- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
The New Year's Eve storm ushered in 2023 and took out the bridge crossing Purisima Creek to Elkus Ranch Environmental Education Center. On June 1, Elkus Ranch reopened to the public with a new bridge.
Igor Lacan, interim director of UC Cooperative Extension in San Mateo and San Francisco counties and UCCE Bay Area environmental horticulture and urban forestry advisor, is grateful to everyone involved in getting Elkus Ranch's bridge replaced.
“Our construction office folks – Jeff Couture, Luzanne Martin and Alexander Cain – were hands-on from the first day to the bridge opening,” Lacan said. “I think they are now familiar with every square inch of our bridge, every pipe connection in our water system, and every idiosyncratic little detail of Elkus!”
For the five months until the bridge was completed, Elkus Ranch staff had to ride a bucket lift daily to get into the ranch to feed Sassy the donkey, the goats, sheep, rabbits, cats and other animals that live at Elkus Ranch, as well as do their other work.
“Our two ranch maintenance staffers, Augustine Aguilar and Bruno Acosta, waded the stream, cleared debris, carried water and hay bales for the animals, and in general did everything that needed to be done in order to both keep our animals alive AND to get everything ready for construction,” Lacan said.
“Our educators Beth Loof, Terri Pacheco, Holly Bono and Doug Meyer, and ranch manager Leslie Jensen ensured that both the animals were cared for and that our school clients were up-to-date on our repair progress.”
While the bridge was out, the local schoolchildren couldn't visit Elkus Ranch. Led by ranch educator Beth Loof with support from 4-H youth development advisor Sally Neas, the educators took their show on the road directly to the schools.
“Our office manager, Kathleen Stewart, kept everyone apprised of the situation, day-to-day, and ensured everyone's safety,” Lacan said.
In addition, Brian Oatman and David Alamillo in Environmental Health and Safety were instrumental in liaising with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other agencies to secure support for repairs.
Tu Tran, associate vice president for business operations, stepped in several times not only to facilitate high-level discussion and ensure funding, but also to help resolve some unexpected issues on the ground, Lacan said.
On June 10, the team welcomed visitors to the annual Sheep to Shawl at Elkus Ranch to see sheep being sheared, watch wool spinning and try dying wool.
Coastside Magazine interviewed Jensen and other Elkus Ranch employees about the reopening: https://www.hmbreview.com/coastside_magazine/page-m-001/page_6437e17a-0a55-59d6-b468-1b27bb09ade5.html.
- Author: Christina Harrington, student assistant
A delegation of 12 UC ANR staff, academics, volunteers and stakeholders visited state legislators in Sacramento on April 19 for UC ANR Advocacy Day to share how UC ANR's work delivers local, place-based education, outreach and programming to serve communities throughout the state.
Anne Megaro, government and community relations director, and Christina Harrington, student assistant, UC Master Gardener and graduate of the UC California Naturalist Program, organized meetings with Assembly Member Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, Senator John Laird, Assembly Member Devon Mathis, and staff members in many legislative offices.
The delegation thanked them for investing in ongoing funding in last year's state budget and shared their stories of serving community members, farmers, ranchers, youth and natural resource managers in their regions.
Vice President Glenda Humiston and Mark Bell, Vice Provost of Strategic Initiatives and Statewide Programs, led two teams, which included Sarah-Mae Nelson, UC Climate Stewards initiative academic coordinator; Kamal Khaira, director of CalFresh Healthy Living, UC; UCCE advisors Igor Lacan, Mae Culumber and Dorina Espinoza; 4-H Youth State Ambassadors Megna Nayar and Sara Tibbets; and Clio Tarazi, UC Master Gardener volunteer.
The teams urged legislators to support several key budget requests as part of Governor Newsom's proposed FY 2022-23 state budget. These budget commitments would support UC's much-needed capital projects at Research and Extension Centers and Elkus Ranch to expand capacity for research and programming, as well as investments for UC climate action and resiliency projects that will advance climate research and workforce development programs for students and community members.
The UC ANR representatives invited the legislators to visit for tours and events to see UC ANR at work in their districts firsthand.
- Author: Pamela Kan-Rice
Construction of a new parking lot for the ANR building in Davis is providing an opportunity for UC ANR to demonstrate science at the site by integrating an ongoing water-quality research project.
