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On the BLM Bear Creek Unit, Tuleyome is working with rancher Chet Vogt to use intensive, short duration, rotational cattle grazing to control invasive species and help native plants re-naturalize on the parcel.
The BLM project page is available at http://www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/ukiah/grazing.html.
Cattle Grazing Research Project Progresses
If you drive up Highway 16 to where it leaves Cache Creek and continue a ways parallel to Bear Creek, just to the west, on approximately 12,000 acres of BLM property known as the Bear Creek Unit (BCU), there is an experiment going on that could have wide implications for cattle grazing practices. Tuleyome Board member Jim Eaton has been a part of the team participating in this project to see whether exotic weeds such as Medusa Head and Star Thistle can be controlled by managing the time, intensity, and frequency of cattle grazing, a widespread activity on public land in California. According to Eaton, “We now have a full year of the program under our belts with this program. It was a strange year, weather wise, much wetter than usual, so we will have to be careful about drawing general conclusions, but we now have some data to look at.”
The project will be modified in the coming year in various ways intended to maximize the potential to generalize conclusions. Changes include reducing the number of livestock from 520 to 400, rotating grazing on a slightly shorter schedule, and specifically targeting Medusahead and Star Thistle by allowing cows to graze longer in certain areas.
Although Tuleyome has concerns about the potential adverse impacts of grazing, if this pilot project can be shown to work, and does not itself result in negative impacts, “managed grazing” could reduce the need for herbicides in efforts to restore native vegetation to this area.