The invasion of exotic annual grasses into California grasslands that were once dominated by perennial bunchgrasses has drastically altered ecological structure and function. To evaluate the efficacy of a planned grazing program to restore native perennial grasses, we conducted vegetation monitoring at TomKat Ranch in Pescadero, California. TomKat Ranch is 728 hectares (1,800 acres) with a cow-calf operation (a permanent herd) of approximately 100â€“150 head. Beginning in 2008 and continuing until 2011, the Ranch employed season-long, continuous grazing practices where cattle were allowed to graze over large portions of the ranch for several months at a time. In 2011, the ranch adopted a planned grazing approach where they increased cattle density by putting them in small blocks and moved them quickly through subdivided fields. To monitor changes in grassland plant community, we measured vegetation composition across all grasslands each July from 2011 to 2013. From 2011 to 2013, the number of vegetation survey units where native perennial grasses were detected increased from 8% to 80%. The cover of native grasses remained small, but increased in the survey units from 0% in 2011 to 3% in 2013. We hypothesize that planned grazing promotes perennial grasses by reducing the competitive advantage of invasive annual grasses and providing periods of rest, especially during plant flowering, that allows for native perennial seed production and increased plant numbers, vigor and size. We need to further understand the effects of intensity of grazing for native grass restoration at larger spatial scales.
Oral presentation and poster titles, abstracts, and authors from the Society for Range Management (SRM) Annual Meetings and Tradeshows, from 2013 forward.