Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New study predicts declining range land in California

David Gabel in Environmental News Network: Duke University researchers have predicted that climate change in California will result in a declining percentage of rangeland. Such a change will have widespread impact on the state's large cattle industry of California's Central Valley. No matter if climate change will cause wetter or drier weather, available pasture will decline. Forage areas, known as one of nature's free services, may no longer be so free. The grasses will either wither as arid conditions creep north, or be pushed out as inedible shrubs and brush take over.

The study has been published in the journal, Climatic Change, by Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment in conjunction with the Environmental Defense Fund. The change in the rangeland ecosystem is expected to occur gradually over the coming century. Total costs expected to hit California ranchers over the next sixty years may be as high as $209 million a year if the ecosystem dries up.

Less grazing land will mean smaller herds, and less productive herds. Movement of cattle will also be much more difficult because of highways and suburban sprawl....

A black cow in Fremont, California, shot by Mark J Sebastian, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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