U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
|Standards and Guidelines|
In response to public concern about management of livestock grazing on western public lands, BLM began developing new regulations for livestock grazing administration. This process, which was characterized by the preparation of an environmental impact statement and extensive public involvement, resulted in new livestock grazing regulations which became effective August 21, 1995.
One of the requirements of the regulations was that each BLM State Director, would, in consultation with the Resource Advisory Councils in that state, develop standards for public land health and guidelines for livestock grazing management. BLM Colorado's Standards and Guidelines were approved by the Secretary of the Interior on February 3, 1997.
Standards for Public Land Health
Standards describe conditions needed to sustain public land health, and relate to all uses of the public lands. Standards are applied on a landscape scale and relate to the potential of the landscape.
Standard 1: Upland soils exhibit infiltration and permeability rates that are appropriate to soil type, climate, land form, and geologic processes. Adequate soil infiltration and permeability allows for the accumulation of soil moisture necessary for optimal plant growth and vigor, and minimizes surface runoff.
Standard 2: Riparian systems associated with both running and standing water function properly and have the ability to recover from major disturbance such as fire, severe grazing, or 100-year floods. Riparian vegetation captures sediment, and provides forage, habitat and bio-diversity. Water quality is improved or maintained. Stable soils store and release water slowly.
Standard 3: Healthy, productive plant and animal communities of native and other desirable species are maintained at viable population levels commensurate with the species and habitat's potential. Plants and animals at both the community and population level are productive, resilient, diverse, vigorous, and able to reproduce and sustain natural fluctuations, and ecological processes.
Standard 4: Special status, threatened and endangered species (federal and state), and other plants and animals officially designated by the BLM, and their habitats are maintained or enhanced by sustaining healthy, native plant and animal communities.
Standard 5: The water quality of all water bodies, including ground water where applicable, located on or influenced by BLM lands will achieve or exceed the Water Quality Standards established by the State of Colorado. Water Quality Standards for surface and ground waters include the designated beneficial uses, numeric criteria, narrative criteria, and anti-degradation requirements set forth under State law as found in (5 CCR 1002-8), as required by Section 303(c) of the Clean Water Act.
Guidelines are the management tools, methods, strategies, and techniques (e.g., best management practices) designed to maintain or achieve healthy public lands as defined by the standards. Currently, the only guidelines for BLM Colorado that have been developed in concert with the Resource Advisory Councils are livestock grazing management guidelines.
1. Grazing management practices promote plant health by providing for one or more of the following:
2. Grazing management practices address the kind, numbers, and class of livestock, season, duration, distribution, frequency and intensity of grazing use and livestock health.
3. Grazing management practices maintain sufficient residual vegetation on both upland and riparian sites to protect the soil from wind and water erosion, to assist in maintaining appropriate soil infiltration and permeability, and to buffer temperature extremes. In riparian areas, vegetation dissipates energy, captures sediment, recharges ground water, and contributes to stream stability.
4. Native plant species and natural revegetation are emphasized in the support of sustaining ecological functions and site integrity. Where reseeding is required, on land treatment efforts, emphasis will be placed on using native plant species. Seeding of non-native plant species will be considered based on local goals, native seed availability and cost, persistence of non-native plants and annuals and noxious weeds on the site, and composition of non-natives in the seed mix.
5. Range improvement projects are designed consistent with overall ecological functions and processes with minimum adverse impacts to other resources or uses of riparian/wetland and upland sites.
6. Grazing management will occur in a manner that does not encourage the establishment or spread of noxious weeds. In addition to mechanical, chemical, and biological methods of weed control, livestock may be used where feasible as a tool to inhibit or stop the spread of noxious weeds.
7. Natural occurrences such as fire, drought, flooding, and prescribed land treatments should be combined with livestock management practices to move toward the sustainability of biological diversity across the landscape, including the maintenance, restoration, or enhancement of habitat to promote and assist the recovery and conservation of threatened, endangered, or other special status species, by helping to provide natural vegetation patterns, a mosaic of successional stages, and vegetation corridors, and thus minimizing habitat fragmentation.
8. Colorado Best Management Practices and other scientifically developed practices that enhance land and water quality should be used in the development of activity plans prepared for land use.