Rhythms of the seasons – Healing food-producing lands

The Union Newspaper – Grass Valley
Published June 14th, 2016

Wendell Gilgert and Kelly Weintraub of Point BlueWendell Gilgert walks an old ranch property in Nevada County dotted with Indian grinding stones, old oak trees, seasonal streams and a large meadow.

Many people coming here for the first time would marvel at the beauty of this wide-open, seemingly untouched place.

Gilgert notices the invasive, shallow rooted “thatch” or Medusahead growing where perennial grasses should and the lack of young oaks.

pointblue“The land speaks very loudly about its health,” said Gilgert, Working Lands Program Director from the nonprofit organization, Point Blue Conservation Science.

Point Blue Conservation Science uses nature based science solutions to address climate change, habitat loss and other environmental threats to wildlife and people.

What started as bird habitat research at Point Reyes National Seashore in the 1960s has blossomed to field stations throughout the state – from the Pacific Coast to the Central Valley to the Sierra Nevada – and beyond to even a global reach studying penguin in Antarctica.

An entire program is devoted to working with ranchers like Rob Thompson of Elster Ranch, introducing “herbivory” or grazing livestock back into landscapes to return a healthy balance historically kept in check by grizzly bears chasing nomadic elk herds that once dominated these hills.

“You can use cattle as a tool,” said Thompson.

Cattle, goats, sheep and sometimes pigs help disturb the soil and expose the native seedbed with their hooves. These animals can be used to bring back the deep-rooted perennial grasses that help the soil retain water. Soil becomes healthier, holds more water and stores more carbon.


Read Full Article at TheUnion.com