Update on Funding for Community Grazing Cooperatives

Gold Ridge RCD
Resource Conservation Network
3 min readSep 20, 2023

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Photo Credit: Jim Coleman

Background — Landsmart Grazing Grant Phase II

In January of 2022 we applied for the Vegetation Management Grant through the county of Sonoma. The Vegetation Management Grant Program (VMGP) supports community resiliency, improves risk mitigation techniques, encourages multi-benefit, ecologically sound practices that will increase wildfire prevention. The VMGP supports the County of Sonoma’s commitment to reducing the risk of wildfires through prevention and mitigation. Part of this grant is also specifically targeting these projects:

Creation of “calming zone” vegetation treatment buffers and strategic fuel breaks along the wildland urban interface (WUI)

Treatment and maintenance of recently burned areas

Prescribed burning for fuel reduction and forest health enhancement

Ecologically appropriate Understory Thinning of woodlands and forests

Prescribed grazing where feasible

Education and outreach campaigns or materials within the community or focus area regarding wildfire safety, vegetation management, fire prevention, etc.

You can learn more about how grazing programs are beneficial here.

Cooperative Grazing Highlights

LandSmart Grazing for Community Resilience is a targeted grazing 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. The purpose of this program is to support and increase the capacity of community grazing cooperatives within Sonoma County. Cooperative grazing is defined as a collaborative land stewardship model whereby hooved animals are shared among neighbors to steward their land and stay connected to the soil, the plants and each other. The shared responsibility of livestock amongst neighbors not only reduces field loads but it also builds relationships, trust, and connections to the land. Materials purchased need to clearly increase capacity to graze and support your ability to steward the land. Funds may not be used to purchase livestock. Community members that chose to apply for this program were awarded $3,500 that can fund a range of materials that support cooperative grazing efforts. This was run as a reimbursement program, in which documentation of purchased materials are reimbursed for the cost.

Sarah Keiser of Wild Oat Hollow has spearheaded the Community Grazing Cooperative Initiative. Sarah commented on the project saying -

“The Community Grazing Cooperative Grant distributed by Gold Ridge and Sonoma RCD was an amazing funding opportunity for communities coming together to tend their land and neighborhood back to a healthy fire ecosystem. This valuable financial support gave grazing cooperatives the opportunity to extend their grazing to additional community members and provide infrastructure for healthy, safe livestock to continue to support their vegetation management needs. I give a heartfelt thank you to Gold Ridge and Sonoma RCDs as they continue to bring creative and critical support to the communities in Sonoma County”

Currently we have 10 awardees that have qualified to participate in Community Grazing Cooperatives. We were able to allot $31,500 for this program. Some of the materials that have been purchased by our grantees participating in this program are the following:

  • Cattle corral panels
  • Solar electric fence chargers
  • Fencing
  • T-posts
  • Flag stakes
  • Non-climb fence wire
  • Trailer for 200 gal water tank
  • ElectroNet fencing

We have had a lot of positive response from the funding provided to our community members participating in this initiative. When we notified one landowner they were awarded, her response was -

“Thank you just isn’t enough. My heart is so happy and grateful!”

The Resource Conservation Network gathers and shares the stories and ideas from its partners and colleagues. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the RCDs managing this publication.

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