The research project on the recently purchased 10 acres at 3031 Second St. was developed by Missy Gable, director of the Master Gardener Program; Loren Oki, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in environmental horticulture at UC Davis; Igor Lacan, UC Cooperative Extension urban forestry advisor for San Mateo County; and Marq Truscott, a retired landscape architect who lectures for the Landscape Architecture Program at UC Davis.
The researchers will evaluate the effect of parking surfaces paved with different materials and coupled to rain garden swales on storm water runoff quality and quantity, according to Jan Corlett, chief of staff to the vice president, who is overseeing the project.
The study area of the parking lot will have the swales and three different surface types – typical asphalt, a cellular confinement system and permeable pavers. The researchers will study how these features improve water quality by removing pollutants and reduce runoff volumes by improving soil infiltration. They will be able to collect samples of runoff water from the different paved surfaces.
In addition, all trees planted in the parking lot will have engineered substrates to demonstrate their long-term effect on tree health and condition.
The new lot will add 92 full-sized, paved parking spaces and 40 parking spaces on gravel to the existing 96 spaces at 2801 Second St.
In 2016, a team that did planning for the 3031 Second St. site envisioned a collaborative, systemwide showcase, supported by the following key goals:
- Enhance the visibility of ANR's mission, research and educational programs that affect the lives of all Californians
- Ensure an inclusive approach to design and programming that welcomes all members of the ANR community, as well as outside researchers and stakeholders
- Support the core mission of ANR by ensuring the campus has a full suite of properly-sized and flexibly programmed facilities and spaces
- Capitalize on the opportunity to tell ANR's story both to the University of California community and outside stakeholders
- Promote community health and wellness in every aspect of site design and facility programming
- Reflect the natural California landscape through appropriate site design and landscaping
“This project reflects many of those goals by demonstrating that everything ANR does, even building a parking lot, can include research and extension opportunities,” Corlett said. “The City of Davis is very supportive of this effort, and we expect that it will draw many visitors each year.”
The project broke ground Sept. 5 and is expected to be completed in November.
- Author: Mike Janes
Downtown Oakland was the site of the biannual UC President's Advisory Commission on Agriculture and Natural Resources (PAC) meeting on Aug. 9, which included a Q&A session with President Napolitano, program presentations from UC Cooperative Extension county directors Rob Bennaton and Igor Lacan, and updates from deans Helene Dillard (UC Davis), Keith Gilless (UC Berkeley) and Kathryn Uhrich (UC Riverside), as well as Executive Associate Dean John Pascoe (filling in for Dean Michael Lairmore, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine).
In her opening remarks, UC ANR Vice President Glenda Humiston introduced Mark Bell, the division's new vice provost for statewide programs and strategic initiatives. Bell spoke about the strength of the UC system, the diversity of programs offered by UC ANR statewide, and his plans to leverage the strong volunteer and staff base of programs like UC Master Gardeners and 4-H.
Humiston also offered updates on the division's strategic plan and the significant progress made in implementing its key goals. Associate Vice President Tu Tran then gave a presentation on the division's financial situation, which he titled “A Fiscal Plan for Success.” Tran addressed UC ANR's place in the state budget and its revenue projections through FY 2021-22, which includes significant growth in major gifts and fundraising.
Bennaton and Lacan both gave spirited and enthusiastic presentations that were received well. Bennaton, who serves as county director for Alameda and Contra Costa counties as well as UCCE urban agriculture advisor for the Bay Area, discussed the benefits of urban agriculture and the assortment of activities going on in community development, habitat restoration and youth programming.
Lacan, also a UCCE environmental horticulture advisor for the Bay Area and co-director in San Mateo and San Francisco counties, talked about the diverse and richly rewarding work he spearheads in urban forestry. His work currently focuses on sustainable management of urban trees and urban water.
During a Q&A period, the president engaged PAC members on various issues such as potential public-private partnerships that could involve UC ANR, targeted approaches to advocacy and deferred maintenance needs for UC writ large but also for UC ANR and its research and extension centers system, specifically.
The deans gave updates on research and activities occurring at their respective colleges and school.
The next PAC meeting is scheduled for December, also in Oakland.