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Longer term rest from grazing: a response to Jones & Carter

Kirk Davies, Amanda Gearhart, Martin Vavra, Brad Schultz, Neil Rimbey
Journal of rangeland applications 2016 v.3 no. pp. 9-15
Artemisia, annuals, biological soil crusts, ecological invasion, fallow, grassland fires, grazing, grazing effects, grazing management, indigenous species, introduced plants, invasive species, livestock, steppes, tussock grasses
Jones and Carter (this issue) in a response to Davies et al. (2014) misrepresent the original article and other articles, develop arguments not supported by scientific literature, and ignore literature counter to their opinion. Most peculiar, Jones and Carter incorrectly state that Davies et al. concluded 1) that livestock grazing is benign in the sagebrush steppe and 2) that long-term rest is not beneficial. In fact, Davies et al. repeatedly stated that improperly managed grazing negatively impacts sagebrush communities and that long-term rest is clearly advantageous to improper grazing. Jones and Carter ignored peer-reviewed scientific journal articles that demonstrated that properly managed grazing can reduce fire behavior and severity, decrease native bunchgrass fire-induced mortality, reduce post-fire exotic annual grass invasion, and mediate the negative effects of fire on soil biological crusts in intact sagebrush communities. They also make the classic mistake of confusing legacy effects of historical mismanagement with current management effects. These above mentioned issues shed light on a few of the critical problems with Jones and Carter’s perspective. Grazing is one of only a few tools and, possibly the only one that can be applied at the scale needed, to mediate the effects of climate change and increased risk of frequent fires. Counter to Jones and Carter’s suggestion that we need large grazing free areas, we need large areas of different grazing management to investigate how grazing can be most efficiently used to protect the sagebrush ecosystem from catastrophic frequent wildfires.