• Animal grazing is one resource management technique that we use to control invasive species such as yellow star thistle.
• Grazing is also a technique used for weed abatement to lessen the grassland fire danger by the reduction in fuel load.
• Grazing has been shown to help in the survival of native plants by removing the taller, invasive and dominant plants that crowd out natives and create a thick thatch that does not allow native plants to have access to water and sunlight.
• These same techniques benefit our native wildlife through providing native habitats that contain shelter and food for animal life through the availability of a diverse plant environment.
• Grazing operations benefit native wildlife by providing water in stock ponds and water troughs that are in place for cattle grazing.
• Cattle grazing was an important part of Walnut Creek history and the majority of Open Space lands would not have been available for inclusion into the Open Space Division had they not been held as ranching lands as the area developed
WHERE DO WE HAVE GRAZING
• Acalanes Open Space: goats or sheep are used in a limited area below homes for the removal of weed species as part of the weed abatement program for a period of 7 – 15 days in the late spring
• Shell Ridge Open Space: approximately 40% of Shell Ridge has seasonal cattle grazing during the winter and early spring
• Lime Ridge Open Space – Paraiso tract: seasonal cattle grazing takes place in a very small area of central Lime Ridge
• Lime Ridge Open Space – North: in 2015/16 cattle will be returning to North Lime Ridge in a rotational grazing operation using fenced pasture with electric fence
WHAT IS THE GRAZING OPERATION
• Cattle and sheep or goat grazing operations are determined by site specific conditions (including weather) and grazing goals.
• Seasonal grazing is used with open range cattle making use of the available feed.
• Rotational grazing controls the movement of cattle or other species through the properties using fencing to control the animal movement and grazing time to prevent both overgrazing and undergrazing.
• We have specific requirements in differing parts of the Open Space in regard to grazing. We do not allow grazing in areas that are not large enough to allow a separation between Open Space users and the grazing animals. Sugarloaf and Acalanes Open Spaces have been determined to be too small to effectively separate users from animals.
ADDRESSING THE CONCERNS OF THE PUBLIC
• The Open Space Division has begun a program called the Safe Trails Initiative. This initiative provides information to the public on operations such as cattle grazing to alert them as to what conditions they may find in the Open Space and how to contact staff to get additional information or report concerns.
• Staff works with our contracted grazers to alleviate problems between site users and the grazing animals. This may take the form of moving cattle away from a specific area or the requirement that cattle have ear tags so that problem animals may be identified.
• Signs and stickers on gates are in place to notify the public that cattle are grazing an area. This allows the public to know what operations are in place and how we wish them to help us manage the operation through messages such as asking them to leave gates as they are found, either latched open or closed.
• A new form will be in place during the 2015/16 grazing period to fully document public comments about grazing which will allow staff to further assess the program and work with our grazing partners on adaptations to the program as needed.