Thursday, April 17, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Conservationists team up with ranchers, loggers

Modern Conservation

In this photo taken on Nov. 26, 2012 near Friant, Calif., herd manager Logan Page pushes cattle grazing on the Finegold Creek Preserve toward another pasture. The preserve is owned by the Sierra Foothill Conservancy, a Fresno-area land trust that's raising its own beef herd to benefit the environment and to improve its bottom line. (AP Photo/Gosia Wozniacka)

FRIANT — Two cowboys on horses pushed cattle across an expanse of golden hills overgrown with tall grasses and oak trees, up an unpaved road toward another pasture.

From the Sierra Nevada foothills, the cattle will be sent for processing into beef, prized by consumers looking for locally raised, grass-fed meat in California’s Central Valley.

But this isn’t a ranch. It’s a nature preserve managed by the Sierra Foothill Conservancy, a Fresno-area land trust that protects ecosystems. The Conservancy says it is breaking new ground by raising its own beef herd, using cattle to benefit the environment and to improve its bottom line.

The beef operation is one of several novel approaches – cost-effective, though paradoxical – that marry conservation work with industries often held in low esteem by environmentalists.

Across the nation, conservation groups in partnership with ranchers are using cattle to restore native plant species by grazing invasive grasses. Other groups are working with fishermen to fish sustainably, and using logging and mining profits to pave way for forest and salmon restoration.

“There’s been a shift to working more with industries,” said Lynn Huntsinger, professor of rangeland ecology at the University of California, Berkeley. “This is a human landscape. We need food, we need wood, people are crazy about eating salmon. Working closely with those who produce on the land offers opportunities for . . . teaching them about conservation.”

In the past, conservationists relied on purchasing land and setting it aside, away from human activity. Logging, ranching or mining were seen as harmful and incompatible with preservation.

But in recent years, the use of conservation easements to retire development rights on private land has exploded. The easements, which cost a fraction of what it would cost to buy the property, allow landowners to continue working the land.

In areas where nearby urban development has pushed up land values, conservation easements can provide an alternative solution to ranchers who might be tempted to sell their holdings, said Daniel Press, a professor of environmental studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Conservationists “have found that allowing, or even encouraging or designing some way of making money off of properties is the only way to keep them from being degraded further or developed outright,” Press said.

At the Conservancy – which owns about 6,500 acres of land in Fresno, Madera, Merced and Mariposa counties and manages another 20,000 acres for ranchers with easements and for public agencies – allowing ranching on its land was once controversial.

But over the past decade, studies have shown that cattle grazing can help the land, especially vernal pools, temporary collections of water that provide crucial habitat for native plants and invertebrates, said executive director Jeannette Tuitele-Lewis.

“If we don’t graze the foothills, then the European grasses end up choking out a lot of the native plants and it really decreases the biodiversity of the habitat,” Tuitele-Lewis said.

So-called conservation grazing is increasingly used by land trusts and public agencies on preserves and on private ranches throughout the U.S., she said. Most lease land to ranchers, but the Conservancy took the practice a step further. Two years ago, it started its own beef herd under the label Sierra Lands Beef.

The group now runs about 300 cows on 1,800 acres of land. The beef operation provides an additional revenue stream, Tuitele-Lewis said, and allows greater control over grazing management.

The conservancy’s herdsmen transport the cattle, five head at a time, to Fresno State University’s slaughterhouse to be butchered, processed and boxed. They then deliver the grass-fed beef to customers.

“We’re creating a bridge between conservation and the local economy,” Tuitele-Lewis said.

Other conservationists are teaming up with private timber investors such as the Lyme Timber Company based in New Hampshire. The company acquires quality habitat that doubles as timberland, gives up development rights by selling conservation easements to land trusts and public agencies throughout the U.S., then logs the land in a sustainable way to generate an income.

Timber is harvested at or below the annual rate of growth, said Peter Stein, the company’s managing director, and harvesting methods are third party certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative.

The approach is key, Stein said, as conservationists aim to preserve larger tracts of land – in the hundreds of acres – which are too expensive to buy outright.

The Nature Conservancy is also partnering with the timber industry in California and Alaska to restore salmon by felling trees to create stream habitat.

The group has also partnered with the fishing industry. It bought out fishing permits in California and in Maine to protect millions of acres of ocean habitat, then leased the permits back to fishermen who agreed to fish sustainably.

