925.784-8303 ksweet@cattlemen.net

California’s Working Landscapes – Annual Rangelands Fact Sheet, 2016 was produced by UC Rangelands for CRCC and Natural Resource Conservation Service as a resource for better understanding and decision-making.

Grazing for Change I and II: Grazing for Change features ranchers throughout California who are stewarding our state’s wide open spaces. Take a moment to learn how ranchers are promoting endangered species, investing in public lands and conducting research to be better land managers.  These stories are worth sharing. Grazing for Change II: Stories of Ranchers Preserving and Enhancing California’s Grasslands. Click here for full document.

Grazing For Change I: Range and Watershed Management Success Stories in California. Click here for read the complete publication.

  • Foreward by Dan Daggett
  • Teri and Bob Blanchard, San Luis Obispo County
  • Mike and Dan Byrne, Modoc County
  • John and Charline Ford, Mendocino County
  • John Rice, Fort Baker Ranch, Humboldt County
  • Merv, Dorothy, Mike McDonald, Sonoma County
  • Pete’s Valley Ranch, Lassen County
  • Chet Vogt, Glenn County
  • Joe and Julie Morris, Monterey County
  • The Nature Conservancy, Vina Plains Preserve, Tehama County
  • Watershed Group – Effective Partnerships

Range Camp Recap

Theresa Becchetti and Julie Finzel, UCANR; Camp Co-chairs

If you are on Instagram, please go check out the posts we made during camp for more pictures. I think we have at least one from every activity – @ucanr_range_camp.

The Range and Natural Resource Camp (Range Camp) was held in June at UC Elkus Ranch, just south of Half Moon Bay. After some months wondering if we would be able to have Range Camp this year (the bridge was wiped out in the New Year’s storms, scheduled to be replaced when the March storms hit and was finally completed in early June – just in time!) we were happy to be back for our 39th year! A lot has changed over time, but the basic idea of high school students coming to Elkus to learn about range and natural resources and the support of many Resource Conservation Districts, Land Trusts, and other environmentally minded organizations has not changed. We appreciate the financial support the campers receive, but we also appreciate the time staff spend in their local communities and connections made to find high school students for camp. It would be hard for us to replicate the distribution of campers, this year from Humboldt County in the north to San Diego County in the south. We try to spread the word through central locations (4-H, FFA, science teachers, etc.) but we know the role the local groups play making personal connections does more for finding campers than our emails. THANK YOU to any of you reading this who have helped connect high school students to Range Camp in the past 39 years!

Another big thank you to our speakers, moderators and our “all hands-on deck!”. If you did not know before, Range Camp only pays a “salary” for our counsellors, nurse, and chef. The rest of the adults who come to Camp do so on their own time (retired, independent consultants), some may have to take vacation time, and some employers allow Range Camp to be “on duty” time. The passion for rangelands and sharing the passion with youth is what keeps us all coming back year after year. That and Chef Marty’s food! We always welcome new volunteers who want to join for a day or a few days. If you are interested in helping, please email us at our Range Camp email – rangecamp@ucanr.edu THANK YOU to all who continue to help every year! Your dedication to rangelands is appreciated.

Changes over the years with camp have mainly been to move to more hands-on activities. The campers dig soil pits, conduct monitoring, clip for RDM, do point counts for wildlife, use compasses and GPS units to find certain locations, and many more passes activities. We have recently added a watershed tour thanks to the San Mateo RCD that incorporates some fisheries, riparian areas, and forestry talks out in the watershed. We cover a broad swath of topics over the course of a week and it all culminates in our traditional Town Hall – where the campers have been working on presentations to a “town council” on how their organization would like to run Elkus Ranch if they are selected for the lease. The groups use information they have learned over the week, our “experts” (volunteers and staff!), and perhaps knowledge they already have to create a proposal. No Googling! It allows them to be creative, work together and pull information from all the topics over the week. To me, this always shows tion how much the campers have learned more than the test we have them take. It is normally quite entertaining as well. And we had special guests for our Town Council – Dr. Susan Edinger-Marshall, Dr. Marc Horney, and Dr. Sheila Barry along with er-one of our counsellors and our very own Nurse Jennifer as our Honourable Mayor.

