"I lost several calves over the years. Since we fenced, I haven't lost a one." - Ralph Nevela, Washington County Farmer
Dairy and beef cattle have traditionally wandered at will along Buffalo Creek in Washington County, Pennsylvania. Through our Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, farmers are now engaged in stream bank fencing. They are keeping the cattle out of the streams, allowing the trees and brush to regenerate, and protecting the banks from erosion. The new vegetation also provides shade for the stream that lowers its temperature, making it more hospitable for fish and other fauna and flora. Stream bank shrubs also are hosts to ground-nesting birds whose habitats had previously vanished.
What benefits do the farmers derive from this partnership? Moving the cattle out of the streams and fencing off the stream have allowed farmers to practice rotation grazing. These actions have also reduced the bacterial count in the stream from 2,500 bacterial colonies per milliliter to 25 bacterial colonies per milliliter. That means healthier cows - less waterborne hoof disease and fewer spontaneous abortions during calving season resulting from waterborne diseases.
Farmers are also planting native warm season grasses, but not where timothy and alfalfa are normally planted. Our Fish and Wildlife agents are working with farmers to find less productive areas to plant these grasses. These efforts expand forage for cows and provide better habitat for wildlife.
At Buffalo Creek we see a vision of cooperation and partnering where people are applying caring hands to the landscape. They are achieving healthy lands and waters, thriving communities, and dynamic economies.