Conservation Quarterly

Volume 13 Issue 1 Spring 2010

Hedgerows: Multi-tasking for Farm and Wildlife Benefits
In 2009, California led the nation in establishing hedgerow plantings. The Woodland NRCS field office, Yolo RCD and our partners worked with local landowners to install over 30,000 feet of new hedgerows last year. That is 44% of the State totals, making Yolo County the leader in the State! Local pioneer ny story about hedgerows in Yolo County, usually starts with John Anderson. Over the past 30 years, he has worked tirelessly to investigate, implement and educate land owners and managers about the benefits of hedgerows and native plants. John does not have to go far to observe those benefits, as he’s installed over five miles of hedgerows on his 400 acre farm north of Winters. His native plantings along irrigation canals stabilize banks and prevent erosion. The nearby trees and shrubs shade the water for improved fish habitat. The roadside plantings filter dust, reduce noise, and beautify the rural landscape. Anderson has recently been featured on the cover of California Farmer, where he is referred to appropriately as “California’s hedgerow pioneer.”


John also has a Yolo RCD connection and provided valuable leadership as a Board Director. In 1996, he led the effort to secure our first hedgerow grant. The “Yolo County Hedgerow Project” brought together farmers, county extension and pest control advisors, city planners, university researchers, and RCD staff to plan and install four “insectary” hedgerows along large row crop farms, and one demonstration hedgerow along an urban/rural border on the edge of Davis. Some farmers had indicated an interest in using native plantings to serve as refuges for beneficial insects that could prey upon common crop pests, but they had little information on costs and installation. The Hedgerow Project carefully tabulated all costs and produced the first well-documented estimates for establishing a 1,500 foot hedgerow. NRCS cost-sharing programs can typically off-set 50 to 75% of these costs.

John Anderson leads a workshop on the habitat benefits provided by native hedgerow plantings.

Beneficial insects vs. pests The Hedgerow Project and subsequent hedgerow installations demonstrate that after three years, plantings are generally wellestablished, require little, if any, irrigation and maintenance, and compete well with common weeds. They can be relied upon to perform a variety of beneficial services such as soil and nutrient retention, and can reduce air, water, and noise pollution. They also provide windbreaks for crops and produce a succession of blooms that create foraging habitat for beneficial insects. Despite these benefits, farmers expressed concerns about whether crop pests might also increase in abundance, due to the increase in high quality habitat that hedgerows provide.
Story continues on page 5



In This Issue
• • • • Hedgerows: Multi-tasking for Farm and Wildlife Benefits Executive Director’s and Board Chairman’s Messages Conservation at Work Throughout the County Events and Workshops Also included: Annual Dinner Registration! See page 3

Winter 2010
In November 2009, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) honored the Yolo RCD at the statewide CARCD conference as exemplifying success in establishing new habitat on private lands. Specifically, the Yolo RCD was recognized for its role in establishing hedgerows. Although occupying a relatively small footprint of the landscape, hedgerows provide important ecological functions for conservation and landowner operations. And though Yolo County occupies only a small area of the state, our landowners installed 44% of the hedgerows in the entire State of California. In Yolo, hedgerows often consist of a complex variety of native plants (trees, shrubs, forbs, grasses), and are increasingly a common feature along fields. In this issue, we outline some of the benefits of hedgerows and recognize the efforts of John Anderson whose enthusiasm and knowledge has served an important role in the development of hedgerows in Yolo County. In keeping with the hedgerow theme, Mace Vaughan (Xerces Society) will make a presentation on the response of insects to restoration at our annual dinner on April 14th 2010. Mace is a lively presenter and will share a unique perspective on insects. We look forward to seeing you there!