The culmination of camp is the revealing of our Top Campers – the campers who scored the best on the plant ID test, written test, and scored by staff for cooperation, etc. The two Top Campers will attend the High School Youth Forum held during the Annual Society for Range Management. In 2024, the meeting will be held in Sparks, NV. Our 3rd Top Camper has a spot to attend and we help find funding to attend the competition. One requirement to attend the High School Youth Forum is that you need to be a high school student. This year our Top Campers were: John Camacho, Galt; Audrey Cline, Arbuckle; Acacia Edeluchel, Corsegold. But – Audrey just graduated from high school, so we were able to move our close #4 camper up to the #3 spot: Guillermo Carto Carrillo, Littlerock. Three will be putting together a paper on a topic that interests them on rangelands and will be presenting them in Sparks in February. We wish them luck and know they will all do well!

Grazing Effects on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Function
in California Vernal Pool Grasslands

Dr. Jaymee Marty, The Nature Conservancy,


The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of grazing on vernal pool plant species
diversity and aquatic invertebrate and vertebrate species diversity. Vernal pools occur throughout
California in grassland areas underlain by a hardpan or claypan layer that restricts percolation of
water through the soil. In short they are poorly drained depressional features. They are a
conservation concern because less than twenty percent of the original habitat remains, and they
contain a very high degree of diversity with more than 100 species of endemic plants and more
than 30 species of endemic crustaceans. Vernal pools are defined by their seasonality. They are
dry in the summer and fall. Water ponds in the pools each year with the onset of winter rain,
creating aquatic habitat that supports the activity of aquatic vertebrates including such species as
the California Tiger Salamander and the vernal pool tadpole shrimp. These unique species
require rather long periods of inundation in order to complete their lifecycles. In spring as the
pools begin to dry down they are ringed with wildflowers, and have become known as islands of
native diversity in a sea of exotic annual grassland. Each pool displays a distinct moisture
gradient from the pool, to the edge, and finally the upland. There is a significant correlation
between the moisture gradient and the percent absolute cover of native and exotic species. The
pool bottoms and edges are dominated by native species while the uplands surrounding the pools
are dominated by non-native annual species. The study measured how disturbances such as
grazing impact species composition along this moisture gradient. The study also investigated
what level of grazing maintains the highest native diversity; how grazing impacts exotic species
in and around the pools; whether exotic plant species impact vernal pool hydrology; and finally
whether or not these effects differ by soil type.

The study was conducted on the 12,362-acre Howard Ranch property in Eastern Sacramento
County. The ranch had been seasonally grazed by cattle for the past several decades. The ranch
contains two distinct soil formations each providing the setting for unique vernal pools. The
Northern portion of the ranch is underlain by the Valley springs formation which is defined by
shallow soils underlain by bedrock and contains smaller and shallower vernal pools compared
with the deeper pools found on the Southern portion of the ranch. These pools are associated
with the Laguna Formation, defined by alluvial terraces overlying a hard pan and claypan at
approximately three meters below the soil surface.

Three replicates of four grazing treatments were implemented on each formation for a total of six
replicate treatment blocks. In each of these six blocks, the grazing treatments included: one left
completely ungrazed, one grazed only during the wet season (when water was still in the pools),
and one that allowed for grazing only during the dry season (when no water remained). The
control consisted of continuous grazing of vernal pools from October through June at an intensity
of one animal unit per six acres.

The vegetation sampling scheme employed transects laid through the longest axis of each pool
studied. Three locations were selected at random along the baseline transect to run perpendicular
transects. Three 35 X 70 cm quadrats were placed along these perpendicular transects in the
pool, on the edge, and in the upland. Within each quadrat researchers recorded species, cover
class values, bare ground, litter, and anything else of interest.

The results demonstrated that the relative cover of native plant species remained highest in
continuously grazed plots, while declining in those where grazing was removed. Grazing
removal did not affect the cover of native vegetation in the pool quadrats but did negatively
impact native cover in both the edge and upland zones. When the study began in 2001 the area
was a forb-dominated system. After three years of grazing removal, the treatment areas quickly
shifted to grass dominance. These treatment effects were most pronounced under the ungrazed
treatment regime and less significant with the wet or dry season grazed treatments. The effects of
the treatments were also more pronounced in the edge and upland zones compared to those in the
pools. The effect of residual dry matter (RDM) values was also investigated, and it was found
that there is a significant decline in species richness with higher RDM levels. The possibility of
upper limits for RDM values being developed was pondered, but would prove challenging due to
the significant variability in RDM values caused by changes in precipitation from year to year. It
was also found that the change in native richness per quadrat over the first three years of the
study was positive in grazed pools and negative in ungrazed pools. There was a decline in
diversity with the removal of grazing after only three years, and this effect was most significant
on the edge.

