- Author: Mel George
W. James (Jim) Clawson,emeritus UC Cooperative Extension range specialist passed away in Dallas, Oregon, on Jan. 7, 2022, from pancreatic cancer at the age of 89. Born in Oakland, Clawson was the son of William, a presbyterian minister, and Ruth Clawson. He was the nephew of Marion Clawson, first Director of the Bureau of Land Management. He graduated from Livermore High School in California. Clawson met Karin Beskow at University of California, Davis and they married in Santa Rosa in 1957.
Clawson attended Lewis and Clark College in Portland and Colorado A&M, then did a stint in the Air Force before settling in at UC Davis where he completed B.S. and M.S. degrees in Animal Science.
After a few years working for Farm Bureau and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, Clawson became a UC Cooperative Extension 4-H advisor in Ventura County in 1962 and then the UC Cooperative Extension livestock and range farm advisor in San Luis Obispo County in 1964. In 1968, he became a UCCE specialist in the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis where he worked on animal nutrition and animal waste management.
In 1972, Clawson became the UCCE range specialist in the Agronomy and Range Science Department at UC Davis, where he initially worked on rangeland weed and brush control, seeding and fertilization. Shortly afterwards, public land grazing became an issue that needed attention; however, in those days, increasing agricultural production was the priority for extension and the university promotion system did not reward addressing public policy issues. But that didn't deter Clawson and so, following a sabbatical at Colorado A&M where he worked with Tom Bartlett and Bill Jameson, Clawson led efforts that focused the range extension program on public policy issues, which was a new and challenging initiative for the extension service. Jim addressed public policy issues with good science and was instrumental in agencies adopting the practice of evaluating residual dry matter –the old herbaceous plant material left standing – to monitor grazing use.
Clawson was the definition of a people person. Mentoring, organizing people, and community involvement were hallmarks of his career. Having benefited from several mentors early in his life, Clawson mentored many young advisors, specialists, and other professionals over the years. In a male dominated profession, it was especially important to him to welcome and mentor the first women livestock and range advisors in UC. And they in turn, have become leaders and mentors themselves.
Throughout Clawson's career, he encouraged and supported cooperation of people and organizations to address local and statewide problems. As a farm advisor, he collaborated with agencies and private landowners on rangeland improvement projects, and he involved UC faculty and Cal Poly faculty in his local education programs. He was instrumental in bringing agencies, universities, and ranchers together to focus on public land grazing, organizing one of the earliest Coordinated Resource Management Projects and making range ecosystem training of agency staff a priority for the university. Collaborating with Colorado State University, UC researchers and U.S. Forest Service researchers, Clawson coordinated data gathering efforts at the San Joaquin Experimental Range as part the International Biological Program Grassland Biome Project. Also collaborating with CSU, Clawson organized ecosystem training for agency staff in the form of the Annual Grassland Short Course so that agency and university staff could know each other and learn together.
When riparian issues needed to be addressed, Clawson reached out to the Oregon State University Department of Rangeland Ecology and Management faculty, resulting in decades of collaboration. Near the end of his career at UC Davis, Clawson was instrumental in helping ranchers address nonpoint source pollution issues, again in collaboration with agencies at all levels of government. His leadership led to the first statewide nonpoint source pollution program for California rangelands.
Throughout his career, Clawson was active in his community and his profession. He was an active member of the UC Davis Alumni Association, a long-time Rotarian and a leader and organizer of local agricultural and conservation organizations. In recent years, he led the campaign for a tax measure that funded extension programs in Polk County in Oregon. He served as president of the California Section of the Society for Range Management, was named Range Manager of the Year in 1990 and received an Outstanding Achievement Award from SRM in 1993.
In 2012, Clawson sat for a UC Davis Emeriti Association video interview with Mel George. To learn more about Clawson's career, watch the video at https://video.ucdavis.edu/media/James++Clawson/0_3x231to0.
Clawson is survived by his wife Karin and their children Bill (Salmon, Idaho), Jeff (Dallas, Oregon) and Laurie Zohns (San Luis Obispo).
Condolences may be sent to Karin Clawson, 360 W Ellendale Ave., Unit #30, Dallas, OR 97338.