On April 13, 2019, 28 4-H members and volunteers from Sonoma, Marin, Napa and Alameda counties convened with Cooperative Extension staff at the Las Posadas 4-H Camp for the 2019 4-H Environmental Science Institute. The purpose was to improve the competence and confidence of youth 4-H camp staff (affectionately called staffers), and their adult coaches, to facilitate high quality outdoor environmental education during their 4-H camp.
The goal was to help staffers be able to use best practices in hands-on environmental education, improve their content knowledge of a nature subject, and then lead environmental education short courses/education/adventure time sessions during their 4-H camp.
Marisa Coyne, Volunteer Engagement Coordinator for Statewide Master Gardeners, facilitated a session on best practices in outdoor environmental experiential education. Maggie Gunn, 4-H Youth Development Advisor in San Mateo and San Francisco, lead a workshop on the ecologies of Las Posadas including a flower exploration hike. Steven Swain, Environmental Horticulture Advisor in Marin, lead a workshop on animal commutes and tracking animal movement and behavior in the forest, chaparral, and riparian zones. Michael Jones, Forestry Advisor in Mendocino, Lake, and Sonoma counties led a workshop on forests and insects.
- Author: Stephanie Larson
- Author: John Gorman
Along with prescribed fire, grazing of domestic livestock may be the earliest vegetation management tool employed by humans. We suggest that the challenges of vegetation management on working landscapes may be addressed with the careful sharpening of this old tool. Prescription grazing is the application of livestock grazing at a specified season, duration and intensity to accomplish specific vegetation management goals. Controlled grazing of this type is being employed throughout California on public and private land and is proving to be a promising tool in reducing the fire fuels and unwanted, excessive vegetation.
Furthermore, livestock grazing has one distinct advantage over other control methods; in the process of controlling an undesirable plant, grazing animals convert it into a saleable product.
Steps in Developing a Grazing Prescription
Selecting the Right Species
The species of livestock best suited for the specific vegetation management goals depends on both the plant species of concern and the production setting. Cattle have large rumens that are well adapted to ferment fibrous material and are classified as grass and roughage eaters. They are therefore generally superior to goats or sheep to manage fibrous herbaceous vegetation such as dormant grasses. Goats have narrow and strong mouths well designed for stripping individual leaves from woody stems and for chewing branches. Goats also have a large liver mass relative to cattle or sheep and may therefore more efficiently process plants that contain secondary compounds such as tannins or terpenes. Sheep are generally considered an excellent species to accomplish control of herbaceous weeds. Sheep possess a narrow muzzle and a relatively large rumen per unit body mass. These characteristics allow them to selectively graze and yet tolerate substantial fiber content, and results in diets generally dominated by forbs. Sheep are also small, sure-footed, and well suited for travel in rough topography which may not be easily accessible for chemical weed control.
Grazing Workshops for Working Landscapes in Sonoma & Marin Counties
Creating resiliency in the rural landscape of Sonoma and Marin Counties is critical in preparing for the next natural disaster, managing biodiversity or achieving ecosystem service goals such as carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat and viewsheds. This growing recognition of the ecological benefits livestock grazing is important to our County's resiliency. However, grazing can be difficult to landowners that have never grazed their properties before. UC Cooperative Extension will hold several workshops on prescriptive grazing techniques to address the sustainability of our working landscapes while reducing the vegetation that leads to catastrophic wild fires. Private land owners manage the majority of the open spaces in Sonoma and Marin Counties and these workshops are aimed at those private citizens and other public land owners that are interested in using grazing as a vegetation management tool. Increasing the number of agriculture land grazed will benefit both public and private open space and the residents that benefit from them. The goal of the workshops is to increase understanding, interest and acceptance of using grazing as a vegetation management tool. Upcoming workshop held at SRJC Shone Farm:
DAY 1 – FRIDAY, May 17 (8:30 am - 7pm)
- Setting Achievable Grazing Goals
- Basic Principles of Managed Grazing
- Animal Nutrition, Body Condition Scoring
- Selecting the right grazer
- Animal Husbandry Basics
- Grazing 101
- Electric Fencing
- Drought & Flood Management
DAY 2 – SATURDAY, May 18 (8: 00 am - 5 pm)
- Graze Planning
- Pasture & Range Ecology
- Livestock Protection Tools
- Health Issues-Parasite Control
- Livestock Economics, Leasing
- Carbon Plan
- Monitoring, meeting grazing goals
Sonoma and Marin County's working landscapes, properly managed with prescription grazing, could prove to be a winning solution for all parties involved. Grazing not only provides a service to land owners and managers that may not be easily achieved in other ways, but it can also provide an income stream to aspiring livestock grazers just starting their grazing businesses. These workshops will provide educational opportunities for all parties to learn the “how to” in grazing, landowners who what to graze themselves, landowners who want to hire grazes and grazers who are looking to start or increase their grazing business enterprise. Let's work together to sharpen the “old” tool of “livestock grazing” into the “new vegetation management tool” for working landscapes./h3>/h3>/h3>/span>
- Author: Stephanie Larson
Good Fire Alliance
Recovery & Resiliency
- Author: UC Delivers
Reprint of UC Delivers article
What Has ANR Done?
