The Open Space Council Blog


Gathering to talk about grazing and conservation

January 28, 2016


In partnership with UC Cooperative Extension, Elkhorn Slough Coastal Training Program, California Rangeland Conservation Coalition, Central Coast Rangeland Coalition, and California Rangeland Trust we held our Rainy Season Gathering today to talk about grazing and conservation. Entitled Grazing and Conservation Part II: Cooperating with Ranchers, this Gathering facilitated a conversation to explore this complex and important topic. We discussed the benefits and challenges of working with ranchers for grazing to benefit conservation on public and/or private conservation lands in the Bay Area.

160 people attended and here is what it looked and sounded like.


Grazing Gathering

Grazing Gathering - inside


We heard from three fantastic speakers:

Our thanks to them for their time, stories, and wisdom.

Also thanks to Clayton Koopman, AKA Cowboy Poet, who brought the house down with these two poems:

Ranching for Newts

Ranchers are struggling, bills they can’t pay,

Vaccines, vet bills, pasture costs and hay.

Fuel cost, insurance and that damn estate tax,

All breakin’ down that old camel’s back.


Calf checks don’t cut it, they can’t get on their feet,

Ranchers grow progressive, lookin’ to make ends meet.

Butterflies, whip snakes, an imaginary fox,

Got today’s ranchers thinking outside the box.


Conservation, mitigation, easements and trusts,

Supplemental funding, ranching for critters is a must.

I’ve grown progressive too; just you take a gander,

Saved my ranch here with a herd of salamanders.


Ponies of a New Breed

The way of the cowboy has faded away in time,

The range consumed by houses leaving no fence to ride.

Boots, chinks, and cowboy hats are attire of the past,

Today’s cowboys are roping in t-shirts and baseball caps.


The caballo is no longer a cowboy’s foremost accessory – they have no need,

They’ve exchanged these primitive critters for ponies of a new breed.

This new cayuse requires neither spurs nor reins to steer,

It’s got a handlebar for aim’n and a shifter for the gears.


These new ponies will run all day and never miss a beat,

Propelled by ethanol in lieu of alfalfa, no need for shoes tacked to their feet.

They won’t buck you off nor flee during your pre-dawn pursuit,

They won’t colic, tie up, become impacted nor obtain a limp to boot.


Now these new ponies have no horn for tak’n dally wraps,

But they’re perfect for them ol’ cowboys who’ve grown sorta fat.

Roy Rogers without Trigger and the Lone Ranger without Silver are things we ain’t never saw,

What would Roy Rogers, Marshall Dillon, or Casey Tibbs do on a horse named Yamaha?

Thank you so much, Clayton. Your words can’t be beat.

Cowboy Poet Clayton Koopman

Cowboy Amelia

We were busy on Twitter with #OSCgrazing throughout the Gathering, and this is what we said:


We weren’t the only ones on Twitter. Here’s what others were tweeting:

Our speakers had a lot to share. Here is Nancy Schaefer’s presentation:

Grazing and Conservation – Nancy Schaefer – January 2016 from OpenSpaceCouncil
Bob Doyle presented this map in lieu of a presentation:
EBRPD Grazed Parklands (35x35) 2014
And here is Justin Field’s presentation:

Grazing and Conservation – Justin Fields – January 2016 from OpenSpaceCouncil


The room was full of experience, knowledge, research, books, events, and links. We’ve corralled some of them here for you:




Articles, Blogs, & Books:


Reports & Publications:


 If you have something you’d like to add to this list, please email Annie Burke at

Our deep thanks to everyone who attended. Let’s keep talking and learning and working together.