REAL ENVIRONMENTALISTS In Partnership With Animals HEALING BIG BURNS!
As another round of wildfires ravages the West, the question arises, as it does every year...
What’s the best way to get plants growing quickly on land now so susceptible to flash flooding and catastrophic erosion?
In the 1980s a couple of innovative ranchers discovered that the most effective way to heal very damaged land is by enlisting the help of animals.
This is a pile of copper mine tailings near Globe, Arizona — a pile of sterile rock dust 300 feet high and 1,100 acres huge.
In 1989 an Arizona rancher spread seeds and hay on that pile and enlisted the help of cows to till-in and fertilize the mix.
Note: This is not a grazing program. In most cases there’s nothing to graze. This is a land restoration process employing animals as the primary restorers. In 1989 an Arizona rancher spread seeds and hay on that pile and enlisted the help of cows to till-in and fertilize the mix.
This is the result. Before After - Grass all the way to the top.
on a gold mine in Nevada. Here’s another example of working with animals to heal very damaged land...
Two Nevada ranchers tackled that challenge with seeds, hay, and cows.
Gold mine near Austin, Nevada, October 1989 Restoration is in progress. Seeds have been spread. Cows are eating, trampling and fertilizing. Same mine 8 months after restoration. 1 year after restoration
This land was burned by a large wildfire near Grand Junction, Colorado, 4 years before this photo was taken. So, what does this have to do with fire?
It was a big fire.
In this case, a flock of sheep provided the “restoration workers.”
The results one year later. Before After
These photos were taken in May 2011. The Schultz Pass Fire near Flagstaff, Arizona, burned in June 2010.
The fire burned so hot it caused rocks to split. The intense heat sterilized the soil and capped it with a rain-repelling crust.
When a storm dumped 2 inches of rain on those crusted slopes it caused a huge flashflood, one fatality, and much damage to nearby homes and property.
To keep that from happening again, an effort to revegetate the land included dropping bales of straw from helicopters.
Not tilled into the soil, the straw remained on the surface to wash or blow away.
21 21 The same tactic (spreading straw without tilling) was tried after a large wildfire threatened Arizona’s spectacular Oak Creek Canyon with catastrophic flooding.
How well do animals counter erosion by tilling in added organic material? The Globe mine restoration cattle trampled organic matter 12 inches and more into the loose tailings creating a foot of living soil.
How well does that resist erosion?
This is that same Globe mine slope still resisting erosion (and getting a little touchup) 17 years after restoration. Before
The question is, if animal-aided revegetation can turn challenges like this...
into successes like this...
into green growing land like this?