MISSION The Yolo County Resource Conservation District (Yolo RCD) commits to protect, improve, and sustain the natural resources of Yolo County. FUNCTION Resource Conservations Districts were first created as a result of the “Dust Bowl” crisis. Originally focusing on soil and water issues, the mission has broadened to include fish and wildlife habitat restoration, farmland preservation, and control of invasive plant and animal species. The Yolo RCD provides technical guidance, education, and on-site expertise for private landowners and growers, cities, schools, agencies, businesses, and research institutions. CONSERVATION QUARTERLY The Conservation Quarterly is a publication of the Yolo County Resource Conservation District, a governmental subdivision of the State of California organized under Public Resources Code Division 9. BOARD OF DIRECTORS Blair Voelz (Chairman), Garth Williams (Vice-Chairman) David Gilmer, Ali Pahlavanian, Bob Milbrodt, John Reyes, Gio Ferrendelli ASSOCIATE DIRECTORS Jim Mayer, Rudy Lucero, Rachael Long, Greg Giguiere YOLO RCD STAFF Dan Efseaff, Executive Director Jeanette Wrysinski, Senior Program Manager Sue McCloud, Financial Manager Sheila Pratt, Administrative Assistant John Reynolds, Revegetation Specialist Tanya Meyer, Vegetation Management Specialist Diane Crumley, Education Coordinator Heather Nichols-Crowell, Watershed Coordinator Chris Robbins, Watershed Coordinator Our projects reflect a cooperative effort with out partner agency, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). NRCS STAFF Phil Hogan, District Conservationist Wendy Rash, Soil Conservationist Ha Truong, Agricultural Engineer Nick Gallagher, Rangeland Management Specialist CONTACT US Yolo County Resource Conservation District 221 West Court Street, Suite 1 Woodland, CA 95695 Phone (530) 662-2037 ext.5 Fax (530) 662-4876
Cover photo of almond blossoms by Phil Hogan.

Daniel Efseaff Executive Director
For most of us, 2009 was a challenging year with the economic downturn and the extended drought affecting local growers. Many RCDs in the state closed their doors or cut staff to survive. Others had to rethink the way they do business and create new income sources. Though these times have been challenging, it is good to celebrate our successes as well. In addition, to the award Dan mentioned, the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts (CARCD) also recognized Yolo RCD staff member, Jeanette Wrysinski, as the Employee of the Year. We also established new working partnerships, such as with Yolo County Department of Parks and Resources, and had a record number of restoration projects that were planted in the fall. To help celebrate our conservation successes, and share your own, I want to invite you to our Annual Dinner on Wednesday, April 14th, 2010 at the St. Anthony’s Parish Hall in Winters. The event will provide support for the Yolo RCD and allow us to sponsor a high school student to attend summer Range Camp. This year we are actively seeking sponsors. Sponsors that donate $250 or more will receive 2 tickets to the event, acknowledgement at the event, and an advertisement in our newsletter, Conservation Quarterly, which is mailed out to over 1500 people. We anticipate a full house, so please contact the RCD early if you would like to purchase a ticket. I know that finances may be challenging for you, but it would be great if you could attend and share your conservation successes with us, and we look forward to seeing you there!

Blair Voelz Board Chairman


Conservation Quarterly

Fall 2009

Yolo County Resource Conservation District

Please join us for the

April 14, 2010 5:00 ‐ 9:00 p.m.  St. Anthony’s Parish Hall, 511 Main St., Winters  

“Trends in Conservation: Insects & Ecologically-Focused Restoration”
Mace Vaughan, Director
Agricultural Pollinator Conservation Program Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation

5:00 Wine-Tasting, Live Music, & Silent Auction
Local wines & music by the Putah Creek Muckrakers

7:15 7:45 8:00


Local produce & grass-fed beef RCD Cooperator of the Year Special Service Award

Dinner & Close of Auction

Mace Vaughan, Xerces Society _________________________ Proceeds from this event will benefit the Yolo County RCD, and will help to sponsor a local student for CA Range and Natural Resources Camp. This week-long camp provides hands-on experience with cattle, wildlife, stream and vegetation management.
Landscape painting of Winters orchard by Andrew Dorn.

Special Presentation by

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation has been involved with wildlife habitat conservation for almost 40 years, and has seen tremendous growth in the past decade. This growth has coincided with emerging trends in conservation that increasingly target biodiversity and ecosystem services. Plant pollination by insects is one of the most widespread and important ecosystem services, and is essential in both natural and agricultural landscapes. In this talk, Mace Vaughan will discuss the challenges of invertebrate conservation, strategies for success, and the evolution of conservation on America’s working lands—from the Dust Bowl to today—and how it all comes together around preserving functioning habitat that is full of beneficial insects. Mace is co-author of the Pollinator Conservation Handbook and lead author of Farming for Bees: Guidelines for Providing Native Bee Habitat on Farms. He has served as a lecturer on honey bee biology and beekeeping at Cornell University, from which he holds Masters Degrees in Entomology and Teaching.

