Posts Tagged: Glenn Nader
The rare bird species makes its home in marshes created in large part by leaky pipes, stock ponds, irrigation tailwater and unlined canals. Even the springs that support some habitat may rely on water flowing from leaky canals. In 1994, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources scientists found the small, red-eyed bird with the black breast and speckled black feathers at UC ANR's Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center. Since its discovery, a group of scientists have been exploring the effects of water management and climate change on the bird in Sutter, Butte and Yuba counties.
California black rails, which can be heard more often than seen, largely depend on humans and irrigated agriculture to provide the shallow flowing water they use for habitat.
Property owners responding to the survey said the primary reason for maintaining ponds and wetlands is to reduce wildfire risk, but they also like the birds and wildlife that are attracted by wet areas. However, Huntsinger worries that the “accidental wetlands” may dry up as the drought increases the pressure on people to conserve water by fixing leaks and replacing canals built during the 19th century Gold Rush with pipes.
Most of the farmers and ranchers buy water from a water district so Huntsinger sees working with water districts as a key to the sustainability of wetlands for wildlife.
More and more, she says, it seems that we are facing tradeoffs between “goods”— saving water is good and preserving wildlife habitat is good. “We need flexibility and adaptation rather than all or nothing choices. After all, we are creating the future landscape of California,” Huntsinger said.
Huntsinger's study is just one facet of a California black rail study that involves scientists with different kinds of expertise.
Steve Beissinger, professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley, has been studying black rail behavior for years and continues to monitor how many sites in the Sierra foothills the small birds use as habitat.
Marm Kilpatrick, assistant professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz, studies how concern about mosquito-borne West Nile virus may affect landowners' decisions to maintain wetlands.
“It is a novel ecosystem, offering habitat engineered by people and their livestock that happens to offer the black rail what it needs,” Huntsinger said. “We just don't know enough about conservation in this kind of situation. Managing traditional landscapes is common in Europe, but rare in the United States.”
For more information about the California black rail, see the California Agriculture article “California black rails depend on irrigation-fed wetlands in the Sierra Nevada foothills.”
Below, UC Berkeley graduate student Nathan Van Schmidt describes research at UC Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center on how the rails cope with drought, seasonal hydrology regimes, and the rescue effect.
An initiative to maintain and enhance sustainable natural ecosystems is part of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Strategic Vision 2025.
"From previous droughts we've learned that feeding the whole herd through the drought may spell the end of business," Nader said. "We plan to provide information on management options and impacts of drought on dryland range and irrigated pasture, feeding options to consider during a drought and how to decide what cows to sell."
Nader is organizing the workshop, "Mitigating Drought - Optimizing Pasture and Supplemental Feed, and Managing Risk," with Jeremy James, director of the UC Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center.
The workshop is designed to provide ranchers with information to manage their herds during a period of low feed supply. Practical tools and strategies to be presented include:
- Getting the most effective use out of limited dryland and irrigated pasture
- Alternative protein and roughage supplementation
- Understanding the economics of supplementation
- Managing animal health
- Making culling decisions
- Tax and insurance issues related to drought
The meeting will be at the UC Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center, 8279 Scott Forbes Rd., Browns Valley, CA 95918. The complete agenda is posted online. Registration is $10 and includes lunch. To register, fill in this online form.
The forum will also be webcast for those that cannot attend in person. Register using the same online form.
Seven locations in the state will host meetings with the drought meeting webcast:
|Hopland||Research and Extension Center
4070 University Road
|John Harper, (707) 463-4495|
|San Luis Obispo||UC Cooperative Extension Auditorium
2156 Sierra Way
|Royce Larson, (805) 434-4106|
3585 Greenville Road, Suite 2
|Alyson Aquino, (925) 371-0154 x116|
|Ventura||Ventura Farm Bureau
5156 McGrath St
|Fletcher Nelson, (661) 945-2604 x111|
|Bakersfield||UC Cooperative Extension office
1031 South Mount Vernon Ave.
|Julie Finzel, (661) 868-6219|
|Tulare||Veterinary Medicine Teaching and Research Center
18830 Road 112
|Jim Sullins, (559) 684-3309|
|Mariposa||UCCE Mariposa County Office -Ag Complex
5009 Fairgrounds Road
|Fadzayi Mashiri. (209) 966-2417|