The study also looked at the effect of grazing on the hydrology and invertebrate/vertebrate
community of the pools. Water quality measurements pertaining to temperature and clarity
during invertebrate sampling were recorded. Water depth was recorded weekly, and the period
of inundation was also determined. Sampling for invertebrates was performed twice a season and
involved quite tedious separation and counting of each species in the lab. The change in
hydrology as a result of the complete removal of grazing was quite significant resulting in an
average maximum ponding period 50 days less in ungrazed pools compared with those left
continuously grazed. This reduction in pool inundation is biologically very significant in that
many species depend on extended periods of inundation to successfully complete their lifecycles.
It was also observed that continuously-grazed pools dried completely fewer times than any of the
grazing removal treatments. Soil compaction was also noted to be lowest in the ungrazed pools,
leading to the possibility that in the case of vernal pools higher compaction may actually be a
good thing. However the main cause of the observed hydrologic change was most likely a result
of increased densities of grass resulting in increased rates of evapotranspiration essentially
sucking the pools dry. As a result of shorter periods of inundation in the ungrazed plots
invertebrate taxa richness was lowest in the ungrazed plots presumably because fewer species are
allowed sufficient time to complete their lifecycles. Invertebrate taxa richness was observed to
remain constant in continuously grazed pools and declined in ungrazed pools throughout the
season in 2003.

This study has several implications for management and restoration of vernal pool grasslands.
First, if a site is grazed and demonstrates high diversity, then it should be left grazed unless there
is a compelling, scientifically-based reason to change the management regime. Furthermore, if
changes are made to the grazing regime the change should be monitored utilizing a control so
that changes can be effectively observed and attributed to the grazing treatment rather than
changes that may be simply due to climatic variability. Grazing too little should be considered as
a threat to these systems as well as overgrazing. Finally, the removal of grazing may negatively
impact vernal pool hydrology and species requiring longer periods of pool inundation.

Full results of this study can be found in the following article:
Marty, J. 2005. Effects of cattle grazing on diversity in ephemeral wetlands. Conservation
Biology 19:1626-1632

Summit Sponsorship & Booth Registration



We need you! Contribute early for longer promotion.

Open to organizations, ranches, agencies, individuals, colleges and businesses who support California rangelands. Sponsors will be promoted fully at the Summit and in the Coalition’s weekly E-update and website. Recognition begins upon your pledge.

Download and complete the 2017-summit-contribution-pledge and send via email to Karen Sweet. 

  1. Payment: a. Submit the form with payment to TCI/CRCC,  405 14th St., Ste. 164, Oakland, CA  94612-2705   OR   b. Pay online with credit card: http://www.trustforconservationinnovation.org/sponsored/  (click Donate)  Contributions to CRCC through Trust for Conservation Innovation are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.  You will receive an itemized receipt. An I-9 for this contribution may be requested.
  2. Submit Summit attendee name(s) to Karen as soon as known925.443-7692   ksweet@cattlemen.net
  3. Sponsorship does not include Thursday’s tour or social. Additional Summit registration opens early December.
  4. Booth: 1 six-foot table or floor space. Booths will be accepted upon payment until full.  Instructions will be provided.
  5. Visit the Summit page for more information.
Sponsorship Level Number of $60 Included Registrations  Add an Optional Exhibit Booth
Sponsor*  $  5,000


No charge + $
 Sponsor*  $  4,500


No charge + $
 Sponsor*  $  4,000


No charge + $
 Sponsor*  $   3,500


 $250 $
 Sponsor*  $   3,000


 $250 $
 Sponsor*  $   2,500


 $250 $
 Sponsor*  $  2,000


 $250 $
 Sponsor  $  1,500


 $250 $
 Sponsor  $  1,000


 $250 $ 
 Sponsor  $    750


 $250 $ 
 Sponsor  $    500


 $250 $
Ranch Sponsor*  $    250


——- $ 
Booth  only  $    250


——- $
Donation ———-


 In-kind-describe    Depends


  • Eligibility to share logo or ranch brand –   Send to Karen by Dec 30 if not on file.

CRCC appreciates your own important contributions to California’s rangelands.


