Gold Ridge Resource Conservation District

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

Common Range Plants in California’s Interior Valley, Foothills, and Coastal Zone

This plant guide is a result of requests from many NRCS field offices who conduct conservation planning on California’s rangelands. The desire to know which plant species provide a forage base for livestock, was the impetus for this guide. California’s annual grassland and oak woodlands are a vast area of the state, com-promising approximately 14.5 million acres. The area is dominated by a Mediterranean climate with cool wet winters and summer drought. Rains typically begin in middle to late October and continue through April, followed by a summer drought. During the dry season annual plants survive as seed and perennial herbaceous vegetation becomes dormant. The area of the state dominated by the annual grassland vegetation type extends from the Sierra foothills to the east, west to the Pacific coast and from the south coast to just north of Redding in Shasta County. This annual grassland area is dotted with native perennial grasses, forbs and legumes, each providing a unique structural and functional capacity on the landscape. They provide livestock and wildlife forage at various times of the year and with various qualities.
This guide will help the user identify the species and their forage value. It can be used to assist with conservation planning, resource assessments, Natural Resource Inventory (NRI) plant identification, prescribed grazing plan development, and indicators of rangeland health.
The guide covers many areas of the state dominated by annual grasslands and include 9 Major Land Resource Areas (MLRA’s) including the Central California Coastal Valleys (14), Central California Coast Range (15), California Delta (16), Sacramento and San Joaquin Delta (17), Sierra Nevada Foothills (18), Southern California Coastal Plains (19) and Southern California Mountains (20) and to a lesser extent the non-forested portions of the Coastal Redwood Belt (4), and Siskiyou-Trinity (5). Within the grasslands of MLRA 4 and 5 annual grasslands are mixed with perennial grasses, as are coastal portions of MLRA 14 & 15 where sufficient moisture will support native perennial grasses. The plants included in this guide are a mere snapshot of those most dominate throughout the state.
It is by no means a complete list of herbaceous plant species that occur in the state. There are thousands of grasses, forbs and legumes in California. When species occur that aren’t included here, further investigation should occur using any of the various plant guides that cover species of California.
Source:  USDA NRCS (uploaded to the fabulous On Pasture website).

Fire-safety inspections starting on 3,500 rural Sonoma County properties

From left, Cal Fire’s Brennen Maldonado, Matt Newberry and Ben Smutney walk the Chapman Lane neighborhood in Petaluma, Wednesday, May 22, 2019, as they look for fire hazard areas around homes with flammable vegetation and weed choked lots. Record rainfall has created a bumper crop of annual grasses. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat) 2019

For the first time, Sonoma County fire officials are inspecting thousands of rural properties this spring for compliance with tree trimming, grass cutting and other guidelines to create a firebreak around homes.

The goal of the vegetation management inspections is to establish “defensible space” around homes, making them easier to protect from wildfires.

State and local firefighters have long endorsed the concept, and Cal Fire has conducted inspections for years, but relied on voluntary compliance by landowners.

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Source:  Guy Kovner, The Press Democrat, May 27, 2019

Growing fire threat puts Sonoma County’s wooded towns on high alert

In an area of Camp Meeker redwoods scarred by wildfires in the past, Richard Seaman, the founder of Fire Safe Camp Meeker, is promoting ways to keep the community fire safe by restoring the forest back to health, eliminating dead tan oak and bay laurels and thinning of trees, Wednesday, May 22, 2019. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat) 2019

Standing on the south slope of Healdsburg’s Fitch Mountain, Cal Fire Battalion Chief Marshall Turbeville surveyed a distressing scene.

Above him, a towering fir tree was close enough to fall across two roads, blocking access and bringing down power lines that could remain live and dangerous on the ground. To one side, the roof and gutters of a residential structure were full of leaves ready to ignite from a windblown wildfire ember in dry weather.

On the way up Spring Street, Turbeville’s four-wheel drive pickup had met a descending UPS truck, forcing him to pull off the substandard, single-lane road. In an emergency, fire engines and evacuating residents could be at a similar standoff.

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Source:  Guy Kovner, The Press Democrat, May 25, 2019

After contest win, Davis company will start producing animal feed from insects – from the Sacramento Business Journal

Image result for After contest win, Davis company will start producing animal feed from insects

The BioMilitus team won $22,000 and in-kind services valued at $3,000 in the 2019 Big Bang! Business Competition at UC Davis. Shown left to right are UC Davis researcher Jesus Fernandez-Bayo and graduate students Lydia Palma and Matthew Paddock. Photo by Jose Villegas for the Sacramento Business Journal

A Davis company is buzzing after winning big at University of California Davis’ annual innovation and business competition.

BioMilitus, which studies the use of insects in reducing agricultural waste and creating animal feed, took home a total of $22,000 in prize money from the Big Bang! Business Competition last Thursday.

The company, a team of four UC Davis graduate students and one researcher, won a total of five awards, including the $10,000 Central Valley Innovation Award and the $7,500 People’s Choice Award. It also won $3,000 in services at the UC Davis-HM.Clause Life Science Innovation Center, an off-campus business incubator with biochemistry, molecular biology and chemistry lab space.

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Source:  Sacramento Business Journal.

Vineyard manager uses bluebirds to control blue-green sharpshooters

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If you build it they will come — or words to that effect — is what a friend told Spring Mountain Vineyards Manager Ron Rosenbrand a year ago.

The friend was “Amigo Bob” Cantisano, a sage of organic farming, and he wasn’t talking about laying out a baseball diamond in the middle of an Iowa cornfield to attract the ghosts of Shoeless Joe Jackson and Ty Cobb, et al. Cantisano was talking about building birdhouses to attract bluebirds to the Spring Mountain vineyards to combat the blue-green sharpshooter, which, as a smaller cousin to the more notorious glassy winged sharpshooter, is sometimes called “the wine bug.” Sharpshooters spread Pierce’s disease, which dehydrates the vines and kills them within two or three years.

What Cantisano told him, Rosenbrand recalls, was that there isn’t a good natural insect predator to attack the sharpshooters, but he might try bluebirds.

“I said, ‘OK, that sounds great, but where do I buy bluebirds?’ He said, ‘You don’t buy them — you just build houses for them and they will come,’” said Rosenbrand.

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Source:  John Lindblom, St. Helena Star / Napa Valley Register, April 16, 2019