As I’m driving on the weekends or out and about for work, I often see eroded streambanks meandering throughout the countryside and in that stream is a herd of cattle or horses.
Livestock access to streams can cause severe erosion and harm to the ecosystems within our streams.
I know here in Tuscarawas County many producers have already implemented livestock exclusion or stream crossing conservation practices on their own, while others have been approved through Livestock Exclusion Stream Protection Programs.
There are different programs available that can provide cost share for fencing, off-stream watering systems, and stream crossing stabilization.
The projects must do as it says, exclude livestock from the streams. Some projects may be required to be in a certain location or watershed and some may have to be maintained and stay in place for 10 years or even longer.
Buffer areas anywhere from 15 feet to 35 feet will be established depending on the watershed drainage area. The goal is to allow this buffer area to revert back to as natural as possible. The buffer area may not be mowed or grazed at any time.
This will allow time for trees and vegetation to establish and hold the streambanks in place.
The buffer area will allow for nutrients and fertilizers to settle out in the grass before it makes it to the stream.
Here are a few positive benefits to livestock exclusion stream protection:
- Improves water quality.
- Reduces erosion (streambed and streambank).
- Reduces the potential health risk for your livestock from bacteria, viruses and parasites.
- Creates a riparian buffer and allows for plant and tree growth, which helps with streambank and stream channel stabilization.
- Creates wildlife and pollinator habitats.
- Reduces sediment and phosphorus loading.
I have been working on a few of these projects myself since March. I encourage you to take the initiative to try and save our streams, rivers, and lakes from sediment deposition, not only in your county, but in all of Ohio and beyond.
I want to see some livestock exclusion and stream crossing practices being implemented this year, not only to better the looks of our farms but, most importantly, to save our streams, rivers and lakes from these harmful erosion and sediment transportation and depositions.
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