Rangeland Ecology & Management

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Economic evaluation of targeted cattle grazing to reduce fire hazard and keys to making it a viable option
L. Allen Torell
Leticia Varelas
Derek W. Bailey
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The costs of using targeted grazing treatments will vary widely depending on the situation of implementation. Grazing treatments along an urban/wildland urban interface area would be expected to be the most costly but potentially provide large payoffs in reduced fire hazard and fire intensity. Targeted grazing treatments conducted in Arizona and New Mexico were used as the basis for estimating the time, effort and costs required to implement targeted grazing treatments along the urban interface and on existing grazing allotments. Cost estimates of using targeted cattle grazing as a fuel reduction method ranged from about $25/ha to $250/ha depending on the grazing scenario, assumed labor cost, and the desired level of reduction in herbaceous fine fuels. Targeted cattle grazing may be most advantageous when relatively small reductions in fine fuels are desired. If fine fuel reductions of over about 700 kg/ha are desired, holding animals with a temporary electric fence would be more cost effective than using low-stress herding and supplement. When the targeted area includes both grasses and shrubs goats and sheep may be the preferred livestock class, yet, the abundance of cattle relative to sheep provides a much larger pool of animals and knowledgeable individuals for conducting targeted grazing treatments. Targeted cattle grazing can be a feasible alternative to reduce fine fuels in some scenarios because the costs are similar to alternative treatments to control fine fuels such as mowing and prescribed fire.

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L. Allen Torell, Leticia Varelas, Derek W. Bailey --- New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM, USA