Senator Monique Limón introduced legislation to enhance wildfire mitigation efforts by expanding statewide prescribed grazing efforts. Over the last decade, California has been subjected to the most dangerous, destructive, and environmentally hazardous wildfires in the history of the state.
Prescribed grazing is a versatile and ecologically-based wildfire mitigation strategy with scientifically proven benefits to our environment, soil, and greenhouse gas goals. Prescribed grazing complements other vegetation management practices through the reduction of fuel loads and implementation in areas where controlled burns are considered too risky or not appropriate for the ecosystem. SB 675 will better integrate prescribed grazing into some of the state’s existing wildfire resilience programs and strategies by supporting prescribed grazing outreach, education, infrastructure, and local, regional, and state wildfire resilience planning. The bill also increases consultation between state agencies implementing wildfire resilience programs and rangeland ecology, fire, and prescribed grazing experts.
“As climate change continues to bring harsher weather to our doorstep, we must keep all options on the table to mitigate the spread of wildfire, including natural mitigation efforts like prescribed grazing,” said Senator Limón. “Ecological grazing has been shown to reduce fire fuels, create fire barriers, and have positive impacts on our environment. After the unprecedented weather episodes we have seen since the beginning of the year, firefighters and emergency personnel deserve every tool necessary to help them protect our communities.”
SB 675 is sponsored by the California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN) and was developed in close collaboration with the Community Environmental Council, Fibershed, and local fire professionals, prescribed grazing practitioners, and rangeland ecologists across the state.
“Prescribed Grazing is emerging as a key tool addressing California’s fuel load problem and this bill will usher in a new era of landscape-scale fuels management all while delivering ecosystem services,” said Molly Taylor, the Community Environmental Council Climate-smart Agriculture Program Manager. “Prescribed grazing is a scalable and environmentally sound response to California’s wildfire problem.”
“Catastrophic wildfires have become the second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in recent years, fueling a vicious cycle that has already taken a tremendous toll on farmers and farmworkers,” said Brian Shobe, Deputy Policy Director with the California Climate and Agriculture Network. “Prescribed grazing is a safe, climate-friendly alternative to other vegetation management tools, such as chemical herbicides and fossil-fuel powered equipment, and should be integrated in the state’s wildfire risk reduction programs and strategies.”
Data shows that most wildfire ignitions start in grasses and spread to taller vegetation and tree canopies, making the reduction of fine fuels in fire prone grasslands a key component to slowing the spread of wildfire. Most recently, prescribed grazing was recognized by Santa Barbara County Fire for effectively stopping the Cave fire from burning onto the San Marcos Foothill Preserve and thereby saving the North La Cumbre neighborhood. Additionally, Channel Islands Restoration staff have noticed an increase in ground nesting bird habitat following the implementation of prescribed grazing.