Landscape Scale Conservation: A working lands model at Tejon
By C. Ellery Mayence, Senior Ecologist, Tejon Ranch Conservancy
Tejon Ranch is large, biologically diverse, and a very active working landscape. Though there are a number of commercial activities allowed on the ranch, cattle ranching is by far the most dominant, with livestock dispersed across nearly all the ranch’s 270,000 acres at various times of the year. In the context of a working landscape, specific conservation or restoration goals are generally implemented knowing they should have minimal impact on revenue for the property owner and/or its lessees (Tejon has two cattle lessees). Exceptions do exist, however, for specific research projects, extremely high priority conservation areas, and activities that are mutually beneficial to all parties. One way of achieving the latter is to identify activities that complement one another, such that conservation and operational (or financial) goals can both be achieved.
This year we took a new direction (though certainly not a new concept to natural lands management) with the Conservancy, Tejon Ranch Company, and their cattle lessees, implementing grazing of select pastures at a time of year when the impact to sensitive habitat is minimized, yet the available forage and potential economic gain to the rancher is not forgone. This requires all parties to be adaptable and willing to modify their operations to changing conditions, whether they be climatic shifts such as drought, market changes, or simply a change in, for example, habitat condition brought on by the initial change in management. By investing in water infrastructure (i.e., wells, pipelines, tanks, and troughs) and realigning fences by breaking large pastures into smaller units, the Conservancy is quantitatively assessing changes in riparian habitat condition associated with shifting from dry to wet season grazing. This is done under an adaptive management framework.
In the dry summer season, livestock is either not present in a given pasture or encouraged by the newly installed water infrastructure to graze away from riparian habitat; in the wet winter season, livestock is less likely to gravitate to riparian habitat because of the abundance of green forage in adjacent grassland. Also, grazing impact on habitat condition is generally less in winter because most riparian plants are dormant at that time. Through this passive restoration approach, riparian habitat condition can be improved, benefiting not only native plant conservation, but also non-game and game animal species.
Over time, and as habitat condition is improved, a level of resiliency is established that affords riparian habitat the ability to resist destructive occurrences such as high water events, drought or short-term regressions in grazing practices. On a future visit to Tejon Ranch, ask Conservancy staff or docents about landscape scale resource management and see for yourself how this is occurring within the ranch’s working landscape.
This work has been possible through the support of private donations, a multi-year NRCS grant and of course the cooperation of the Tejon Ranch Company and their cattle lessees.
CSUB Geology undergraduates rewrite geology history
Over two dozen undergraduate interns in the Dept. of Geological Sciences at CSUB have spent the last two summers in the “Pit of Hell” (summer in the San Joaquin) leaving no stone unturned in their insurgent campaign to liberate the conglomerates of southern California.
Undergraduate results dominated the Sedimentary, Clastics division at the national meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA) in Seattle Oct 22-25, 2017 garnering praise from legendary California field geologists Bob McLaughlin, Keith Howard, and Elizabeth Miller. CSUB Geology undergrads presented 17% of the posters in the Sedimentary, Clastics division.
Undergraduates presented evidence for large river systems and changing drainage patterns in the southern San Joaquin Valley that will add important new knowledge to the geologic history of California and help manage water resources in the future. Students were part of a field internship program mentored by Dr. David Miller, CSUB Geological Sciences Lecturer, that is investigating ancient river systems in southern California and is supported by the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP), Dept. of Education, Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP), National Science Foundation (NSF), the Dept of Geological Sciences, CSUB, Research Council of CSUB, the Tejon Ranch Conservancy, and an anonymous donor. CSUB affiliates presenting the results of their research on Tejon Ranch at GSA in 2017 include (bold indicates undergraduate):
Lead authors: SARTI, Ethan, MCKINNEY, Sam, JAMES, Robert N., MILLER, D.E.
Coauthors: MONTEJO, Carlos, GALLAGHER, Tony, SCANLON, Darby, MORENO, Jesus, RODRIGUEZ, Virginia, SPRIESTER, Jacob, WATSON, Kenneth, BUEHLER, Jeff, MCKINNEY, Sam, JACKSON, Jake, EPUNA, Favour, HERRERA, Peyton