During early September 2002 I returned to Granite Mountain Open Allotment to continue the investigations begun during my visit in 2001
. In this update I’ll expand upon the locations visited the previous year and examine in more depth the wetlands and the effects cattle grazing has on them.
The late Ray Corning
, my guide on the allotment, in 2002 wrote a report
about these wetlands in which he detailed the process by which they become damaged, and eventually ruined, by cattle. I’ll preface my photos with a few excerpts from Corning’s report.
He began with a statement about the importance of wetlands. “Wetland ‘sponges’ underlying riparian wetlands serve as major water storage reservoirs. They accept water when water is available, storing significant amounts of excess inflow when it is provided, and releasing water continuously downstream during both wet and dry periods. Not only do these ‘stored supplies’ provide critically needed water for wildlife, cattle, and other creatures. They also reduce stream flooding, while assuring that streams continue to flow during dry periods.” (Corning 2002, 1–2)
Cattle grazing impacts these wetlands in several ways. One very damaging effect results simply from cattle consuming so much of the vegetation. Again Ray Corning’s report: “Without continuous supplies of dead vegetation to create humus for retaining water, or an adequate supply of water, a wetland will dry up and lose its functionality. The humic sponges with the riparian wetlands not only retain water for slow release, but also greatly reduce the effects of evaporation normal to lakes and ponds.” (Corning 2002, 2)
We’ll begin our tour at Black Rock Spring in the eastern portion of the allotment at UTM coordinates 0274700/4721632.