For more information, please call Sheila Pratt at 530-662-2037, ext. 117

$30 per person. Please detach and send by 04/01/10 Name(s) _________________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________________________ RCD Annual Dinner Registration

Affiliation ________________________________________________Phone____________________________________ Please register ___ person(s) for. # ___of tri-tip dinners: # ____of vegetarian dinners: @ $30/each = amt enclosed $________  I have a tax deductible auction item to donate (please describe): ___________________________________________  I have a tax deductible cash donation: $________________________________________________________________

Please detach/return this form with payment to: Yolo Co. RCD—Ann. Dinner Registration, 221 W. Court St. #1, Woodland, CA 95695


Conservation Quarterly

Winter 2010


Conservation at Work Throughout the County

all is always a busy time of year for conservation work, but this fall was exceptional for the Yolo RCD. We installed ten different projects in the county, from very small to very large. The majority of our work was in the Cache Creek Watershed. We have recently begun working with the Yolo County Department of Parks and Resources on projects such as Capay Open Space Park, located outside of Capay. The area was planted to natives a few years ago, for people to enjoy habitat and wildlife viewing along Cache Creek. We added 15 acres of native grasses to the native plantings, and students from the SLEWS Program added more plants and fixed up the drip irrigation system. We also worked with a private landowner whose orchard has been falling into the creek. A native hedgerow was installed by the county and we will work with the county to develop a management plan that includes native plants to help stabilize the bank. Correll-Rodgers was once a gravel mining site, but this 68 acre site has been deeded to the county for habitat restoration and flood water retention. Students from the SLEWS Program planted riparian plants both in 2008 and 2009, and we seeded native grasses this fall for total of two acres of restoration, with more to follow. We worked with the Yocha Dehe Wintun Tribe on two projects: seeding a small native grass swale for bird habitat at the golf course, and installing an almost half mile long hedgerow, which includes native grasses, for beneficial birds and insects. Students from the Yocha Dehe Academy came out to help plant and learn about the importance of hedgerows and conservation projects on the farm. Further up the Capay Valley, we are completing a native grass planting along a grassy swale, which was created to move flood waters from a small tributary through several private properties, while at the same time providing habitat. In Rumsey, with the help of the hardworking SLEWS students from Esparto High School, we planted 200 native

Yolo RCD staff seeding seven acres of native grass at a new solar array site.

plants along Cache Creek. We also seeded 10 acres of native grasses, which was quite an accomplishment, considering that a year ago this site was a rough field of tamarisk and milk thistle. Yolo RCD staff also worked on several projects off Cache Creek. Grasslands Regional Park, south of Davis, is being invaded by perennial pepperweed, an aggressive plant that pushes out other beneficial vegetation. We’ve been treating it throughout the park and around the vernal pools, where it is threatening several endangered plants and animals. Reclamation District 108, in northeast Yolo County, has just installed a solar array to help power their water pumping facility. We planted seven acres of native grasses at this site for visual beauty as well as to resist weeds and create habitat. Our biggest project was a multi-partner habitat creation project set amid rice and other agricultural fields northeast of Winters. This project created over 33 acres of wetland and upland habitat around ponds and canals, which will improve water delivery and drainage around the fields.


Over 3400 trees and shrubs were planted as part of this 33 acre habitat restoration project northeast of Winters.

Conservation Quarterly
Story continued from front page...

Winter 2010

To address these concerns, UC Cooperative Extension Advisor Rachael Long monitored insect populations in the farm hedgerows from the Hedgerow Project twice a month for two years. Nearby weedy areas were also sampled for comparison. Thousands of beneficial and pest insects were identified and counted. The study determined that in native plant hedgerows and native grass areas, beneficial insects significantly out-numbered pests by an average of 3-to-1. The absence of immature pest species indicated that pests were not reproducing in the hedgerow habitat. In contrast, the reverse was true in weedy areas, with crop pests consistently out-numbering beneficial insects. From this and additional studies, Rachel Long and colleagues conclude that perennial hedgerow plantings do not contribute to the build-up of crop pests. Farms with nearby natural habitat support larger populations of natural pest predators. These predators may translate to reduced crop damage and a decreased need for pesticide application. How about pollinators? Approximately 60-90% of the world’s flowering plants depend on pollination, an essential ecological service. Native bees are important pollinators, and contribute substantially to the pollination of many important crops in Yolo County such as watermelon, sunflowers, tomatoes, almonds, and alfalfa seed. In addition, native bees pollinate valuable native plant species. Many researchers and farmers have expressed mounting concern over recent world-wide population declines of both managed (European honey bees) and wild bee populations. Causes have been difficult to pinpoint, yet loss of habitat, intensive agriculture practices, pesticide use, disease, parasites, and invasive species are all potential contributors.
Dan Efseaff (Yolo RCD), John Anderson, and Phil Hogan (NRCS) examine new growth in a mature hedgerow that borders a canal on John’s farm near Winters. Photo courtesy of NRCS California.

need to have their foraging and nesting habitat within a range of about 600 meters. Kremen’s work with watermelon crops has shown improved pollination in fields near landscapes with larger proportions of habitat. Their team concluded that native bees could provide all necessary pollination, if between 10 to 30% of the land within ¾ of a mile of agricultural fields was in natural habitat. This could be accomplished if areas such as field borders, equipment areas, canal sides, and roadsides were planted with native landscaping and hedgerows. Over 50 species of native bees visit our crops of watermelon, sunflowers and tomatoes. Because native bees perform pollination differently than the European honey bee, their presence has been shown to increase yields in fields of sunflowers, and to increase the size and yields of tomato plants, a crop that is generally thought to be self-pollinating.

