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Posts Tagged: Stephanie Larson

Videos show hikers how to avoid Black Friday stampedes on park trails

In a new series of videos, a cow puppet provides advice for hikers from UC Cooperative Extension on sharing open space with livestock.

While Americans traditionally beat a path to the malls the day after Thanksgiving, many opt out of shopping on Black Friday to enjoy the outdoors. In regional parks and other open spaces, hikers may encounter crowds of a different sort – cattle grazing with their calves. A 1,200-pound cow blocking the path can be daunting.

With a little patience and understanding, people who hike, bike and horseback ride can coexist peacefully with the cattle, according to Sheila Barry, UC Cooperative Extension livestock and natural resources advisor in Santa Clara County.

For happier trails, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources has produced a series of videos that show hikers how they can amicably share open space with their beefy neighbors. In a two-minute video, a black cow puppet with a furry white face describes how to politely coax cows to moo-ove aside without spurring a Black Friday stampede.

“We wanted to produce videos that are entertaining as well as informative,” Barry said. 

The cow pun-filled video also describes the ecosystem services cattle provide by consuming nearly their body weight in plants. By grazing, cows manage the vegetation, reducing wildfire fuel, increasing water capture and promoting the diversity of native grasses and wildflowers.

In “Sharing open spaces with livestock,” the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources livestock experts give four simple tips for safely sharing open space with cows on the trail: 

  1. Keep moo-ving and speak in a normal tone. Sudden movements and loud noises may surprise cows.
  2. Approach cows from the side or front. They find it udderly unnerving to have someone sneak up from behind, the bovine blind spot.
  3. Steer clear of getting between a protective mother and her calf.
  4. If you need to move a cow, step slowly into its flight zone. Invading the animal's “personal space” will motivate it to mosey aside.

A second video, “Sharing open spaces with livestock when you have a dog,” gives advice for dog owners to keep their best friends safe around cows.

In a third video, “A year in the life of a cow,” the UC Cooperative Extension spokespuppet describes a typical year for a beef cow.

“The videos are a fun way to educate the public about grazing on rangelands,” said Stephanie Larson, UC Cooperative Extension livestock and rangeland advisor in Sonoma County.

The videos are based on the UC ANR publication “Understanding Working Rangelands,” authored by Barry and Larson, at http://ucanr.edu/shareopenspace.

Watch all three videos on UC ANR's YouTube channel:

Sharing open spaces with livestock https://youtu.be/Qd8LEGLDhaM

Sharing open spaces with livestock when you have a dog https://youtu.be/zzdGnfFwmcA

A year in the life of a cow https://youtu.be/znJbWknVXVg

Posted on Friday, November 17, 2017 at 8:48 AM

Anti-GMO measure is on the Sonoma County ballot

Sonoma County residents are voting today whether to join neighboring counties in a ban of genetically modified agricultural crops, reported Filipa Ioannou in the San Francisco Chronicle.

County voters rejected a similar ordinance 11 years ago. However, judging from the money donated to the campaigns in favor and against Measure M, some minds have been changed. In 2005, more than a $1 million went into the fight, with opponents outspending supporters by about $55,000. This time, the supporters have raised more than detractors, with the campaign in favor receiving $278,233, and the campaign against $67,500, the article said.

Few genetically engineered crops - probably only corn and alfalfa - are known to grow in Sonoma County. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

This comes despite an impact report by the director of UC Cooperative Extension in Sonoma County, Stephanie Larson. The report says few genetically engineered crops are now grown in Sonoma County and the potential impact of the ordinance on the growth of the local agricultural industry is not known. Larson's report says GMO crops have bee consumed by humans in billions of servings of food over 20 years without a single documented health problem. 

“Is this maybe a solution in search of a problem? I wonder about that,” said Kim Vail, executive director of the Sonoma County Farm Bureau. “We live in a free-market economy. Consumers have choices, producers should have choices. Let the market decide.”

Passage of Measure M would align the county with its neighbors. Marin County, which passed Measure B in 2004, was the first to ban GMOs in the United States. Four other Northern California counties - Humboldt, Mendocino, Santa Cruz and Trinity - have banned genetically modified agricultural crops.

Update: Measure M passed with nearly 60 percent of the vote.

Posted on Tuesday, November 8, 2016 at 3:39 PM
Tags: GMO (17), Stephanie Larson (9)

Glenda Humiston named vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources

Glenda Humiston
Longtime Sonoma County resident Glenda Humiston has been named vice president of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, reported Angela Hart in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Humiston was appointed by UC President Janet Napolitano and confirmed by the UC Board of Regents. Her first day in her new post is Aug. 3.

"I'm excited beyond belief," Humiston told the Press Democrat. "This is such an opportunity to make a difference on many levels."

Humiston succeeds Barbara Allen-Diaz, who retired June 29.

