Friday, May 11, 2018

Science-Based Herbicides vs Holistic Grazing in Weed Management of National Forests

Forest Service to cut hundreds of ponderosa pine trees near Sisters killed by the herbicide "Perspective."
(Ryan Brennecke/Bulletin photo)

photo by Jim Anderson
Recently back on May 4th in the News, there was a sad report of a tragic event which took place along many of Oregon's Highway right-of-ways where conventional science-based weed abatement practices of spraying dangerous herbicides, like Bayer's toxic weed product known as "Perspective" which was supposed to target broadleafed weeds and other fire flamable vegetation, some unintended consequences took place. Apparently, this has been the practice by Oregon Transportation Department for some time as it is also around the country. While the target may have been the broadleaf weeds and other flammable weeds through a seemingly easy no break a sweat approach management version provided by science-based toxic chemicals and hopefully acquiring immediate results, the chemical apparently made it's systemic way underground, perhaps further facilitated through the mycorrhizal grid network to the Ponderosa pine rootsystems which eventually later led to the Ponderosa Pine's succumbing to the toxic effects a few years later. Interestingly it does seem that there were warning labels on this side effect on non-target trees and shrubs which were totally ignored. Without further explanation, here are the two links. First is from August 2016 and the second from May 2018 a few days back.
The Nugget Newspaper (Sisters, Oregon) "The warning bell is ringing!"
The Bend Bulletin: "Forest Service to cut hundreds of ponderosa pines near Sisters killed by herbicide"
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A more viable & responsible Solution and one that Perfectly Biomimics Nature
Photo: Washington State DOT Flickr Photostream

(Photograph courtesy Texas DOT.)
This photo above is of goats clearing grass and weeds near Olympia area highway interchange. Something seriously needs to change for the better. Herbicides need to be shelved and never used again. Of all the grazing & browsing animals, goats are basically biological mowers/browsers and can perform a similar function as mechanical mowing but without burning fossil fuels and generating carbon emissions. Another advantage is that some weed seeds are sterilized as they pass through a goat’s digestive system, allowing for more effective weed control than mechanical mowing or chemical herbicide spraying. Goats can also easily access steep and uneven terrain along highway shoulders and cutouts. Of course there are the usual concerns over the use of grazing in highway applications which may include higher costs associated with fencing, watering and supervising the animals; liability; and potential distractions to drivers, but I think much of these costs could be a non-factor if the Highway Departments did not try and manage this themselves and awarded grazing rights to responsible herdsmen who could provide a better professional hands on project of oversight. We're not talk just throwing the animals out there and seeing what happens. They do have to be responsibly managed and not left on their own. Clearly areas like this region in Oregon where 1000s of large Ponderosa Pines must now be removed could have benefitted by this holistic approach as opposed to the conventional science-based practices which have been used for decades. Most all roadside landscape plants should be natives to the areas the roads are located which eliminates watering and benefits wildlife, especially the native pollinators. Below are some links to sites which further explain the benefits.
Roadside vegetation management in the Netherlands
https://environment.transportation.org/"Invasive Species/Vegetation Management"
Roadside Best Management Practices that Benefit Pollinators Handbook for Supporting Pollinators through Roadside Maintenance and Landscape Design
US ARMY: Unconventional Sustainability Method using Sheep & Goats in Hawaii Nabs Award
https://www.wsdot.wa.gov/THE USE OF GRAZING ANIMALS IN ROADSIDE VEGETATION MANAGEMENT
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Grazing to Reduce Wildfire Risks also Biomimics Nature
Photo by johndeerefurrow.com

Another interesting article in John Deere's online journal, "The Furrow," provided interesting feedback on experimental practices of Fall grazing of invasive annuals like cheatgrass to reduce wildfire risk and helping to provide nutrients to the soils. Here is that link:
https://www.johndeerefurrow.com/2017/09/01/forage-not-fuel
Also, remember my last post on the environmental effects of the presence of megafauna (large herbivores) and the roles they all played in forest and prairie health and almost total absence of wildfires ??? 😲 Yes, studies showed that fire while being naturally present was not the major destroyer and killer it is now. Well, here it is again:
Megafauna were the "Ecosystem Engineers" not Wildfire

