Healing Hooves

The following is excerpted from an article in Beef Magazine:

Grazing cattle are useful tools in healing Colorado coal-mining scars, a Colorado research project shows.

Hoof action of the cattle, along with deposition of nutrients in their manure and urine, helps stimulate growth of selected native grasses. The long-term goal of the project is to make the area suitable for grazing again by both domestic and wild animals.

“Forty years ago, that area was lush and beautiful, with an aspen grove and alpine meadow,” says Dorothea Farris, treasurer of the Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association. “Mining activities turned it into a huge refuse pile from rock dug out of the mine that couldn’t be sold. Because reclamation of the site was never successful, when it rained, soil erosion there turned the river black. It’s been a terrible legacy of the mining era here, but I think we can fix it with the cattle.”

If the cow stomp succeeds in adequate restoration of native grasses, area ranchers will see reduced soil-erosion issues and have opportunity to use the land for grazing. However, they’re not the only benefactors of the project.

“Elk and deer frequent the area during spring and fall,” says Ben Carlsen, a USFS range technician. The area being reclaimed is the habitat to all of Colorado’s high-elevation wildlife.

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