925.443-7692 ksweet@cattlemen.net

The Coalition is built on the foundation of real experience, scientific research, and commitment to our common goals of rangeland conservation and ranching viability. The stories below are about the ranchers, the agency representatives, and others who have made a commitment to the mission of the Coalition into action.  See also Grazing for Change I and II.   More videos are hosted by California Cattlemen’s Association.

July 14

2018 SUMMIT – January 16-17  - Save the Date!

  Land Stewardship Award Program Nominations are Open

Leopold Conservation Award Program: recognizes private landowners for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation, leadership and outreach. July 14 deadline.

Governor’s Office of Environmental and Economic Leadership Award seeks applications for the 2017 Governor’s Environmental and Economic Leadership Awards, the state’s highest environmental honor. The award honors individuals, organizations, and businesses for demonstrated exceptional leadership and made notable, voluntary contributions in conserving California’s precious resources, protecting and enhancing our environment, building public-private partnerships, and strengthening the state’s economy. Applications due Friday, August 11.


Contra Costa Resource Conservation District (CRCC Signatory):  Executive Director. Apply by July 31.

 Workshops / Forums

CNPS: Spots available in 3 late summer/fall workshops, register now to lock in yours! CNPS is currently accepting abstracts for oral and poster presentations at the February 2018 CNPS  Conservation Conference in LA – deadline July 10.

CRCC’s Facebook page ‘likes’ all of the CRCC Signatories and receives their news feeds. Take a look at their activities and news from all over the state. Like CRCC’s page, too!

Cal Poly Swanton Pacific Ranch: Sustainable Rangeland & Livestock Management.  11-day intensive class is intended for ranch/rangeland managers and conservation professionals, as well as students in natural resource, wildlife management, and animal science programs. Focus will be on planning for water quality and wildlife management on rangeland operations, particularly where livestock grazing is involved. Lodging and meals at the ranch are included,  as are views of the Pacific Ocean from the grasslands above. Registration deadline, July 14. mhorney@calpoly.edu or (805) 756-7543.

The Society for Range Management’s 71st Annual Meeting,Technical Training and Trade Show will be held Jan. 28 to Feb. 2, 2018 at the Nugget Hotel in Sparks, Nevada.  The theme for the 2018 conference is Empowerment through Applied Science.  Proposals for symposia, forums and workshops are due by July 14.  Submit to Kent McAdoo (mcadook@unce.unr.edu)

The Rangeland Resolution – the Coalition’s foundation.

Signatories (see list) to the resolution are invited to affirm  the revised Rangeland Resolution, as those below have done.  New Signatories will be welcomed, too. Send a message with contact information to Karen Sweet stating your support of the Rangeland Resolution. That’s all it takes to be added to this list.

Alameda County Resource Conservation District, American Farmland Trust, Audubon California, Cachuma Resource Conservation District, California CattleWomen, California Climate and Agriculture Network, California Council of Land Trusts, California Invasive Plant Council, California Native Grasslands Association, California Oaks Foundation, California Rangeland Trust, California Wildlife Foundation, Capella Grazing Project, Central Coast Rangeland Coalition, Contra Costa Resource Conservation District, Full Circle Wool, Institute for Ecological Health, Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo, Marin Resource Conservation District, Pepperwood Preserve, Placer Land Trust, Point Blue Conservation Science, Santa Barbara County CattleWomen, Sequoia Riverlands Trust, Sierra Business Council, Sonoma Ecology Center, Sustainable Conservation, Sutter Buttes Regional Land Trust, Tehama County Resource Conservation District, US Forest Service, WildPlaces

Thank you for  sharing our  goal –  to keep rangelands working and healthy. Your financial support is much appreciated, also!  Donate here!   

Reference: “Rangeland” means land on which the existing vegetation, whether growing naturally or through management, is suitable for grazing or browsing of domestic livestock for at least a portion of the year. Rangeland includes any natural grasslands, savannas, shrublands (including chaparral), deserts, wetlands, and woodlands (including Eastside ponderosa pine, pinyon, juniper, and oak) which support a vegetative cover of native grasses, grasslike plants, forbs, shrubs, or naturalized species.”(CA Public Resources Code section 4789.2 e.)


