This project was implemented to assist in managing the migration of cattle from low elevations in the spring to higher elevations in the early summer. Prior to the project, upon cattle turnout on May 1, cattle would quickly travel approximately 25 miles to the headwater meadows of Satus and Toppenish Creeks. Livestock immediately impacted several important high elevation meadows, by overgrazing and by creating hardened cattle trails. These impacts further increased channel incision and bank erosion in these areas..
Yakama Reservation Watershed Project (YRWP) staff worked with Bureau of Indian Affairs Range Program and National Resource Conservation Service staff to initiate a project that would help alleviate this problem. This project has installed or repaired 14 miles of livestock pasturing fence, drilled two solar powered stock wells, and constructed 3.6 miles of stock water pipeline.
Cattle loiter in the headwaters of Satus and Toppenish Creeks and inflict damage to those sensitive areas. Currently, cattle are turned loose in the early spring and quickly move to their summer pasture area, bypassing large areas of good forage. This fence will allow cattle to be pastured on the north side of Toppenish ridge until late June or early July before allowing them to head to higher elevations.
A. Stock Wells
YRWP staff continually repair and maintain 33 solar powered stock pumps and 3 stock water pipelines in the Ahtanum and Toppenish Watersheds. These pumps and pipelines are used to provide stock water when the YN minimum instream flow mandates the cessation of irrigation. It is necessary to have many wells because there are many individual cattle operations, several of which may not always be served by a single well. Operating these wells has been a difficult task, which we are still in the process of perfecting. Project staff anticipate constructing more stock pipelines to better meet multiple users needs while only using one stock pump.
Staff maintained over 158 miles of range unit boundary fence, and 15 miles of riparian fence. Most of the range unit fencing is located along the perimeter of the Project's leased range units. The riparian fence is distributed as follows: 8.5 miles in the Ahtanum Watershed, 2 miles in the Toppenish Watershed, and 5 miles in the Satus Watershed. Maintenance of both riparian and range unit fencing is necessary because in some cases range unit fencing is actually being used to create an exclosure (cattle on the outside) of the entire range unit. This is the case within the Logy Creek Watershed, where the range unit fence prohibits any grazing.
This project will function as it was intended. There are possibilities for further development of this pasturing area if further grazing exclusion is deemed necessary.