Research at UC Berkeley's College of Natural Resources has shown that frost-sensitive plants are damaged only when ice forms in the plant, not by cold temperatures alone. Further, certain common plant bacteria trigger ice formation by a process called ice nucleation. In the absence of these bacteria, plants do not freeze until faced with relatively cold temperatures. By inoculating crops early in their seasonal development, research has shown that ice-nucleation active bacteria can be prevented from growing. In the field, researchers demonstrated that both the altered bacteria and naturally occurring bacteria successfully competed with the ice-nucleation active bacteria on the potato plant. This represented the first field use of genetically engineered microbes in the world. Both reduced the freezing temperature of crops from 2 to 6 degrees F and reduced plant frost damage during typical frosts of about 28 degrees F by an average of 80 percent.
Frost damage reduced by up to 80%
using bacterial spray derived from research
A naturally occurring bacterial strain from a pear tree in Healdsburg was found to improve control of frost damage when sprayed onto crops. This bacterium also controls fire blight, a devastating disease of pear and apple trees. The bacterium has been commercialized as a freeze-dried preparation of live bacteria that can be sprayed onto crops with standard agricultural spray equipment. This product, Blightban A506, can provide considerable control of frost damage and is registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use on a wide variety of crop plants, including pear, apple, strawberry, peach and potato. In the western U.S. and other regions, approximately 50 percent of the crop acreage, such as pear and apple, is treated with this antagonistic bacterium for both frost and disease control. The use of this biological control agent provides an environmentally safe and economical means of frost protection, ensuring crop productivity even when cold temperatures strike.
Blightban A506 is registered for use on a variety of crops. It is produced by Nufarm Americas. They may not have much in the way of technical materials. "If any of your growers would like to give this a try I would be glad to answer any questions" Steven Lindow. Contact information below.
The Role of Bacterial Ice Nucleation in Frost Injury to Plants, Steven E. Lindow, Deane C. Arny, and Christen D. Upper, US National Library of Medicine, Plant Physiology.
Interactions of Antibiotics with Pseudomonas fluorescens Strain A506 in the Control of Fire Blight and Frost Injury to Pear, Steven E. Lindow, Glenn McGourty, Rachel Elkins. The American Phytopathological Society.
UCCE Sonoma is committed to building climate resilient communities and ecosystems. Through our educational outreach and workshops on the better land and natural resource management practices. We are working to make sure that homeowners, landowners, farmers, and ranchers across California are better prepared and able to deal with the growing risk of fire, drought, and flood hazards in Sonoma County.
Protecting California's Economy & Natural Resources
UCCE Sonoma is working to return prescribed burning and grazing to land critical in preventing devastating wildfires. Rapid population growth in Sonoma County has led to an increase in housing development in Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), urban communities adjacent to wildlands. Prescribed fire helps to protect critical infrastructure and resources like the Lake Sonoma watershed, bay area air quality, soil health and plant habitat by addressing fire fuels before peak fire season conditions occur.
Returning the Legacy of Safe Fire
Abatement of Hazardous Vegetation & Combustible Materials in Sonoma County
This spring, in the interest of having fire safe communities, the Fire Prevention Division of Permit Sonoma is starting an inspection program on parcels 5 acres or LESS in the unincorporated county. Permit Sonoma is working with local fire protection districts to conduct the inspections.
Learn more at Sonoma County Code Ordinance Chapter 13A “Abatement of Hazardous Vegetation and Combustible Materials”
Development in the WUI has halted the important indigenous legacy of facilitated burning that shaped Sonoma County's fire adapted ecosystem leading to a build up fire fuels in the wildlands. UCCE Sonoma has hosted and continues to educate the public through a series of workshops covering best practices for home hardening, prescribed burn, grazing, and other vegetation management tools. TheGood Fire Alliance (GFA) is a Sonoma County community based group that has formed to learn about and receive hands-on training on the best practices for fire fuel reduction, vegetation management, smoke management, home hardening, shaded fuel breaks, prescribed burning and grazing, etc.
For more information visit: Prescribed Burns Fact Sheet
Disaster Recovery Resources
In response to devastating October 2017 wildfires, UCCE Sonoma has compiled a compressive list of online resources for home owners and land across California living in high fire hazard prone areas. Disaster Recovery Resources includes information about how to prepare for a disaster, what to do after a fire, clean-up, food safety, erosion, and restoring and rebuilding homes .
For more information visit: Disaster Recovery Resources.
- Ongoing Master Gardener Firewise Landscaping workshops
- April 27 Post-Fire Food Safety Workshop
- April 27-28 Wildland Firefighter Training for Rx Burn Practitioners hosted by Audubon Canyon Ranch
- May 4 Shaded Fuel Break Workshop with Audobon Canyon Ranch and The Wildlands Conservancy
- May 17-18 Grazing School for Wildfire Vegetation Reduction