1993 Field Trip Report:
Upper Stony Creek Watershed Total Resource Management Field Tour
October 15 & 16, 1993
Secretary, Watershed Management Council
The tour began on a cool and cloudy Friday morning at the Stonyford Rodeo grounds, but the spirits of the 35 participants were not dampened by the impending rain. On the first day, the tour was led by Dan McCabe of the Mendocino National Forest. We viewed off-road vehicle (ORV) trail rehabilitation, glade/meadow restoration and erosion control projects located in the Upper Stony Creek watershed on the Stonyford Ranger District.
In the evening, we returned to the rodeo grounds to listen to an overview of the Landowner Education Program given by Jack Somerville and Gary Gregory, owners of local ranches. The education program describes the benefits derived from modified grazing strategies that lead toward improved and sustainable range conditions and more natural and functional riparian zones. They also described the grant program under PL 566 that makes a limited amount of funds available (as long as they are matched by the landowner) for implementing the program. A very pleasant barbeque prepared by the Stonyford Horseman's Association followed, which was more than satisfying.
On Saturday, we headed to Gary Gregory's ranch for a summary of his operation and goals. Here we saw sprinkler irrigation of pasture, his electric fencing system, and how he's partitioned off his 1000 acre ranch to implement a grazing strategy to increase the number of livestock while enhancing range and riparian vegetation. Other sites visited were a 40-acre ranch with riparian recovery, Chet Voyt's 4400 acre ranch with reservoir impoundment improvements and more electric fencing, and Jack Sommerville's 4500 acre ranch. This last site showed us how upland vegetation management has affected the hydrologic regime downstream in a stabilized channel. Conversion from brush to grass has allowed for greater retention and percolation of rainfall so now the formerly intermittent stream has become a perennial one.
I don't think anyone came away from the field trip without a sense of accomplishment, whether it be as a gain in knowledge of plans and processes or that something as difficult as coordinating large area restoration between many private landowners and public agencies was successful. It made me feel that the work I do is worthwhile.