By guest contributor Kevin Alexander Watt, TomKat Ranch
This month we are excited to share the Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area, Profiles in Land and Mangement. Since 1994, the California Department of Parks and Recreation has managed vegetative fuel load to prevent fire and improve the ecological health of this multi-use park. Through an innovative lease with Morris Grassfed, a private cattle company, the park uses adaptive planned grazing to achieve its goals.
The recreational area was established in 1975 and expanded with the purchase of neighboring ranches in the 1980s and 1990s. Most of this site has a history of continuous grazing over many years by large herds of cattle. When the Parks Department proposed using prescribed burns to manage fire danger, the neighbors were opposed. In 1994, a rangeland ecologist suggested that planned grazing might be an effective alternative that could also enhance the health of the land.
Today, the planned grazing program plays an important role in reducing fire risk for neighboring properties and improving the natural ecological cycles of the land. Staff and supervisors at the department “absolutely, without a doubt” believe that managed grazing has been a success. Monitoring shows a significant reduction in dry matter as well as increased salamander populations, 80 bird species, and blue oak tree regeneration.
To read more on this profile, please click here.
The Profiles in Land and Management Series by guest contributor Kevin Watt features the work of innovative ranchers and land managers who are achieving economic and ecological benefits on working lands. Kevin served as the TomKat Ranch Land & Livestock Manager until 2017 and now works on research, outreach and special projects for the ranch.
*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s). Publishing this content does not constitute an endorsement by the Western Landowners Alliance or any employee thereof either of the specific content itself or of other opinions or affiliations that the author(s) may have.*
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