National Park Service / Neal Herbert

Now, one would think that the environmentalists and government agencies would all be for such a holistically sustainable approach to weed management which actually replicates Nature through Biomimicry, right ??? Wrong! The modern day environmental movement has a murderous hatred of ranchers and as many of the leadership in this movement have admitted, they want this industry to go extinct. This is a really sad video.
The Eco-Activist Movement's rejection of utiling grazing and browsing animals for any Vegetation Management

In this video posted by journalists from the Wall Street Journal on March 30th 2018, "The Last Cowboy at Pine Creek Ranch," they discuss one ranching family, who, after a 40-year battle, was wrecked by government agency rules designed to make ranching unprofitable and impractical. Wayne Hage won his case in court numerous times, proving his grazing and water rights were his legally, not publicly owned and controlled as the government insisted. Yet each victory was appealed by the heavy hand of government, moving the case to the next court and the next judge in the system, forcing Wayne to spend more and more on legal fees. The government plan was simple and obvious. Destroy him financially until he was forced to give up. Now the the government and environmentalist's viscous tactics have finally forced this family to give up the fight as they prepare to move off the ranch and let the ecoactivists and government have their spoils in the war over the rangelands. The Federal land managers were aided in this travesty by the environmental group known as Western Watershed Project (WWP); the program’s director, activist Mike "Buffalo Man" Mease, who was interviewed in the video had this to say.

A cow is a non-native species to Amaerica and when we set them free on the wildlands of the west, they don't know what they're doing out there. As they will walk and eat every blade of grass in front of them, as they walk Cattle hoofs are not cleft. They are one single pallet which compacts the soil, unlike native animals which have cloven hoofs which aerate soil.”
Amazingly, most all the Government agencies and environmentalist groups including Mike Mease's Western Watershed Project & Buffalo Field Campaign, etc generally know full well that grasslands developed under intensive grazing from large herds of bison (pre-1800s saw 60+ million Bison according to stats) and other wild animals (millions of Elk, Deer, Antelope, etc), which through co-dependency became necessary for both soil and plant health. Yet in practice however, most of these militant groups have become more and more hostile to the presence of cattle or other domestic grazing/browsing animals presence on the land, which they variously blame for native species loss, range degradation and forest destruction, erosion, pollution, global climate change and even labeling ranching operations as public theft. In justification of this warped thinking, WWP’s spokesman, Mike "Buffalo Man" Mease, claims cattle harm grasslands because they are not “native.” He provides a nonsense explanation about cattle hooves compacting land by calling them "single pallet" as opposed to the native animals like Antelope, Elk, Deer, etc which have cloven hoofs which aerate soil. If any animal could be labeled as single pallet, then would that not better describe such animals as Horses which have a uni-hoove (or single toe). Cows have cloven hooves with dewclaws. Interestingly, both horses and buros were present in larger numbers centuries ago and had positive effects on the land. But take a look at the differences below.

