Friday, December 12, 2008

Stewardship of the Land and Sheepdog Trials Go Hand In Hand

Last weekend we were fortunate enough to be spectators at the new Hopland SDT at the University of California research station in Hopland, CA. What a wonderful venue and beautiful location for an outstanding sheep dog trial! I was wishing that I could have entered Bid non-compete so that we could have tried out the Open course. The course was set on rolling hills with an almost-500-yard outrun. Fresh sheep were provided by the University for every run over both days. I hope that this trial can become an annual event. We saw some great runs from dogs and handlers from northern and southern California, as well as from Oregon. Kudos to the organizers! Results are here:


http://www.norcalsheepdog.org/results/hoplandresults.pdf


While at the Hopland trial, someone in the know mentioned to me that with our budget cuts on the line here in California due to our state financial crisis, one of the programs that is likely to be eliminated is the Williamson Act. Under this act, landowners can receive property tax assistance if their land is kept in long-term agricultural or open-space use instead of being developed. It will be unfortunate if this program is cut, making way for even more development of ag land. Once that pasture is paved over, it's gone. A little bit of info is available here:


http://www.conservation.ca.gov/dlrp/lca/Pages/Index.aspx


An action alert from the California Farm Bureau about the Williamson Act is available here:


http://capwiz.com/cfbf/state/main/?state=CA


The Hopland research station was so beautiful that it made me hopeful that UC will be able to retain this property and others like it throughout the state for now and into the future. After all, I believe that farmers and ranchers are the most capable stewards of the land because they know it best.



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