Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District

We inspire and partner with our community to protect the natural resources and agricultural future of our District.

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Seaweed could hold the key to cutting methane emissions from cow burps

This cow has the right idea. Cow image from

Canadian researchers Rob Kinley and Alan Fredeen have found that seaweed not only helped improve the cows’ health and growth, but also reduced their methane production by about 20%.

This and other lines of evidence led Kinley, who by then had moved to CSIRO, to team up with other CSIRO scientists and marine algae specialists at James Cook University to test a wide range of seaweeds.

They tested 20 seaweed species and found that they reduce methane production in test-tube samples from cow stomachs by anything from zero to 50%. But to do this required high amounts of seaweed (20% by weight of the sample) which was likely to present digestion issues for animals.

But when the researchers tested a particular type of seaweed collected from Queensland’s coastal waters, they thought their instruments were broken and ran the tests again. It turns out that Asparagopsis taxiformis reduces methane production by more than 99% in the lab. And unlike other seaweeds where the effect diminishes at low doses, this species works at doses of less than 2%.

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Source:  Michael Battaglia, CSIRO blog, October 14, 2016.

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What if nature, like corporations, had the rights of a person?


In recent years, the US supreme court has solidified the concept of corporate personhood. Following rulings in such cases as Hobby Lobby and Citizens United, US law has established that companies are, like people, entitled to certain rights and protections.

But that’s not the only instance of extending legal rights to nonhuman entities. New Zealand took a radically different approach in 2014 with the Te Urewera Act which granted an 821-square-mile forest the legal status of a person. The forest is sacred to the Tūhoe people, an indigenous group of the Maori. For them Te Urewera is an ancient and ancestral homeland that breathes life into their culture. The forest is also a living ancestor. The Te Urewera Act concludes that “Te Urewera has an identity in and of itself” and thus must be its own entity with “all the rights, powers, duties, and liabilities of a legal person”. Te Urewera holds title to itself.

 Although this legal approach is unique to New Zealand, the underlying reason for it is not. Over the last 15 years I have documented similar cultural expressions by Native Americans about their traditional, sacred places. As an anthropologist, this research has often pushed me to search for an answer to the profound question: What does it mean for nature to be a person?
Source:  Chip Colwell, The Guardian, October 12, 2016

Sebastopol Area Time Bank

Image result for time bank sebastopol

This all-volunteer, grassroots initiative sponsored by Cittaslow Sebastopol and the City of Sebastopol, assists Sebastopol residents in securing services they need or want without having to spend dollars. Instead, members provide services for each other in exchange for “Time Bank Hours.”

Why a Timebank?

It builds community, one hour at a time.

People today have “weak links.”  We have lots of Facebook friends and we are connected by technology but all those likes don’t compare to connections made when neighbors help neighbors. A timebank combines the best of both worlds, using technology to provide opportunities for people to meet and help each other face to face. Strong connections lead to better a quality of life.








Orientation meetings

The Sebastopol Area Time Bank will be holding several orientation meetings in October. Some will be during the day, some at night, some on the weekend, some during the weekday. Beginning in November, this will change to only one orientation a month.

Learn more here.

Source:  Cittaslow Sebastopol and the City of Sebastopol.

Partner Profile: Resource Conservation Districts

Image result for calcan logo

Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs) are special districts throughout California established to work at the local level to conserve natural resources, including agriculture. RCDs work directly with landowners whom voluntarily seek their assistance for a multitude of projects, ranging from water conservation, erosion control, grazing management and nutrient management on their properties, to name a few. Assistance can come in many forms, such as education through workshops, hands-on training, and technical support for projects, including planning and design services, site assessments to discuss issue areas and solutions, construction oversight and monitoring. In some cases, RCDs can provide financial support to landowners through grants, permits, or partnering with USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Services programs.

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Source:  Beth Smoker, CalCAN blog, October 5, 2016

Secrets of life in the soil

Early on a cold spring morning, Diana Wall is trying out a tool normally used to make holes on golf courses — and she can’t contain her excitement. Her team has always used more laborious methods to take samples of soil and its resident organisms. “Oh, that’s a beautiful core,” she says as one student bags a sample filled with tiny roundworms. “Hello, nematodes!”

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Source:  Rachel Cernansky, Nature, September 13, 2016

US Drought Monitor – October 4, 2016


The new water year started over the West with some rain along the coastal regions of northern California, Oregon, and Washington as well as much of central and eastern Arizona. Areas in eastern Idaho, southwest Montana, and northwest Wyoming also recorded widespread precipitation this week. Temperatures were warmer than normal from the Great Basin into the Rocky Mountains, with departures of 6-8 degrees above normal. Most other areas were normal to cooler than normal along the west coast, with departures there of 2-4 degrees below normal. Improvements were made this week to the moderate drought in southwest Washington and extreme northwest Oregon. Accordingly, some improvements were also made to the abnormally dry conditions in this area. Abnormally dry conditions also improved in central Colorado, southwest Wyoming and north central Wyoming in response to the most recent wet pattern. An assessment of conditions in northeast Wyoming led to a reduction in severe drought, similar to what was done in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Arizona saw D0 conditions improve in the southeast and northwest portions of the state where the greatest rains fell.

Looking Ahead

Over the next 5-7 days, many across the Southeast and along the eastern seaboard will be watching to see what Hurricane Matthew does. There is a potential for significant rains over drought areas, so it will be watched closely. Precipitation is anticipated over much of the central United States from New Mexico northeastward into the Great Lakes, with some areas projected to receive 2-3 inches of rain. Another storm system will impact the Pacific Northwest, bringing with it heavy rains along the coastal regions of Washington and Oregon. Temperatures during this time remain above normal, with only those areas along the coastal region, where rain is expected, projected to record temperatures near normal or slightly below.

More here.

Source:  Brian Fuchs, National Drought Mitigation Center

Made by Rain, Mushrooms Also Make It


Section of a mushroom gill from the genus Coprinus. A=sterigma, B=basidium, C=basidiospore, D=Immature basidium. Scale bar = 0.01mm.By Jon Houseman – Jon Houseman and Matthew Ford, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Every year, fungi make 50 million tons of airborne spores—enough to coat every square millimeter of Earth’s surface with 1,000 spores each. The mass of those spores would balance 137 Empire State Buildings, 527 USS Enterprises (the aircraft carrier, not the starship)—or about 20 million Oscar Mayer Weinermobiles.

We know why the fungi are making those spores, and we know why they are floating around in the atmosphere: to disperse their parents’ genes. But with all those spores up there, one has to wonder if anything else might be going on – as some scientists at Miami University in Ohio and Mount St. Joseph University in Cincinnati recently did.

Most of the fungal spores floating around in the atmosphere are made by mushrooms. Mushrooms are basidiomycetes, a vast group of fungi that get their name from the way they make their spores. Basidiospores grow from basidia – club-shaped cells with four terminal prongs called sterigmata. The spores inflate from the tips of these prongs like balloons. There are four because these cells’ nuclei are the four products of meiosis—sexual cell division—within the basidium.

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Source:  Jennifer Frazer, The Artful Amoeba, Scientific American, February 24, 2016