4619 E. Arcadia Lane
Phoenix, AZ 85018
Profession or Area of Expertise
Retired anesthesiologist, Conservation Chair Maricopa
Audubon, SW wildlife conservation issues
Bob Witzeman arrived in Arizona from Ohio in 1958.
He has continuously birdwatched throughout Arizona since then.
In the process he has witnessed monumental riparian destruction,
soil erosion, gully washing, desertification, and forest crown fires
attributable to livestock abuse of our public lands.
The state’s cottonwood/willow riparian habitat has been 99% destroyed
by cattle or by dams which, for the most part, provided water for cattle
forage or feed. Livestock have consumed the riparian saplings and
seedlings as if they were ice cream here.
There has been little recruitment of the cottonwood/willow
vegetation and other native plant species.
Some riparian areas are now being fenced as a result of efforts to save
threatened species and their habitats.
But the resulting transfer of cattle impacts to upland landscapes
has been associated with downstream flooding, upstream soil erosion and
impediments to both upland and downstream groundwater recharge.
Retirement/buy-out of the allotments on public lands offers some hope in
resolving this devastation of Arizona and the West.