Rangeland Watershed Program
In 1990, leaders in the livestock industry began working with the Range Management Advisory (RMAC) Committee, a technical advisory committee and the State Water Resources Control Board (SRRCB) to develop a nonpoint source pollution control plan for non-federal rangelands. During 1993 and 1994 Ms. Glenda Humiston (former Under Secretary of Agriculture-USDA) and Jim Clawson (UCCE Range Specialist emeritus) drafted the California Rangeland Water Quality Management Plan (CRWQMP) with input from the technical advisory committee and the public during 18 meetings around the state. In early 1995, RMAC approved the plan and in July 1995, the State Water Resources Control Board approved the plan and it became part of California’s Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Plan. Successful implementation of the plan requires that rangeland owners and managers voluntarily develop and implement ranch water quality plans.
In 1990 the Extension Range Specialists initiated the Rangeland Watershed Program (RWP) jointly with USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service to address nonpoint source pollution issues on rangelands. The RWP began as an education and technical assistance program but a research component was initiated in 1993 with funding from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In 1994 Dr. Kenneth Tate joined the program as the UCCE Rangeland Watershed Specialist. Through his efforts the research program has increased in scope and visibility bringing in numerous researchers from UC Davis and Berkeley. In 1997 the Ranch Water Quality Planning Short Course was implemented to help ranchers and non-federal rangeland managers learn about nonpoint source pollution and develop water quality plans for their properties.
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Ranch Water Quality Planning Short Course
Following development and testing of the Ranch Water Quality Planning Short Course from 1994-1997, UCCE farm advisors and USDA NRCS Conservationists began to deliver the short course in September 1997 following the outline in Appendix A. By the fall of 2000 more than 350 ranchers had voluntarily developed water quality plans for more than 1 million acres of privately owned rangeland. By summer of 2002 more than 50 short courses had been taught in 27 counties. Since 1997 rangeland owners and managers have voluntarily developed water quality plans for nearly 400 ranches covering more than 1.2 million acres. This is an important milestone for the regulatory and land management agencies involved because it validates that voluntary programs can be a viable means of protecting water quality on privately owned lands. For the range livestock industry it demonstrates that rangeland owners are proactive in addressing clean water issues. For the university it demonstrates extension education programs can successfully help the livestock industry address environmental issues.
In addition to the completion of plans, the short courses have resulted in the development of at least six landowner driven watershed groups. One landowner from the first short course started the Yaeger/VanDuzen Watershed Group and was later appointed to the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (NCRWQCB). The ranch plans have been accepted by the NCRWQCB as meeting part of the pollution control requirements of the Garcia River TMDL.
The short course has also been copied. The Central Coast Farm Water Quality Program lead by farm advisor Mary Bianchi has patterned a water quality short course for crop producers after the Ranch Water Quality Planning Short Course. The RWQP short course has also been conducted in Oregon.
Currently we are placing the planning documents and education materials for the short course on the web so that ranchers, unable to attend a short course, can develop their water quality plans. A follow-up survey to determine management changes implemented by short course participants since 1997 is currently being conducted by Stephanie Larson, Marin/Sonoma County Farm Advisor and summer intern Kelly Smith with funding support from my SWRCB grant.
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RANCH WATER QUALITY PLANNING SHORT COURSE
MEETING 1 - (date): Nonpoint Source Pollution and Pollution Assessments
Welcome and Introduction (Pre-registration by mail is encouraged) (10)
Introduction to Water Quality Planning (20)
An Introduction to Nonpoint Source Pollution (20)
Regulations and regulatory agencies (20)
State Water Quality Assessment and 303 d list for Local Water Bodies (30)
PLAN CHECKLIST:Basin Water Quality Assessment
Ranch or Watershed Nonpoint Source Self-Assessment (60)
PLAN CHECKLIST: Ranch Nonpoint Source Self Assessment
PLAN CHECKLIST: Property Information, Farm/Ranch Facilities and Resources, Farm/Ranch Operations and Land Use
Homework: Complete Ranch Nonpoint Source Self-Assessment by next meeting. Fill out Property Information, Farm/Ranch Facilities and Resources, Farm/Ranch Operations and Land Use Checklists.
MEETING 2 - (date): Ranch Practices, Goals and Monitoring
Questions/Review (Self Assessment Checklist should be finished) (10)
Current Practices that Protect Water Quality
PLAN CHECKLIST: Complete the Current Practices Section (60)
Review Self-Assessment (10)
PLAN CHECKLIST:Complete goals (30)
PLAN CHECKLIST: Complete Potential Practices Column (20)
Introduction to Monitoring (30)
PLAN CHECKLIST: Complete Monitoring Section
Homework: Finish checklists from Meetings 1 and 2.
MEETING 3 - (date): Ranch Maps
Introduction to Mapping (60 min)
Develop Ranch Maps and complete PLAN CHECKLIST: Ranch Map
PLAN CHECKLIST: Stocking Rate and Carrying Capacity
MEETING 4 - (date): Ranch Water Quality Monitoring Field Workshop
Introduction to Monitoring
Ranch records and historic photos as monitoring tools
RDM or stubble height monitoring
Sediment Inventory & Monitoring
Other methods as appropriate for location
Comments or questions about California Rangelands
Contact: Dr. Mel George # (530) 752-1720
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