Hedgerow Highlights
• • • Hedgerows have been part of farm landscapes for hundreds of years. Native trees, shrubs and grasses can be self-sustaining after 3 years. Beneficial insects out-number crop pests 3-to-1 in hedgerows of native plantings. Hedgerows provide foraging habitat for many native bees. Native bees provide pollination services to many important local crops including tomatoes, sunflowers, alfalfa seed, almonds, and watermelon. Native bees nest and forage within 1/3 of a mile from their pollen source.

• •

National expert, Claire Kremen and colleagues, using research conducted largely in Yolo County, have documented both the economic and ecological benefits of providing foraging and nesting habitat for native bees. Unlike the highly social, colony-dwelling European honey bees, north American native bees are mostly solitary, and require nesting sites in the ground and in old trees and plants. Most solitary native bees have shorter flight ranges than honey bees, and

Currently, Claire Kremen is continuing her research in collaboration with the Xerces Society. Mace Vaughan, Director of the Xerces Society’s Agricultural Pollinator Conservation Program will be our keynote speaker at the upcoming Yolo RCD Annual Dinner (April 14th). Mace will continue the discussion of this work and address the challenges and strategies in preserving functional habitat for insects that benefit both agricultural and natural landscapes.

Conservation Quarterly

Winter 2010
April 21, 8:30am-12:30pm, Riparian Weed Control Methods Cache Creek Nature Preserve, Woodland Discuss and observe the results of integrated riparian weed management methods with emphasis on using herbicides safely. One hour of Laws and Regs and two hours of other DPR credits have been applied for. Held in cooperation with the Cache Creek Conservancy. April 29, 9am-12pm, Rangeland Restoration Tour Bobcat Ranch, Winters Discuss the challenges and successes of establishing native perennial grasses, trees, shrubs and forbs on a working cattle ranch. Workshop participants will view rangeland restoration project sites on Bobcat Ranch. Organized by the Audubon California Landowner Stewardship Program. May 1, 9am-3pm, Cache Creek Discovery Day Cowboy Camp, Cache Creek Natural Area, Hwy. 16 A fun-filled day for all ages, with special emphasis on youth outdoor-learning, featuring a broad range of activities relevant to our local watershed as part of Watershed Awareness Month. Activities include wildlife viewing, guided hikes, educational displays, Native American basketry, live music and BBQ lunch. Organized by Cache Creek Watershed Forum.

Upcoming Events and Workshops
March 23, 9am-4pm, Farm Water Toolbox Winters Community Center, Winters A regional forum for the Southern Sacramento Valley farm community featuring talks on State water policy; regional issues regarding the Delta, groundwater, and regulations; soil and crop management for water efficiency; and funding and support for water management. Organized by EcoFarm. Register by phone at (831) 763-2111 or online at March 31, 5-7pm, Water Conservation for Home and Garden Woodland Community and Senior Center, Woodland The Yolo RCD and the City of Woodland are hosting a free workshop to assist residents in making “water-wise” choices around their homes, including how to save water in day-to-day tasks and through landscaping with native and drought tolerant plantings. April 14, 5-9pm, Yolo RCD Annual Dinner St. Anthony’s Parish Hall, Winters An evening of good food and good company. Join us as we celebrate another year of conservation work in Yolo County. Ticket purchase includes local wine-tasting, silent auction, live music by the Putah Creek Muckrakers, and dinner prepared with local foods. Special presentation by Xerces Society’s Mace Vaughan. Proceeds from this event will benefit the Yolo RCD, and will help to sponsor a local student for CA Range and Natural Resources Camp. See registration flyer on page 3.

For more information on these workshops & events, contact Sheila Pratt at (530)662-2037 ext. 117.

If you would like to receive this newsletter electronically instead of by mail, please notify Sheila Pratt at

Yolo County RCD/NRCS Field Office 221 W. Court Street, Suite 1 Woodland, CA 95695

Nonprofit U.S. Postage Paid Woodland, CA 95695 Permit No. 31 Woodland, CA

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