Stanford University's Woods Institute for the Environment and Bill Lane Center for the American West hosted an "Uncommon Dialogue" on California ranching and rangelands. The purpose of this dialogue was to build on momentum that is developing in California to protect threatened grassland and woodland landscapes that provide an abundance of biophysical and social ecosystem services. Governor Brown's budget proposal to remove funding for the Williamson Act makes providing policy and research recommendations on options for protecting these landscapes timely.

The California Rangeland Conservation Coalition, which includes a large segment of all of the stakeholders in this issue, has fostered a platform for exchanging information and working with the policy community. We convened a small representative stakeholder group (ranchers, NGO's, state and federal government agencies, and university scientists) to have a dialogue on what solutions are possible to address the crisis that we face in maintaining these systems.          

Dialogue Objectives 

Our objectives for the dialogue will be to develop two products at this meeting. The first document will be a background paper that will be targeted at a broader audience and focus on the need to protect California rangelands and what is at stake in these ecosystems. The second document will focus on the policy instruments currently available or needed for ensuring rangelands continue to provide valued social and biophysical ecosystem services.

Dialogue sessions:

  • An historical overview of grazing systems throughout the history of the state, including the importance of heritage and cultural services; 
  • How these systems function and the biophysical and social services they provide;
  • Valuation of these services, both private and public goods;
  • The cumulative threats to these systems;
  • Best management practices to enhance ecosystem service production;
  • Instruments for change-or solutions to meet the crisis that we all understand.


Related links:

The Bill Lane Center for the American West

Livestock in a Changing Landscape co-edited by Hal Mooney

California Rangelands Resolution

California Department of Conservation, Division of Land Resource Protection

USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program

U.C. Davis Rangelands Research

California Rangeland Watershed Laboratory, U.C. Davis

Val Eviner Research, U.C. Davis

Jim Bartolome Research, U.C. Berkeley

Lynn Huntsinger Research, U.C. Berkeley

California Cattlemen's Association

California Rangeland Conservation Coalition

California Rangelands Resolution

California Rangeland Trust

Defenders of Wildlife - Economic Analysis of Benefits of Habitat Conservation on California Rangelands

The Nature Conservancy, Sustainable Ranching

Audubon Society, California Chapter

Golden State Grasslands, San Francisco Chronicle

Bill to cut farm conservation programs advances, San Francisco Chronicle

Cow's hoofs and healthy appetite help bring back endangered Contra Costa goldfields, Contra Costa Times