Targeted Grazing for Fuel Load Reduction

Project Overview

OW22-373
Project Type: Professional + Producer
Funds awarded in 2022: $74,811.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2023
Grant Recipient: University of California Cooperative Extension
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Stephanie Larson
University of California Cooperative Extension

Commodities

  • Animals: bovine, goats, sheep

Practices

  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, grazing - multispecies, rangeland/pasture management

    Proposal abstract:

    Wildfires in California and throughout the West are growing increasingly severe. Fire season is lasting longer, wildfires are larger, and wildfire effects are negatively impacting ecosystems and communities. The lack of fuels management, especially in and adjacent to the wildland-urban interface (WUI) is exacerbating these impacts and threatening both natural resources and human communities. Municipalities, homeowner associations, utilities, and other landowners and managers are searching for cost-effective and ecologically sensitive tools for addressing annual and long-term fuel-loading. In the California North Bay counties of Sonoma and Marin, as well is in the Sierra Foothill counties of Placer and Nevada, grazing can be one of the most effective tools available.

    Concurrently, rangeland livestock producers are increasingly interested in diversifying their operations to include targeted grazing services. Unlike conventional grazing management, targeted grazing refocuses the outputs of grazing from livestock production to vegetation management and landscape enhancement (Launchbaugh and Walker 2006). While there is increasing demand for these services, ranchers have concerns over animal well-being, especially in the context of forage nutrition.

    This project will assess both landowner/manager motivations for and satisfaction with targeted grazing as a fuels management tool, as well as producer knowledge of forage species (including nutrition) and strategic use of grazing to address critical wildfire mitigation needs in coastal and foothill landscapes. We will use these research products to design outreach tools to help connect landowners/managers with grazing contractors, and to help conventional producers decide if a targeted grazing enterprise will enhance the economic viability of their operations.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. We will increase landowner/manager knowledge of grazing and access to grazing services by improving and expanding Match.Graze (https://matchgraze.com), an online database created by University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Livestock Advisor Stephanie Larson (the principle investigator on this project).
    2. We will develop field survey and analysis tools for targeted grazing practitioners to assess the forage value (palatability and nutrition) and appropriate season and age class to optimize both fuels reduction and livestock production goals via targeted grazing.
    3. We will collaborate with fire planning professionals to provide a better understanding to landowners/managers and targeted grazing practitioners as to where grazing can be most effective strategically across north coast and foothill landscapes.
    4. We will provide business planning and economic analysis tools to targeted grazing practitioners and conventional livestock producers to help enhance the economic viability of their operations.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.