Images - Mother Nature's Tillers


Mike "Buffalo Man" Mease's knowledge here is confusing as you listen to the very words leaving his mouth given the fact that he labels himself with the knickname, "Buffalo Man" which should leaves folks puzzled. Bison (Buffalo) and Cattle have the same identical hooves. Once again, there were once over 60,000,000,000+ Bison in pre-1800s in North America. So by his definition when using the hoove design argument, was Nature in trouble when such vast numbers existed just a century ot two ago ??? And if so, then why does he champion more and more buffalo on the landscape ??? Surely from his outdoor experience and credentials he must know what is right ??? Oh wait, he doesn't have any biology or conservation credentials. Mike Mease has a B.A. in Radio/Television and Psychology from the University of Montana. This is almost the same identical credentials of another infamous eco-activist, Kieran Suckling of militant Earth First fame and co-founder/director of the Center for Biological Diversity out of Tucson, Arizona. Neither of them are biologists. Like Mease, Suckling wants ranching to go extinct:
“Ranching is one of the most nihilistic lifestyles this planet has ever seen. Ranching should end. Good riddance.”
CBD director Kierán Suckling to the Washington Post.
In the interview with the journal High Country News, when he was asked if his lack of any science degrees were a hindrance to his work. He responsed:
"I think the professionalization of the environmental movement has injured it greatly. These kids get degrees in environmental conservation and wildlife management and come looking for jobs in the environmental movement. They've bought into resource management values and multiple use by the time they graduate. I'm more interested in hiring philosophers, linguists and poets. The core talent of a successful environmental activist is not science and law. It's campaigning instinct. That's not only not taught in the universities, it's discouraged."
Well that's wonderful. Learning how nature really works and pursuing degrees in environmental conservation and wildlife management are totally worthless. Civil disobedience, eco-terrorism and psychological warfare thru sue and settle are something to be admired. Kieran Suckling once boasted that he himself engages in a kind of psychological warfare (which for a fact he is credentialed with his degree in Philosophy) by causing stress to already stressed public servants when he bragged, "They feel like their careers are being mocked and destroyed -- and they are. So they become much more willing to play by our rules." 
(Source: High Country News)
I'll never understand the murderous hatred eco-activists openly display towards ranchers on the part of the environmental movement which is in fact killing nature, not preserving it. So much about ecology movement these days has become like a fanatical version of a religious Jihad or kind of animist holy war. While there were clearly practices within traditional ranching that were irresponsible in the past, that is not the case with many ranchers today who see great worthwhile value in helping to preserve wildlife and restoring the land's vegetative ecosystems. It's not just a matter of their livelihood for profit, but also their love and passion for conservation which has also become their hobby. Rather than demonizing all ranchers and lumping them onto the Bundy Bandwagon, they should embrace and ally themselves with the more responsible ranching land stewards. But thus far they have refused to do so.


Image - Cow Hooves

Take a close look at both photos above and below here of both cattle and Bison (Buffalo Hooves). Both cattle and bison hooves are split. The two animals are so closely related (same 'kind' of animal) that they can actually interbreed. They are roughly the same size and weight. Whether on a forest floor or on grasslands, when cattle herds are hands on managed and grazed in a way that mimics bison herds in large numbers, timing and behavior, their physiological effects on the landscape are similar to the bison. Under these conditions cattle can stimulate plant growth like grass and the native weeds (which cattle won't necessarily eat), but which in turn benefit creatures which like the weeds like the pronghorn and deer and the native insects necessary to sustain grassland birds like quail and grouse. In so doing cattle and bison sequester carbon and add organic humus to soil, which increases its fertility and water-retention, thus improving watersheds. But given Mike "Buffalo Man" Mease's lack of understanding that there really are no physical differences of cattle to buffalo, are we to assume ancient historical buffalo herds of 60+ million were a bad thing within the pre-1800s environment ??? 😕 Hardly!

Image - Bison Hooves

When you look at the various hooves and their imprints, you should be able to notice that they closely resemble chisels. They have the ability to cut into the soil, churn it up, break up crusts and clumps, create pockets to hold moisture, trample old vegetation into the ground. Humans have terminology for this action. We call it tilling and cultivation. Of course animal disturbance on the land done the right way only disturbs the top few inches, not feet like science-based mechanized innovation. But grasslands, forests and wildlife have steadily declined since the massive bison herds were wiped out over 150 years ago. So to offset this horrible ecosystem decline, these so-called defenders of Nature, which apparently also includes many in government, academic and the general conservation bureaucracy seek to banish cattle completely off the landscape. And yet Cattle properly managed through a hands on holistic approach are the only true substitute for those missing keystone grazers, the (Bison herds). What's worse, environmentalists have no idea of how, why or what other animals to replace the Bison with out on the landscape. They never offer any real world viable solutions other than promoting the need of reducing mankind through science-based abortion, eugenics and hospital oversight over euthanasia programs. After that, they want to turn everything into their version of wilderness and Nature will just fix the problem all by itself.


