The key to life at the ranch is water. It comes in somewhat limited supply and anything we can do to improve water sources improves the habiat not only for livestock, but for wildlife as well.
With 18 ponds over the 2,000 acres, we do have good water supplies, but over the years the ponds have suffered from a lack of maintainance. This year we decided to bring them up to speed. Obtaining permits from the state was a challenge, but we did manage to obtain permits to work on seven ponds that were not on “blue line” streams. Blue line means streams that have some year-round water.
Here’s an example of the work.
With a D6 Catapillar bulldozer, dirt was scrapped from the adjacent hillside to create a source of fill. The large breach in this dam took several hours to fill. After filling it, we laid timbers and block to create a cascade effect in the spillway. We’ll be going back to rock in the remaining dirt portion. We seed the scarp with native grass seeds and cover the area with rice straw or jute matting. Rice straw contains few, if any, seeds from plants that can survive in the hills. Therefore we hope we’ve not introduced any unwanted new species.
We had a biologist on hand throughout the period and his job was to inform the bulldozer driver and other laborers (us) about any possible “take” of endangered species. He did a good job. Species of the most concern were the California tiger salmander and the California red-legged frog. This pond was very dry and there was not sign of any of the aforementioned critters.
As cousin Wes and I drove to pick up some blocks to use in the spillway, we came across this bobcat and I snapped a photo as it looked back at us.