2017 Summit Program Notes


This year’s Summit highlights California’s diverse and unique rangelands which provide habitat to hundreds of native plant and animal species found nowhere else in the world. From the Mojave Desert to the sage brush steppe in northeastern California and from the redwood forests across annual grasslands, oak woodlands and back to mountain meadows and forested landscapes, California rangelands, our working landscapes, also provide food, fiber, clean water, viewsheds, and so much more. We will learn about California’s diverse rangelands and some of the challenges and opportunities to manage and restore them. This includes landowners’ efforts to restore watersheds, grazing management to mitigate for impacts from dry atmospheric nitrogen deposition, ranchers efforts to manage grazing to promote endangered species habitat, and USFWS Partners Program projects to improve habitat.

 This Spring the celebration will continue with a series of regional tours to highlight different rangeland types, and the unique opportunities and challenges that each ecosystem and rangeland community faces.  We challenge you to make at least two of the tours – one close by you and one in a rangeland type you are not familiar with.  Compare the two, how they are the same and how they are different.  Next year’s Summit will pick up with a Sustainability theme and we will have some discussions about the different tours.

January 12 Summit Tour –  San Joaquin County Rangelands

 9:15am            Leave Cabral Ag Center – Rain or Shine!

Sparrowk Livestock, hosted by Bev and Jack Sparrowk. Discussion of the diversity of ranching in California – the use of different classes of animals to match resources, different rangeland types in   California, how restoration and grazing livestock are complementary to each other.

California Plant Material Center  for lunch and tour. Focus on Rangeland Compost project, cover crops, native and introduced rangeland species.

Camanche Creek Pasture, East Bay Municipal Utilities District. Discussion of EBMUD efforts to restore rangelands for water quality, habitat, and forage quality for livestock and wildlife.  Also discussion of EBMUD’s partnership with University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) to develop a whole watershed monitoring program to provide information for management decisions.

5:30pm           Arrive at Cabral Ag Center in time for dinner and entertainment – Pre-registration required.   Don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy fellowship, great food prepared by the San Joaquin Farm Bureau, and entertainment by a local rancher! 

Sparrowk Livestock is a family ranch committed to resource conservation along with operating an efficient and profitable livestock business. The Sparrowks operate their family ranching business on 85,000 acres including U.S. Forest Service permit lands, encompassing four ranches in Northern California and Southern Oregon. The Sparrowks have been instrumental in working with range scientists and other industry professionals to evaluate grazing practices and their effect on natural resources. It was through their efforts and cooperation that a groundbreaking study was completed that demonstrated the benefits of managed grazing in the health of vernal pool wetlands.  In addition, the Sparrowks have devoted much of their own funding as well as cost-share funds to the environmental improvement of their ranch lands. Miles of Sparrowk ranch stream banks have been restored with thousands of willows and the construction of check dams to improve wetlands, restore wildlife habitat and increase herd carrying capacity.  Sparrowk Livestock was recognized as a 2012 Region VI Environmental Stewardship Award Program (ESAP) winner.

California Plant Material Center. The Center provides plant solutions for the diverse California landscape and serves the Mediterranean climate portions of California.  It continues to develop plant technologies to promote conservation that addresses resource concerns within its service area. The CAPMC’s conservation plant releases include native releases: purple needlegrass, California brome, and blue wildrye among others. The non-native releases include Berber orchard grass used for range and pasture enhancement, and ‘Lana’ woollypod vetch with utility for cover crops. “We continue to develop plant technology for addressing resource concerns, which in California includes water-use efficiency for water quality and quantity, air quality wildlife habitat and land restoration especially in riparian areas.”

East Bay Municipal Utilities District (EBMUD). More than 28,000 acres of watershed lands surround Pardee and Camanche Reservoirs. A wide array of habitats support the diverse species that migrate through or live on this land, including healthy populations of bald eagles, osprey, waterfowl and thousands of salmon that return to the Mokelumne River to spawn. Careful stewardship allows life here to unfold in much the same way it always has. Objectives of EBMUD’s Rangeland Management include grazing domestic livestock for the primary purpose of fuel reduction, develop pasture-specific goals for residual dry matter to reduce fuels and protect against erosion, employ sustainable grazing practices, maintain or improve the health of the rangeland resources by using appropriate indicators that measure ecological integrity of the rangeland, and support the economic viability of grazing lands within the hydrologic watershed in order to maintain them as undeveloped open space among many other objectives.

