Utilizing Grazing for Habitat Restoration in Orange County
The Land IQ Habitat Restoration Group has worked with the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA) in Orange County, California, for many years to assist in their goals of balancing the construction of The Toll Roads with protecting open space for native species and wildlife. To date, the TCA has preserved 17 different open spaces in Orange County in perpetuity.
A recent project in the Live Oak Plaza Conservation Area utilizes targeted cattle grazing to reduce fire hazards in degraded nonnative annual grassland and improve habitat for native species. Land IQ prepared the grazing plan, which occurs up to three times a year for short intervals with high stocking rates. These intense grazing intervals allow for targeted management of invasive annual grasses before they produce new seed, followed by longer periods of rest that encourage the growth of native coastal sage scrub and perennial grasses. A critical feature of the plan is the integration of grazing with other forms of weed management to control unpalatable invasives, like thistles and mustards.
In addition to writing the grazing plan, Land IQ monitors the progress of the program. Monitoring after the first year found an increase in bare ground cover, decrease in invasive nonnative vegetative cover, and a decrease in dry vegetation that increases fire risk.
Check out Land IQ Biologist, Travis Brooks, in this short video about grazing in Orange County!