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Riparian Grazing: Can We Just Do The Right Thing?

By   /  March 26, 2018  /  3 Comments

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With growing concerns over riparian management and its effect on water quality, farmers and ranchers
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About the author


Troy Bishopp, aka “The Grass Whisperer” is a seasoned grazier and grasslands advocate who owns, manages and linger-grazes at Bishopp Family Farm in Deansboro, NY with his understanding wife, daughters, grandchildren and parents. Their certified organic custom grazing operation raise dairy heifers, grass-finished beef and backgrounds feeder cattle on 180 acres of owned and leased pastures. Troy also mentors farmers on holistic land management for the Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Upper Susquehanna Coalition as their regional grazing specialist. This award-winning free-lance writer, essayist and photographer maintains a website presence at www.thegrasswhisperer.com


  1. Doug says:

    Look upstream before downstream inre riparian areas. If the headlands, ridgetops, and upper slope aspects don’t have fibrous roots and sponge like soil structure which herbaceous ground cover provides, then the riparian area won’t become stable! Erosion potential in riparian areas here is just as high if not more pronounced when livestock are totally excluded as when they are allowed full encampment. Slow the velocity of runoff first then manage for repair second.

  2. Burke says:

    Thanks, Troy. I also agree with John. Too many of us are poor stewards. But, even the regulators are poor stewards. I could ask, “Why buffer strips?” The entire landscape should be a buffer or filter. Rainfall should infiltrate where it lands. And, of some does run off, it should be clean leaving the soil in place. Buffers might be a stop gap. Livestock should only be in riparian areas for very short bursts of time and at a time that will most likely allow regrowth before livestock are there again or before a flood event. Having said that, I think, and perhaps agree with Troy, that education of the public and farmers and ranchers would be a far better way to spend money than regulation. We need people out there experimenting with hopefully better methods rather than regulators placing regulations that are only partially effective and almost unchangeable even when proven ineffictive.

  3. John Marble says:

    Thanks Troy.

    As usual, I find your writing inspirational. But then, reality sets in. The view from my windshield tells me that no, most ranchers do not recognize the negative impacts that their lack of management brings. Sure, I do see a minority of ranchers doing some really fine work, protecting land-water ecological systems. But for the majority: nope.

    Exacerbating the problem out here, (west of the Rocky Mountains) half of the land is owned by the federal government, which is evidently incapable of protecting riparian areas. Oh, and federal property is immune from local or State regulations, too. As someone who frequently visits our public lands, I am increasingly disappointed by the state of our riparian zones.

    I try to remain hopeful, but honestly, I it appears that proper management on private lands improves primarily as older ranchers retire, replaced by ecologically-minded young people. On our public lands I am even less optimistic, as a culture of abuse is deep-rooted.

    Sorry to be so glum.

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