Targeted grazing for fire prevention and ecosystem restoration

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Targeted grazing reduces fuel overload while improving soil health. Image by Horned Locust Remediation.

In partnership with the Valencia Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD), NM Healthy Soil Working Group is offering a webinar on targeted grazing. Please join us on Thursday June 30, 2022 at 5:30 – 6:30pm MT. Sign up below to receive a zoom link.


Whitfield’s iconic Owl Tree after the Big Hole Fire. Photo by Andrew Hautzinger

Valencia Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) takes care of the 97 acre Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area,  which burned in the April 2022 Big Hole Fire, the biggest bosque fire in history. With 75-80% of the area impacted and upwards of 90% of old cottonwoods lost, the community is looking for a constructive way forward and to mitigate future fire risk in neighboring areas.

Targeted grazing has great benefits for soil health while addressing fuel overload, managing invasive species and limiting wildfire spread and intensity. Landowners and organizations who take care of the lands along the bosque or in neighboring communities can use targeted grazing to create defensible space to keep fires smaller and less destructive, therefore losing less habitat and lessening threats to structures. The larger longterm goal is to establish a landscape scale approach to fire management and ecosystem restoration.

Andrew Hautzinger, Valencia SWCD district director is quoted in the Valencia County News Bulletin: “I really believe with a collaborative framework, we should be able to find a way to get animals back in the bosque, using managed, rotational grazing to reduce intense buildup of fuels. There has to be a creative way of getting animals back in for vegetation clearance that is compatible with the environmental and endangered species needs.”

In the webinar, we will look at the links between fire, grazing and healthy soils. Contract grazier Sarah Bangert with Rx Grazing Services LLC will share the theory behind increases in soil health through targeted grazing, how the tool works, its advantages and how to use it in conjunction with other vegetation manipulation and restoration techniques.

We will have ample time for your questions and discussion.



What is targeted grazing?

Targeted grazing is an effective vegetation management tool that can be implemented to impact invasive weeds, enhance habitat restoration efforts, and/or reduce fuels to lessen wildfire hazard. Targeted grazers, aka contract grazers, are paid by a landowner or land manager to bring their animals, infrastructure (such as fencing and water), and expertise to a property to implement a planned grazing program. Grazing can be more cost-effective on landscapes that are steep, rocky, or remote, or in the urban-wildland interface.


Photo by Andrew Hautzinger

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