University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources
University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources
University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources
University of California
University of California, Agriculture & Natural Resources

UCCE Client Stories - Environment

Conservancy staff find support in UCCE California Naturalist volunteers

The Tejon Ranch Conservancy oversees almost a quarter-million acres. But with a paid staff of only six and a new, ambitious management plan, the Conservancy was struggling to achieve all of its conservation goals. It was clear that the staff needed volunteer help, but they weren’t sure how to find volunteers with the technical know-how and expertise needed to help in their conservation work. UCCE helped connect the Conservancy to graduates of its California Naturalist training curriculum. Anyone who completes the training is certified as a California Naturalist, with the educational background necessary to provide valuable citizen science work for the Conservancy. Since the Tejon Ranch Conservancy adopted the curriculum in the fall of 2013, new volunteers have been monitoring acorn crops, designing and constructing interpretive kiosks, assisting with wildlife monitoring, and working weather stations. Thanks to the California Naturalist curriculum, the Conservancy has been able to expand its capacity and achieve its management goals for protection and conservation of a vital part of California’s natural environment.

Critical tribal oak woodlands saved from sudden oak death

Sudden Oak Death
Sudden Oak Death has been attacking forests along the north and central coast of California for more than a decade. While this has had drastic environmental effects, it’s also affected the people of Native American tribes who rely on oak forests to meet cultural, nutritional, and spiritual needs. Not long ago, the Marin County UCCE office started an initiative to help connect local tribes with UCCE forestry experts and state and federal partners to save their oak woodlands. The effort has since been adopted by a Western Region Tribal IPM Workgroup with the intention to spread the initiative to all western states. One tribal member thanked UCCE, saying “I would like to extend my gratitude to all of you and let you know that you have succeeded in what you said you would do. You have developed a network for tribes to turn to when they have concerns with a healthy forest. Good job and thanks for getting this done.”

 

Public has easy access to local soils data, thanks to UCCE specialist's SoilWeb apps

In the 1990s, the National Cooperative Soil Survey stopped printing hard copies of its soil survey reports. The Survey did continue to publish soil surveys in digital formats, but these were not widely embraced by growers, who found themselves struggling to find critical information that had formerly been more easily available. Recognizing the growers’ need for access, UCCE specialist Toby O’Geen initiated a collaboration between the California Soil Resources Laboratory and USDA–NRCS to develop SoilWeb, a series of user-friendly apps designed to help the general public explore soil survey data. The apps, which work in Google Maps and Google Earth, allow users to access soil data based on GPS coordinates using a smart phone or tablet. Anyone can access these apps and within seconds get detailed information about the properties, taxonomy, land use, and suitability ratings of the soil upon which they are standing.

Smutgrass problem smothered thanks to UCCE specialist solution

Smutgrass Plant
Small smutgrass is an incredibly invasive weed that is threatening California’s irrigated pasture lands. It wipes out native grasses and plants, and grazing cattle won’t touch it. With the total available acreage of irrigated pasture already far below demand, ranchers saw this weed as a serious concern. A team of UCCE specialists and advisors soon devised an effective control method, applying an herbicide with a rotary wiper to ensure that the herbicide was only applied to the smutgrass, doing no damage to the desirable native plants. The team arranged for the local Resource Conservation District to purchase a wiper and lease it to pasture managers, thus saving each of them the cost of having to buy one of their own. The UCCE team continues to educate pasture managers on smutgrass control, and many acres of pasture have been reclaimed from the invasive weed.

UCCE advisors help Land Trust develop effective restoration plan

The Sonoma Land Trust was working on a project to protect a 2.5-mile length of stream on a cattle ranching property by protecting habitats and decreasing erosion. But the Trust was struggling with limited available labor time and monetary resources. Trust representatives came to UCCE seeking advice on how to create the most efficient restoration project possible while using the least amount of resources. Our UCCE advisors pulled ideas from other UCCE stream restoration research projects and worked with the Sonoma Land Trust to develop a long-term monitoring program that lets the Trust use its resources in the most efficient and effective ways.

UCCE in interagency plan to help locals restore salmon habitat

Fresh Salmon
Dave* grew up living on Mill Creek, a Russian River tributary near Healdsburg. He fished for salmon in the streams for many years before the coho salmon population collapsed and salmon fishing was closed. The Coho Salmon Monitoring Program, a collaboration between UCCE, California Sea Grant, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the US Army Corps of Engineers, worked with Dave to conduct population surveys. Through these surveys they identified new and effective monitoring techniques and are now able to see the beginnings of an increase in coho salmon population. With Dave’s help, the monitoring program has been able to track dozens of adult coho salmon that are making their way home to spawn.

 

Here's to another 100 years of science and service!

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