Summit in Review

                             DSC_6890 (2)        DSC_0458 (2)

From the mountain top overlooking the Rim Fire to the Ag Center in Stockton, the talk was about 

Wildfire and Rangeland Management – Mediating Impacts to Conservation and Ranching.

The 2016 Rangeland Summit addressed challenges and opportunities to improve rangeland management aimed at reducing the incidence (scope and severity) of catastrophic wildfire.  Two of the state’s most devastating wildfires occurred in the past year and yet the full impact of these fires to conservation interest and rancher sustainability is yet to be determined.  The prospect of a normal rainfall year raised additional wildfire concern. Co-sponsored by California Rangeland Conservation Coalition (CRCC) and University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE), the January event brought together more than 300 individuals from various walks of life to learn more about the topic that they could apply on their own private or public rangelands and in their communities.

Speakers from UCCE, the California Cattlemen’s Association, Cal Fire, UC Berkeley, local ranchers, and high school Range Campers, Mary Marsh and Jane Wood shared their personal experiences and knowledge about rangeland management and wildfire.   Each talk was individually videotaped and published on the UCCE website to expand the Summit’s reach.  Ranchers, Doug Joses and Shaun Crook shared compelling insights from recent fires.  CCA Vice President, Government Relations Justin Oldfield’s presentation, A Beef Industry Perspective: Economic, Social & Range Management Impacts Caused by Wildfire  especially enlightened the non-ranchers.  Other presentations covered fire behavior and science, and fuels management, and impacts of catastrophic fire on California’s rangelands, and the state of current science for post-fire grazing management.  Many participants toured fire sites where local experiences and lessons were shared and discussed – Butte Fire (Amador/Calaveras County), Rim Fie (Tuolumne County) and Tesla Fire (Alameda).

Share the Summit presentations link with others in your community or organizations as a catalyst for communication and planning to mediate the impacts of wildfire in your community.

Who attended the Summit?  Everyone had wildland fire and rangeland management concerns in common, and they wanted information to use as they plan forward to the 2016 fire season and beyond. Participation was very diverse by profession (29% ranchers, 13% public land managers, 22% ‘other’, 19% organizations, and 18 academic/student).  Sixty-five percent of them had personal experience with rangeland wildfire, and half of those had it within five years.

The Summit provided useful information that facilitated consensus among these diverse stakeholders on several items.

  • Livestock grazing is valuable as a management tool on pre-fire management to reduce wildfire severity.
  • Research is needed about connecting wildfire and rangelands, post-fire grazing, the values of different livestock species, and about cattle behavior. Importantly also, the available research should be utilized.
  • Participants told us how they plan to utilize what they heard.

Based on the pre-and post-presentations survey there was a change in attitude about management tools that favored better planning, collaboration and use of livestock grazing. “I will look at opportunities to reduce understory vegetation.”  “I need to work with neighbors and address agency barriers.”  “On my property: keep roads graded, open & mapped; have water trucks and tanks FULL; build more firebreaks.”   “Work closer with fire departments and other agencies, RCDs at all levels for local planning. Be collegial and persistent.  Consider how local ranchers can help. Know the logistics & position of wells, ponds, roads, driveways and the neighboring operators.” “I will promote communication between different departments in my agency and expand grazing on our agency property as part of forest management program and bring in stakeholders to influence it.”  “Our agency could potentially act as a liaison between ranchers & agencies to help communicate needs and initiate coordinated planning and emergency responses.”

Broader than the wildfire topic, non-ranchers increased their understanding about ranching.  They better understand regulatory barriers in management decision-making, and the relationship of private land to public allotments, and ranching economics and viability.  Non-ranchers shared these comments. “We need economic and market solutions for ranching sustainability.  It’s not profitable.” “I learned the importance of public land allotments for ranching vitality.” “I need to consider long term licenses on my agency’s land” to have animals familiar with the land and consistent grazing.

More broadly, “I learned to consider things from multiple perspectives.”  That, after all is the purpose of the California Rangeland Conservation Coalition.



2011 – The San Francisco Chronicle article features ranchers involved in the Rangeland Coalition

The San Francisco Chronicle article features ranchers involved in the Rangeland Coalition and notes, “These days, environmentalists are happy to see ranchers and cows out there…Around the Bay Area, grazing is being used to create and maintain habitat for threatened species such as the San Joaquin kit fox, the burrowing owl, the red-legged frog, the tiger salamander, the bay checkerspot butterfly and the Ohlone tiger beetle.” Click here to read the story.