Want safe backcountry water? Avoid areas with cattle

This is from Wilderness and Environmental Medicine: Vol. 15, No. 4, pp. 245–249.

Also avoid areas with high human use.







  1. Brian Ertz Avatar

    good paper.

    88 to 100 % prevalence of coliforms in cattle grazed wilderness watersheds, compared to 9% in ungrazed. They point out that each cow use day is equal to 100 to 120 human use days, in regard to waste pollution.

    water is becoming increasingly valuable — clean and abundance of (storage through season) water for communities is another casualty of the public land livestock industry.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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