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Harmful Effects of Commercial Livestock Grazing on Public Lands

The current system that authorizes commercial livestock grazing on public lands and the associated extraction of public grasses, forage, and water, is inconsistent with science-based conservation of our public lands. Find information about a few of the core issues associated with livestock grazing on public lands below.

Additional Impacts of Livestock Grazing on Public Lands

Here is a list of scientifically documented harmful effects of commercial livestock grazing on public lands (including holistic, regenerative, restorative, passive season-long, and other livestock grazing).

Harmful Effects
  • introduction of invasive species

  • disease transmission

  • increase in fire danger

  • increased soil exposure, drying, compaction, erosion, and sedimentation

  • off-road vehicle trails, with associated noise, speeds, erosion, compaction, sedimentation

  • construction of roads

  • trucks and other motorized vehicles creating unauthorized roads

  • construction of facilities, such as cabins, water lines, and fences

  • trampling, damage to cultural sites

  • damage to riparian areas, wetlands, and watersheds

  • damage to streamflow regimes

  • diminished water quantity as well as quality

  • surface water pollution

  • damage to aquatic habitat and species

  • cumulative contributions to the desertification of public land

  • loss of fish and wildlife, both reduction of population and loss of species

  • displacement of wildlife

  • fragmentation of wildlife habitat

  • disruption of wildlife migration

  • slaughter of predatory species, such as bears and wolves

  • disturbance of bird breeding, roosting and feeding

  • removal of native flora species, such as pinyon juniper

  • degradation of native plant communities

  • reduction of nature's carbon storage capability

  • exacerbation of climate stresses and reduced resiliency to climate change

  • probable increased wildfire risk

  • public subsidies for commercial operations on public lands

  • unfair advantage given to subsidized operations versus operations on only private land 

  • unsustainable production of agricultural commodities on public lands

  • general over-burdening of fragile arid lands

  • exclusion of other uses, including habitat and wildlife conservation

  • reduction of public access to public lands

  • loss of solitude and foot-powered recreation

  • interference with post-fire habitat restoration

  • failure of land stewards to document trespass violations, overstocking, and other harms

  • failure of land stewards to enforce trespass, overstocking, and other regulations

  • politicization of public land stewardship

  • commercial marketing of unhealthy diet rich in meats

  • cumulative impacts over time

  • cumulative impacts of multiple harms

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