Large Woody Debris and Ranch Management in California Oak Woodland

The Issue

Large Woody Debris and Ranch Management in California Oak Woodland
Dusky-footed woodrats use downed logs for safe travel and structural support for their dwellings (log and dwelling pictured here).
Sometimes “active ranch management” is undertaken to increase profits from livestock and hunting, and to reduce fire hazard. Active management may include tree thinning and the removal of shrub understory and large woody debris (LW). However, there has been little research in California oak woodland on the functional relationships between LW and wildlife diversity and abundance, and the balancing of these ecological values with the economics of ranching.

What Has ANR Done?

An ANR Core Issues Grant was recently awarded to address this land-use and policy issue in California central coastal oak woodland. A Project Team (i.e., Cooperative Extension Specialist and Advisor along with UC Berkeley and Cal Poly Stete University faculty) is collecting data on vegetation attributes and small mammal demographics in blue-coast live oak (Quercus spp.) woodland. An Oak Woodland Conservation Act of 2001 outreach program and journal publications are disseminating the results.

The Payoff

Balancing Ecology and Economics

This study will lay groundwork and potentially leverage funds for subsequent work on this subject. It is reasonable to expect that the rancher would be more accepting of LW, if provided with information on its ecological values and Best Management Practices (BMPs).
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Contact

Supporting Unit: Integrated Hardwood Range Management Program

Bill Tietje
wdtietje@nature.berkeley.edu