The City of Boulder worked with local ranchers to return cattle to open space south of Boulder as part of its wildfire mitigation and natural ecosystem resiliency work.

Cattle grazing – along with forest thinning and prescribed burning – has been an effective way to reduce vegetation and invasive weeds south of Boulder. That's because cattle help decrease the heavy buildup of dead grass and thatch created by invasive tall oatgrass weeds, which can harm more resilient native grass species. This mitigation work, when combined with fast actions from first responders, helped slow the recent NCAR Fire and keep it from becoming a more intense fire.

Cattle grazing south of Boulder also helps to support ecosystems by removing tall oatgrass, a highly invasive weed species. Tall oatgrass is a non-native, bunch grass that quickly forms dense spreading stands that prevent native vegetation from receiving essential light, moisture and nutrients.  It’s spread:

  • Creates additional fuel for wildfires, increasing fire risks for Boulder neighborhoods.
  • Threatens rare and uncommon native grassland plant communities, including globally imperiled tallgrass prairie.
  • Can impact a wide range of wildlife species – such as grassland birds, mule deer and wild turkey – that depend on OSMP’s more diverse native plant communities.

Learn more about OSMP fire risk management work.

Please be mindful of cattle when recreating on Shanahan Ridge. Cattle can be aggressive - particularly if there are calves present. Remember:

  • Do not approach cattle.
  • Never get between a cow and her calf.
  • Keep dogs away.
  • Maintain a safe distance.
  • Always close gates behind you!

Cattle are expected to be in five areas on Shanahan Ridge during the spring/summer. Please refer to the map below to plan your recreation in the area:

  • Watertank - April 25 to May 4
  • Hardscrabble – May 5 to May 18
  • Cragmoor – May 19 to June 1
  • Bear Canyon – June 2 to June 14
Cattle will graze on Shanahan Ridge this spring and fall. Refer to map to plan trail visits.