Friday, July 09, 2010

Cattle can be a conservation tool

Cattle are roaming Bead Mountain and the Murphy ranch in the Wildcat Hills, just as they have for generations. The cattle are steadily gaining weight, and the local ranchers who own them are pleased. There's one subtle difference in this Wildcat Hills ranching practice from years past. While maximizing the health of the cattle and the land remains a goal, the cattle are now part of a plan to enhance wildlife habitat. This ecologically optimized landscape is an asset for multiple users, such as hunters, hikers and birdwatchers. The Bead Mountain and Murphy tracts are owned by Platte River Basin Environments Inc. and The Nature Conservancy, respectively, and are open to the public. PRBE has developed a management plan that includes three objectives: to improve ecological conditions, optimize biodiversity and "continue the livestock grazing heritage of this region." "That's one thing we feel really strongly about is to keep that heritage," said Bob Smith, PRBE manager. Including cattle grazing in the management plan for the PRBE properties is not a nod to nostalgia. It is critical for the ecology and biodiversity of the area...more

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