LandSmart Grazing for Community Resilience
LandSmart Grazing is a pilot program designed to support interested neighbors or community groups to utilize grazing as a way of reducing fuel load and making their communities safer in the face of wildfires. This project also aims to serve previously burned properties in order to remove invasive weeds and reduce fuel load in preparation for future post-fire recovery activities.
Through Phase I funding from Ag + Open Space, Gold Ridge and Sonoma RCDs connected contract grazers to landowners with the help of the UC Cooperative Extension's Match.Graze program in the hopes of facilitating a smooth and effective reduction of fire-fuels. We encouraged landowners and land managers with 4-100 acres of grasslands or woodlands to apply for this subsidized opportunity. The majority of our funds have been prioritized towards areas of high fire risk where there is a close proximity to at-risk, densely populated, or underserved communities. While all funds from this pilot phase have been awarded, the RCDs are seeking additional funding to expand the program.
The program put out a request for applications on August 8th, 2021. The application period closed September 1, 2021. Properties were grazed Fall 2021. Program funds have been fully allocated, and we are currently seeking additional funding to continue the program
How Do I Apply?
1. Land Participants - Applications closed September 1, 2021. We received a high volume of interest and are seeking funds to continue the program into the future. If you would like to be added to a waitlist, submit an application. Please note we can’t guarantee that future funding will be secured.
2. Contract Grazers- Closed September 1, 2021. We received a high volume of interest and are seeking funds to continue the program into the future. If you would like to be added to a waitlist, submit a Statement of Qualifications. Please note we can’t guarantee that future funding will be secured.
Am I Eligible to Participate?
Eligible participants include, but are not limited to, managers of properties:
- - 4-20 acres for single properties, 4-100+ contiguous acres for multiple properties
- - grassland, woodland, shrubland, agricultural lands (orchards, vineyards, etc.)
- - at high risk of wildfire
- - in close proximity to at-risk, disadvantaged or densely populated communities
- - adjacent to key community evacuation routes or key infrastructure
- - in an urban area or between urban and open space land
How Do I Apply?
1. Land Participants - Applications will be accepted August 8th - September 1st
2. Contract Grazers- Statement of Qualifications form will be accepted August 8th - September 1st
Program services include:
For Land Participants
- If approved, get matched with a professional contract grazer and RCD technical assistant
- Establish vegetation management goals
- Prepare and graze the site
- Financial assistance to use contract grazers such as sheep or goats on your property.
- Transportation of livestock to and from site
For Contract Grazers
- Matching with appropriate land participant applicants
- Contract directly with RCD for ease of working with multiple groups and fast payment
- Small grants to acquire infrastructure needs to expand/improve services such as electric fencing, mobile corals, or portable livestock water trailers
RCD pays 50-80% of the grazing costs to provide fuel reductions on selected properties directly to the contract grazer. If you need financial assistance to participate, you can request up to 100% of the grazing services to be paid. Requests for assistance can be made in application.
Is the LandSmart Grazing program the right tool for your property?
Here are some considerations that will be evaluated to help determine each applicant:
Transportation, Access and Water
- Do you have water a grazer could use? It’s okay if not, but better if you do. Options for animal drinking water include on-site hose bib, fire hydrant or previously established livestock watering system and transportation of water to the site from an off-site location.
- Can your site be accessed by a pickup truck with large trailers to bring animals to the site? RCD Staff and the Contract Grazer will evaluate access roads, gates, bridges, turnarounds and other access features to see what works best at the site. In some cases where the site is not easily accessed by a truck and trailer we may be able to walk our animals directly to and from the site from a location in which trucks are accessible.
Size, slope and vegetation type
- The size of your project (number of acres), steepness of slope, time of year, and vegetation type and density (grass, brush, invasive plants) are additional factors used to determine the overall appropriateness for services.
- Predation, proximity to vulnerable or high risk areas (such as schools, homes without bordering fence lines, or busy roadways/highways), active work sites, and homeless encampments all need to be disclosed and discussed prior to grazing projects.
- This is a pilot project. Your participation will help us learn and document lessons about how to make the program work. We want to make connections with grazers so we are able to expand and continue the program into the future.
Smaller residential properties are usually not cost-effective, due to the cost of transporting livestock by truck. If you are a smaller property owner, we suggest that you talk to your neighbors and formulate a plan to manage everyone's fire fuel load through a cooperative model.
- Livestock are only a small part of an overall approach to reducing wildfire hazards. To protect your home, you MUST create your own defensible space and take steps to harden your home!
Gold Ridge RCD
Check www.goldridgercd.org for program updates and call for applications.