The new vice president grew up raising cattle in Colorado and credits her participation in 4-H as a child with developing her interest in farmland preservation and environmental sustainability. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tunisia, was deputy undersecretary for the USDA during the Clinton administration, and her most recent position has been California state director of USDA Rural Development.

“I've spent my whole life trying to bridge agriculture and environmental issues,” Humiston said. “What people don't realize is it's a natural bridge. When people get past the fighting, they often realize we have 80 percent in common.”

Stephanie Larson, UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisor and director of the Sonoma County office, called the appointment of the Sonoma County resident "exciting."

“If you think about Sonoma County, we have a half-million acres that can function as some form of working landscape — like forest lands, croplands and water," Larson said. "Everything has an opportunity and these are going to be key to address drought and climate change.”

Posted on Thursday, July 23, 2015 at 3:39 PM

People and cattle can share open space

People and cattle can peacefully coexist on working rangelands. (Photo: Pixabay)
When a hiker on a San Francisco Bay Area parkland unknowingly walked between a cow and her calf, the mother came over, knocked the hiker down and stepped on him. In another incident, a woman walking her dogs off leash was chased by cows. She slipped and sprained an ankle.

Such incidents, though rare, prompted UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) experts to write guidelines for people who hike, cycle or ride horses in natural areas where grazing cattle are used to manage the land. The four-page publication, Sharing Open Space: What to Expect from Grazing Livestock, is available for free download from the UC ANR online catalog.

“Areas that were traditionally rangelands, especially in urban counties, are more and more often becoming parklands,” said Stephanie Larson, UC ANR Cooperative Extension livestock advisor in Sonoma County and lead author of the publication. “State parks generally remove grazing, but we didn't want to see that at regional and county parks.”

Cattle grazing can provide important services to these working landscapes, like managing the vegetation, reducing fire hazards, increasing water capture, and promoting the diversity of plant. With education, Larson believes, people who hike, bike and horseback ride can coexist peacefully with the cattle.

Cattle may seem intimidating because of their size, but they are vulnerable to attack by coyotes and other predators. As prey animals, cows naturally experience and express fear and protective behavior, especially when unfamiliar people and animals are near and to protect their young.

Cattle can feel threatened by dogs, which they will perceive as predators. The guidelines recommend keeping dogs close and under complete control at all times. Just like people, dogs should never get between a cow and her calf.

The guidelines detail typical cattle posture when relaxed and when agitated, their response to intrusions into their personal space (or “flight zone”), and reactions to loud noises.

“Unless you need to move cattle out of your way, such as move them off a narrow trail, it's best to give them plenty of space and avoid their flight zone altogether,” the guidelines advise.

Injured cattle should be reported and left alone. The guidelines suggest people never approach a cow from behind, make quick movements or flap their arms, or try to “rescue” calves that seem to be separated from their mothers.

“The mother may be off drinking or eating, and will return to the baby,” the authors write. “She may even be watching you.”

Co-authors of the guidelines with Larson are Sheila Barry, UC ANR livestock and natural resources advisor in the Bay Area, and rangeland management consultant Lisa Bush.

An initiative to maintain and enhance sustainable natural ecosystems is part of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Strategic Vision 2025.

Posted on Thursday, May 7, 2015 at 11:13 AM
Tags: cycling (1), hiking (3), rangeland (27), Sheila Barry (5), Stephanie Larson (9)

UC ANR publication helps hikers co-exist with cows

Hikers, cyclists and runners can learn to enjoy nature alongside grazing cattle with information from a new UC Agriculture and Natural Resources publication, reported Andrew McGall in the Contra Costa Times.

Sharing Open Space: What to Expect from Grazing Livestock, written by Stephanie Larson, UC ANR Cooperative Extension livestock advisor, is available free in ANR Catalog.

The publication explains how to read the behavior patterns of cows with calves, heifers, steers and bulls. For example, when approaching a cow on the trail, it's best to stay in it's "flight zone" to encourage it to move out of the way.

The guideline says dogs accompanying hikers must be kept under control.

"Cattle see dogs as predators," the brochure warns. "This is especially true for mother cows, who naturally become aggressive when trying to protect their young."

The story was also covered by the Sacramento Bee on May 27:

Moooving along: How to handle a cow on the trail
Sam McManis, Sacramento Bee, May 27, 2015
Waving one's arms, clapping and yelling? Not recommended, according to a new downloadable brochure, “Sharing Open Space: What to Expect From Grazing Livestock,” published by University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “(Cattle) don't necessarily react how you expect them to, because of that issue with the flight zone,” said Sheila Barry, UC ANR Cooperative Extension advisor. “So, you think, ‘Hey, I'm getting really close, why aren't you moving, cow?' Most will move off, eventually. But there's part of it that's just not predictable.”

A new free UC ANR publication helps hikers, bikers and runners peacefully co-exist with grazing animals.
Posted on Friday, May 1, 2015 at 11:08 AM

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