divided into three basic types: direct access, gravity flow and pressure systems. The best system type for a particular producer will depend on many factors, including site layout, water requirement, availability and cost of utility water and electricity, as well as water source type and location. This publication provides basic descriptions of some livestock watering system alternatives and discusses some of the positive and negative aspects of each

  • California Cattlemen’s Association Grazing for Change, Range and Watershed Management Success Stories in California. For information about ordering a copy of this booklet, call or e-mail at (Telephone: (916) 444-0845; e-mail: staff@calcattlemen.org).

  • National Agriculture Compliance Center, Pasture, Grazing, and Rangeland Operations provides information about environmental requirements specifically relating to livestock production in pastures and rangeland, as well as other grazing operations.

  • National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service, Managed Grazing in Riparian Areas provides information and technical assistance to farmers, ranchers, educators, and others involved in sustainable agriculture. Managed Grazing in Riparian Areas is designed to help farmers and ranchers identify and use locally appropriate grazing practices to protect riparian resources, including keeping livestock from streambanks, properly resting pastures to restore degraded land, and determining the proper duration and season for grazing pastures. Other relevant publications to which this Website links include the following:
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Grazing Lands Technology Institute, National Range and Pasture Handbook this manual covers inventorying, monitoring, and managing grazing lands as well as livestock nutrition, behavior, and husbandry. Special sections deal with the economics of grazing, wildlife management, and hydrology.

  • University of California (UC) Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP) provides research and information to help California producers develop and manage production systems in ways that meet the demands of society, address concerns for the natural environment, and provide economic security for their families and businesses.

  • UC Davis, Rangeland Watershed Laboratory provides information on grazing management and ecosysterm services.

  • USDA NRCS, Grazing Land Conservation Initiative (GLCI) is a nationwide collaborative process of individuals and organizations working to maintain and improve the management, productivity, and health of the nation’s privately owned grazing land. This process has formed coalitions that represent the grassroots concerns that impact private grazing land. The coalitions actively seek sources of funding to increase technical assistance and pursue public awareness activities that maintain or enhance grazing land resources.

  • USEPA, National Management Measures to Control Nonpoint Source Pollution from Agriculture, Chapter 4E: Grazing Management Chapter 4E covers grazing management topics including an overview of grazing issues, environmental impacts of grazing, grazing management practices, factors to be considered when selecting management practices, and costs/savings of practices. The document also refers readers to additional resources on grazing management.


  • Cunningham, J.H. 2003. An Assessment of the Quality of Agricultural Best Management Practices in the James River Basin of Virginia. Master’s Thesis, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA.

  • SWRCB. 1995. California Rangeland Water Quality Management Plan. State Water Resources Control Board, Division of Water Quality, NPS Program, Sacramento, CA.

  • USDA. No date. Electronic Field Office Technical Guide for California. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resource Conservation Service.

  • USEPA. 2002. Chapter 4 Management Measures. In National Management Measures for the Control of Nonpoint Pollution from Agriculture. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC.

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