“We’ve come to the realization that you don’t try to do everything yourself. You catalyze the adoption of practices by having ranchers, fishermen and logging companies adopt them, so that you can have widespread impact,” said the group’s North and Central Coast Director Brian Stranko.

But ecologist George Wuerthner says such approaches do more harm than good.

“Given all the impacts associated with these operations, it’s troubling to call it conservation,” said Wuerthner, who works for the California non-profit Foundation for Deep Ecology.

Wuerthner said using terms such as “conservation grazing” gives people the false impression that the practices lack negative costs or impacts. These include damage to riparian areas and to soil, ranchers killing predators, and water pollution from animal waste, he said.

Grazing, logging and other human activities also destroy wild, undisturbed habitat that some species need to survive, Wuerthner said.

The Sierra Foothill Conservancy says it manages grazing to minimize impact on species, leaves some areas ungrazed, and keeps cattle out of riparian habitat. The group hopes to bring other ranchers under its beef label – and in line with its conservation efforts. If these ranchers can get higher premiums for grass-fed meat, it translates into less pressure to sell land to developers.

“Any bit that we can do to help keep the local ranching economy viable is a good thing for us, because it keeps those lands undeveloped,” Tuitele-Lewis said. “The end goal is conservation, not becoming a large land baron.”

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Supervisor candidates square off at forum

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 11 Comments | Gallery

 
Carli takes oath, now Vacaville’s 14th police chief

By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Huge jump in Solano median home price

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A1, 8 Comments | Gallery

 
Donate a car, help build a house

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Solano DA hosts workshop to fight human trafficking

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3, 16 Comments | Gallery

Drugs topic of cardiac class

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A4

 
Fairfield town hall on crime delayed

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4, 12 Comments

 
Railway museum offers wine-tasting rides

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A4

 
Suisun Police log: April 14, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Weather for April 17, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B12

Fairfield police log: April 15, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

 
Suisun City police log: April 15, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: April 14, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

Armed robber was never told to report to prison

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Lost sea lion in California found mile from water

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Body of California man who jumped into river found

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Seabird from Atlantic spotted on Alcatraz

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Ex-Bell city leader gets 12 years in prison

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
California delays decision on protecting gray wolf

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Court rules for environmentalists in water fight

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Governor calls special session on rainy day fund

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

NATO ups military presence amid Russian threat

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

 
Denver police eye 911 response time after killing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

Man charged with marathon hoax is held on bail

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Geneva talks on Ukraine face steep hurdles

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Pro-Russian insurgents seize armored vehicles

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Ferry sinks off South Korea; 6 dead, 290 missing

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

.

Opinion

Obamacare news you probably missed

By Martin Schram | From Page: A11, 7 Comments

 
Editorial Cartoons for April 17, 2014

By Kim Durbin | From Page: A11

In support of Pam Bertani

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 12 Comments

 
Parenting demands responsibility

By Ruben Navarrette | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

 
.

Living

A lesson in household budgeting

By Chris Erskine | From Page: A2

 
Today in History for April 17, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Community Calendar: April 17, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Horoscopes for April 17, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Daniel Radcliffe on why New York audiences rock

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Alicia Silverstone out with book ‘Kind Mama’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Jenny McCarthy announces engagement on ‘The View’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Ailing Malcolm Young taking break from AC/DC

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Disney Channel’s ‘Jessie’ breaks romantic ground

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Sports

Crawford’s 41 points leads Warriors over Nuggets

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Vacaville’s Peralta to wrestle at San Francisco State

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

Angels beat A’s 5-4 on Iannetta’s HR in 12th

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
MEL, SCAC tangle in hoops all-star games

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1

Sharks take goalie questions into rematch vs Kings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Sidney Rice agrees to terms with Seahawks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Goodwin helps Suns to 104-99 win over Kings in finale

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

IndyCar driver Saavedra fined $10K

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Sandoval’s single lifts Giants past Dodgers, 2-1

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Officer: Sharper’s DNA found on 1 Arizona victim

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jets sign former Titans RB Chris Johnson

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Spieth ready for more after Masters success

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Backup QB Matt Flynn returns to Packers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Atlanta lands MLS expansion team for 2017

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Bucks owner Herb Kohl reaches deal to sell team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
.

Business

Yellen: Fed stimulus still needed for job market

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
Some exempted from minimum wage, increased or not

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Fed survey: Growth picks up across most of US

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Bank of America posts loss, hurt by legal charges

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

IBM posts lower 1Q earnings amid hardware slump

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Google’s 1Q earnings disappoint as ad prices slip

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9