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The Center for Native Grasslands Management

Title: Cattle Grazing and Vegetative Changes at Sabine National Wildlife Refuge
Year: 2005
Author(s): Pate, J., Borden-Billiot, D.
Source Title: Proceedings of the 4th Eastern Native Grass Symposium
Source Type: Proceedings
pages: 130-131
Original Publication:  
Abstract: This observational study was conducted throughout the 1993-98 grazing seasons. Cattle have grazed the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge since its inception in 1937. The 124,511-acre refuge was established to provide wintering habitat for migratory waterfowl. Grazing has been traditional on the refuge as a socioeconomic practice and may produce or maintain habitat conditions that are favorable to waterfowl and other wildlife. Grazing areas consist of natural ridges and their adjoining slopes and the surrounding marshes. The highest natural ridge on the refuge is only slightly over a foot above the surrounding marsh. Long growing seasons facilitated by a subtropical climate allow a thatch to quickly develop. This older plant material can inhibit growth of new vegetation by blocking out sunlight. Thatch has the potential of being removed by grazing animals and fire. During the 1991-1993 grazing seasons, concern developed as to whether grazing was adding to deterioration of the marsh. During this three-year period, rainfall was abundant, muskrats were causing local eat-outs, and cattle grazed within areas that became wet, muddy, and deprived of vegetation. Starting in 1994, 10 sites were monitored for changes in vegetation. Sites were selected based on soil and vegetation type and current cattle use. Data from both grazed and ungrazed sites were collected during May 1994 and compared to similar data gathered in May 1998. This study only looked for changes in species composition and production. Comparisons of foliar cover revealed differences in species composition. This poster documents the methodology used and summarizes the observational data.
Publisher: The University of Kentucky Department of Forestry, Lexington, Kentucky
Editor(s): T. G. Barnes