From a modest office near downtown Woodland, the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and its local partner, the Yolo County Resource Conservation District, help farmers and ranchers with a range of business matters. More importantly for Yolo Audubon, they also help rural landowners create and improve habitat for birds.
For example, in the ranching country of our western hills–the blue oak woodlands– NRCS shares the cost of planting native shrubs and trees along watercourses and advises on cattle grazing regimes that improve vegetative cover for birds.
On valley farmland, NRCS helps install native plant hedgerows on field edges, which creates homes for birds and expands food choices for pollinator bees and butterflies. The Service works with landowners to improve and extend the timing of flooding of fields, mostly for wintering waterfowl and for crucial shorebird foraging before and after their migrations.
To help these efforts, the Woodland office has partnered over the last six years with Point Blue Conservation Science to have a wildlife biologist, Corey Shake, on staff. Corey works to advise landowners on how to create habitat benefits, and counts birds to see their response to the installed practices.
Corey also monitors soil health, plant communities, and cattle forage (i.e., grasses, since those are important to ranchers). He is one of a dozen biologists in the partnership who collectively monitor birds on nearly eighty ranches statewide.
Corey’s clients include Yanci Ranch, where Yolo Audubon has helped to finance habitat improvements for tricolored blackbirds, and Audubon California’s Bobcat Ranch, which is revising its cattle grazing regime with his advice (see my February 2018 article).
If these efforts pique your interest, please contact Corey at firstname.lastname@example.org. He will be glad to help.