Climate change to bring western public lands higher temperatures, probable deepening of droughts, and more extreme precipitation events

The  intersection of public lands livestock grazing and climate change is the subject of a review paper published Nov. 15, 2012 by Environmental Management. Mary O’Brien, Grand Canyon Trust’s Utah Forests Program Director, is one of eight authors of the paper, “Adapting to Climate Change on Western Public Lands: Addressing the Ecological Effects of Domestic, Wild, and Feral Ungulates.”

In the face of climate change, western public lands are facing higher temperatures, probable deepening of droughts, and more extreme precipitation events. The eight authors consider the  multiple avenues by which cattle, domestic sheep, elk, deer, burros and horses can and do compound these climate change pressures.

Two major recommendations are offered: Utilize opportunities to gain large, livestock-free areas on our western public lands; and manage continued livestock and wild ungulate use in a manner compatible with maintaining or recovering key ecosystem functions and native species complexes. Through numerous on-ground collaborative efforts, the Trust is working to implement both these recommendations, both on the Trust’s allotments associated with the Kane and Two Mile Ranch, and throughout the three Colorado Plateau national forests in Utah: the Dixie, Fishlake, and Manti-La Sal.

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