The Deseret Land and Livestock cattle operation in northern Utah could provide a framework for future cattle grazing on public lands following the review of a grazing allotment in Rich and Cache counties modeled after DLL management practices.
The Three Creeks Allotment Consolidation cattle grazing study began in 2011 and adopted rotational and time management practices in use by DLL on their 200,000 acres of private in Utah’s Rich County.
The TCAC began with 26 independent ranchers and private landowners across 10 Rich and Cache County grazing allotments who formed a group grazing agreement.
The 10 allotments were consolidated by the ranchers and project overseers with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food in an effort to facilitate “rest,” or limited to no use of certain areas of the range land at various stages of the year, in an effort to allow grasses time to mature.
Project managers then developed 30 pastures on the allotments.
The rancher’s combined cattle were separated into two herds of approximately 1,600 animals each and rotated among the available pastures based on time and specific vegetation conditions.
In 2018 the study was reviewed by Taylor Payne, a coordinator with the UDAF grazing improvement program, and it was determined that the land was meeting Utah Standards for Rangeland Health with minor exceptions.
This result has prompted more consideration to be given to the management practices utilized on grazing lands across the state.
Deseret Land and Livestock
Management practices implemented by the TCAC were the result of a 30-year holistic management study conducted on DLL’s Utah land.
DLL is a land, livestock and wildlife management operation owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints with segments spread throughout the United States.
The Utah ranch based in Rich County was founded in 1983 with an emphasis on managing the land responsibly and profitably.
Management and areas of interest focused on by the DLL include animal impact, grazing, technology (mechanical clearing) and fire.
These tools have aided DLL in managing land and resources harmoniously with nature by understanding the weather and managing accordingly.
The management practices focus on water cycle, mineral cycle, succession and energy flow, understanding and managing the effects of animal impact and the role of living organisms and increasing the ecological and economic value of resources.
Since implementing time and rotational management practices on the land, DLL has increased its herds and Animal Unit Months of forage for wildlife by 100%.
The Utah ranch now successfully runs 4,500 mother cows and 4,000 yearlings, and provides 56,880 AUM of forage for wildlife.
Three Creeks Allotment Consolidation
After implementing rotational and time management similar to that of DLL, range managers have determined a positive impact on the grazing land.
There are currently 36 independent permittees acting as a part of a single ranch referred to a Three Creeks Grazing LLC.
The Bureau of Land Management oversees five allotments including Big Creek, New Canyon, Sage Creek, Stuart and Twin Peaks.
The other five allotments under the U.S. Forest Service jurisdictions are Bug Lake, Crawford-Frazier, North Randolph, Red Wells-Rock Creek and South Randolph.
The cattle are grazed in 30 independent pastures on 67,233 acres of land managed by the BLM, 36,297 acres of land managed by the Forest Service, 9,090 acres of state land and 22,730 acres of land owned by private parties.
Studies are ongoing with the official implementation of the TCAC occurring in 2018.
Southern Utah Grazing Impacts
Southern Utah and Iron County have a deep historical connection to livestock and grazing within the area.
USFS and BLM lands offer over 15,000 AUMs for cattle on the county’s nearly 1.5 million acres of federally owned lands.
Iron County’s resource management plan published in 2017 dedicated a section to cattle grazing, recognizing its economic impacts on the county and the communities within.
Current goals for the county in regards to cattle grazing including restoring AUMs when possible and livestock grazing management flexibility.
These goals are already consistent with goals and objectives found in the TCAC plan as far as management and future expansion of cattle numbers with range health.
If future studies from the TCAC and DLL prove positive for land health and cattle management, further aspects of their management plans may be implemented in Iron County’s grazing management and goals.
Story by: Mikyla Bagley
Photos by: Mikyla Bagley