January 12 WORKSHOP:  Navigating Roadblocks to Grazing

This 3:00 p.m workshop is an alternative to the TOUR and takes place at the Ag Center  in Stockton. The Range Management Advisory Committee to the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection is interested in compiling resources to help eliminate some of the roadblocks that exist to starting grazing programs on properties that are not grazed but could benefit from livestock grazing. This workshop is an opportunity for agency personnel, land conservancies, land managers, or any interested people to provide input on templates for management plans, grazing agreements, or other resources that might be helpful to  setting up a grazing management program on their properties. Please register for this FREE workshop on the registration form.

January 12 SOCIAL: Pre-Register for Dinner and Entertainment at the Ag Center

San Joaquin County Farm Bureau provides Dinner, 6:00 pm.

Judy Scheppmann is a local rancher and entertaining storyteller.

January 13 AGENDA

8:30        Registration and Morning Breakfast Burritos. Mid Valley CowBelles.

9:00       WELCOME!  Bre Owens, Steering Committee Chair, and Dan Macon, Moderator

There’s Gold in the Hills- the Many Values of California Rangelands –  Sasha Gennet, The Nature Conservancy

 The Roads that Lead to Restoration.  Dina Moore, Lone Star Ranch and YES Board of Directors

Managing for the big picture – East Bay Municipal Utility District’s Holistic Management Strategies in the Mokelumne Watershed.    Chris Swann, East Bay Municipal District

Smog is Nitrogen Fertilizer: Implications for Grazing Management and Biodiversity.  Stuart Weiss, Creekside Center for Earth Observation

Rancher’s Perspective – Smog is Nitrogen Fertilizer: Implications for Grazing Management Justin Fields, Rancher

LUNCH by Mid Valley CowBelles.  Afternoon Desserts also by Mid Valley CowBelles.

Partners for Fish and Wildlife: Give Us a Chance to Work with You.  Damion Ciotti, US Fish and Wildlife Service

Rancher’s Perspective. TBD

Highlights of Upcoming Regional Tours. Elisa Noble, Regional Tour Chair, Placer County RCD

3:30      Adjourn


Sasha Gennet - Title: There’s Gold in the Hills- The Many Values of California Rangelands.

Sasha Gennet, Senior Scientist, joined The Nature Conservancy in 2008. She has over 20 years of experience in natural resources management, research, planning, and policy, primarily in California, and has worked in the public and private sectors. In her current role, Sasha is focused on interdisciplinary research and conservation strategies for rangelands and irrigated agriculture in California.  Sasha received her undergraduate degree from Yale College, and her M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley Dept. of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management, where she studied the effects of livestock grazing and management on vegetation and birds in California grasslands. Sasha also has co-founded two environmental non-profits, serves on the board of the Golden Hour Restoration Institute, and is a California Certified Rangeland Manager. She and her husband live in Berkeley with four children.

Dina Moore -  Title: Roads that Lead to Restoration. Located near Eureka in Humboldt County,

Dina and her community model voluntary conservation practices that often exceed minimum regulatory obligations with extraordinary impact.  Working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Yager Van Duzen Environmental Stewards (YES) on its 80,000 private acres dramatically reduced sedimentation that is equated to 16,000 dump truck loads.  Dina and her family make up the Lone Star Ranch, which won the Cal Pac Society for Range Management Excellence in Range Management award for 2015, the 2016 National Excellence in Range Management award from the Society for Range Management, and the 2016 Leopold Conservation Award from the Sand Foundation, a testament to the family’s desire to manage with sustainability and conservation goals in mind.

Chris Swann-  Title: Managing for the big picture – East Bay Municipal Utility District’s Holistic Management Strategies in the Mokelumne Watershed.

Chris is East Bay Municipal Utility District’s supervisor for the Mokelumne Watershed Unit, overseeing the grazing program and general watershed management. He uses sheep to manage his personal properties for weed and fuel reduction.  This was significant during last year’s Butte Fire, as the houses on all of the properties he managed are still standing! Chris’s perspective crosses ownership boundaries for the sake of the watershed.