Interestingly, regarding these chisel design patterns of hooves: the  Rodale Institute has developed a crimper-roller that’s designed to trample green manures and old stalks into the ground. The tines work like chisels. Vineyards have available to them a smaller, even more chisel-like adjustable “eco-roll.” And Ames Lab at Iowa State University have also produced an imprinter-roller that tries to imitate the hoofprints of passing buffalo, to be used in Colorado prairie restoration. All of this is about bomimicry when it comes to the ecological management of the landscape that went on for thousands of years with 60+ million forest and prairie Bison. Keep in mind, such innovation is necessary in the absence of herbivore animals. Animals are the original ecosystem management component [tool] and that's by design.

In conclusion, this information and news items are for people who do own land and who want to manage that land in a holistic manner which will enhance ecosystems and wildlife. There are numerous services that grazing and browsing animals can perform if properly managed which would negate the using of more science-based toxins. As for all these enviromental groups which lay claim to being the only solution for representing Nature, run the other way folks. There is a Proverb 24:21 which states the danger in associating with these types of groups, it says, 
" . . and do not associate with those who are calling for change [or allegiance with, and are dissenters, rebels, revolutionaries]." 
Our world today is characterized by militant activism against anything and new ways of being offended, angry and outraged seem to be invented or fabricated now on a daily basis. Save your money folks and pursue rescuing and rehabilitating nature under far more peaceful responsible circumstances. My wife and I just recently visited my hometown from Sweden which is San Diego California this past April 2018. Everything there seems to have taken a turn for the worse. California is literally riddled with misdirected people who are looking for any reasons to become activists for whatever cause. People now days seem to be at war with whatever is popular on social media that outrages them and considered trendy to participate in. Very few seem to have a normal life anymore, whatever normal life once was. In the mean time, being credentialed with regards to environment issues are ultimately meaningless when these so-called credentials conflict with common sense and reality on the ground.




Sustainable Dish with Joel Salatin


3 comments:

  1. As always, you make many good points. I always wonder about if any countries are as sickeninly polarized as the US, including those in Scandanavia. It is beyond heavy, which is one thing I like about living in apathetic Las Cruces!

    I try not to think of the religious fervor the left hates Trump while claiming inclusion, or their opposite on the right. But everything is politicized, even innocent photo sharing on Instagram. Twitter is long gone (so am I from there), and Facebook is even worse. (6 years away, I can only imagine now)

    The camps who fervantly push to make all of us vegans really do twist observable science or just lie. Why can't there be balance and constant learning about how to steward the land, so its natural balance can be restored?

    Same goes for climate change, certain ethnic groups, and so on. Maybe the UK and Germany are more similar in all that to the US? It seems holistic management of the wild and mitigation of our development, tied to the real ecology of each place, would be so simple.

    This is a great, thoughtful post, so thanks again.

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    1. Personally I've pulled away frrom almost every single non-profit environmental organization, conservation group, etc. They speak more about taking back power and engage in topics which have zero to do with love of ecology, nature or the earth. Most of the leaders of these groups are posting negative hate articles and photos, as opposed to educating the public on how nature works and how people can individually do their part to fix it. The herd mentality among the environmental leadersship is to keep their followers stirred up and angry, all the while shoving that donation button in front of their follower's collective faces. Almost none of these leaders have ever physically gotten off their backsides and actually done good physical work in restoring something which has been ruined and destroyed by irresponsible human activity. There is so much to fix and yet they ignore things that are close to home right in their own backyard. Instead, filing lawsuit after lawsuit to save some place or thing they have very little personal knowledge about for no other reason than other activists are climbing on board Cat Steven's Peace Train is all they know. This is why I wrote the example below to expose how easily restoring something could be.

      Attention Eco-Activists: Why not challenge yourself to restore the Land that was Lost ?

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    2. Thanks, I'll look at that link and challenge. For now, I've noticed so many positions in non-profits and government are about getting money but not about competent leadership who's actually done something they direct others to do!

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