- Author: Jeannette E. Warnert
The cover story in the Feb. 4 edition of the color magazine New Times is a well-written 2,300-word history of Avenales Ranch, east of San Luis Obispo, which has been the site of UC collaborative research for decades.
The story centered on 92-year-old family patriarch Jim Sinton, who inherited the 12,000-acre ranch from his grandfather. The owner of a local general store, Sinton's grandfather provided goods on credit to homesteaders who held the property in the late 1800s. As they went broke, he acquired the land and assembled the vast acreage where today cattle run, majestic oaks dot the landscape and a hunting club helps generate income.
Sinton, a UC Berkeley agricultural economics alum, helped design and execute an experiment in the early ’60s to test the validity of ranchers’ then-accepted belief that acorns were harmful for cattle to eat. According to the story, he concluded that the presence of oak trees on a grazing range is beneficial.
Writer Kathy Johnston spoke to San Luis Obispo County-based UC Cooperative Extension natural resouces specialist Bill Tietje, who said the ranch is “one of the hotspots in the county” for mountain lions and bears. He told the reporter that 100 species of birds, a dozen types of small mammals, plus bobcats, gray foxes, and a variety of reptiles and amphibians can be found on the ranch. The mix of wooded areas, chaparral and grassland the Sintons have maintained supports the wildlife, he said.
The article mentioned that the Sinton family occasionally opens the Avenales Ranch to the public by hosting UC Cooperative Extension workshops on oak regeneration.