Stuart Weiss - Title:  Smog is Nitrogen Fertilizer: Implications for Grazing Management and Biodiversity.

Stuart B. Weiss, Ph. D. (Stanford University 1996) is Chief Scientist of the Creekside Center for Earth Observation, which he founded to bring innovative science to bear on complex problems of environmental change and biodiversity.  Building on diverse connections with the scientific community, wildlife agencies, land conservation organizations, ranchers, and the public, his work has led to significant conservation actions, including the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Plan and the Bay Area Conservation Lands Network.

Justin Fields - Title:  Rancher’s Perspective- Smog is Nitrogen Fertilizer: Implications for Grazing Management.

The rangelands that Justin ranches in Santa Clara County are a hotspot of biodiversity, supporting core populations of the Bay checkerspot butterfly, numerous rare, threatened and endangered plants, stock ponds with red-legged frogs, tiger salamanders, and pond turtles, herds of Tule Elk within sight of Silicon Valley, and spectacular wildflower displays.  Justin has been a keystone of efforts to conserve the Bay checkerspot butterfly and its serpentine grassland habitat.

Damion Ciotti -  Title: Partners for Fish and Wildlife: Give Us a Chance to Work with You

Damion Ciotti is a restoration biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Damion has 8 years of experience leading restoration efforts for the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program in the Cascades and more recently in the Sierra Nevada of California.  He provides project design, permitting, and implementation assistance to private landowners, tribes, and NGO’s for wetland and stream restoration. Damion also manages the Tribal Wildlife Grants Program for California and Nevada. He holds a BS in Soil Science (Penn State University) and an MS in Environmental Science (Oregon State University).

 Spring Tours will highlight regional working rangeland features, topics, stories, and hospitality.


Sustaining Ecosystem Services From Private Lands in California: The Role of the Landowner

The term “ecosystem services” was coined to express the value of natural systems to human wellbeing— a straightforward definition is “the benefits people obtain from ecosystems.”  Achieving sustainability and maintaining flows of ecosystem services in California requires attention to private lands and their unique management constraints and opportunities. Forty percent, 13 million ha, of California’s forests and rangelands are privately owned.

This paper describes the changing landownership patterns and what it means for efforts to increase and sustain ecosystem service production from private lands.  Key points:

• California landownerships are changing—becoming smaller and more amenity-driven, with important implications for ecosystem service production.

• Residence on the property, larger property size, source of income from the land, having a longterm outlook, and using an advisory service are associated with landowner management for ecosystem services for the owner and for society.

• Advisory services like Cooperative Extension and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, as well as private consultants and professional organizations, have an important role in the future of ecosystem service production.

141-ferranto-huntsinger-kelly-ecosystem-services-2014  By Shasta Ferranto, Lynn Huntsinger, and Maggi Kelly


A California Cornucopia – Rangelands, Pastureland, Hay Crops*

A California Cornucopia – Rangelands, Pastureland, Hay Crops*

“Rangeland. If a single item tends to get lost in a discussion of California agriculture, it is rangeland an its products.  For this there is a reason.  The term ‘rangeland’ is to a large part of the public a kind of obscure default category: whatever isn’t cropland, deep forest, or a subalpine highland is by default considered rangeland.  Actually, even forests are grazed by cattle, who sport sturdy bells in the Sierra Nevada or Cascade Range so that they can be tracked in the forest understory.  ….

“Pastureland. Almost any field in California can be grazed.  After a crop is harvested, livestock are routinely moved onto the remnants or stubble left on the field.  The practice isn’t universal because fence and controlling the animals can be an issue.  But there is an important distinction between rangeland, which is unirrigated and essentially natural, and pasture….

“Hay Crops. A common variation on pasturage is hay lands, which are planted to various species of introduced grasses or legumes, allowed to grow to maturity, … but with a swather into windrows, cued dry in the field, and baled for transport and feed (to livestock)….”

Read the geographers’ perspective about and description of  California’s rangelands and related forage production that supports the livestock community and  the land stewardship provided by the livestock.

* Field Guide to California Agriculture, by Paul F. Starrs and Peter Goin, University of California Press, 2010, pp 39-48.