Natural Resources Management
Endangered Plants and Animals
There are many species of federally listed plants and animals known to occur on lands managed by the Central Coast Field Office. Federal listing of these species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under authority of the Endangered Species Act affords them special protection.
Examples are the serpentine-endemic San Benito evening primrose or the San Joaquin Kit Fox which prefers the valley and foothill habitat found throughout Panoche and San Joaquin Valleys.
Another example are birds like the pelagic Cormorant or Black Oystercatcher - birds monitored as part of the Seabird Protection Network in the California Coastal National Monument.
BLM wildlife biologists and botanists annually monitor known occurrences of rare plants and animals. They also conduct inventories for new animal or plant occurrences based upon habitat models which are augmented each year.
Be sure to visit the BLM California web page list of Special Status Plants in the Central Coast Field Office area.
San Benito evening-primrose population
Not including insects, lands managed by the Central Coast Field Office provide habitat for over 300 species of wildife. Habitat management is in cooperation with the California Department of Fish and Game and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to promote diversity and provide maximum protection to all species.
Wildlife game management is promoted through the installation of guzzlers for upland game birds in the Panoche Hills and Tumey Hills. The BLM also promotes big game habitat projects for the benefot of species like deer and tule elk.
Riparian and wetland ecosystem health is currently a focus of the program, as several of our sensitive species utilize riparian systems for all or part of their lifecycle. Some of theses animals include the southwestern pond turtle, the two-striped garter snake, and the red-legged frog.
Scorpion on the ground
Lands managed by the Central Coast Field Office are characterized by three or four main vegetation associations: oak woodland, chaparral, valley grassland, and conifer forest.
Valley grassland and shrub communities are located mainly in the Panoche Hills, Tumey Hills and the Griswold Hills, supporting annual grasses like oat mixed with many herbs such as filaree and fiddleneck. Common shrub species include saltbush, mormon tea, golden bush, buckwheat, coastal sage, and juniper.
Chaparral communities are characterized by two main subtypes: chamise chaparral and mixed chaparral. Chamise chaparral is overwhelmingly dominated by chamise. Mixed chaparral contains some combination of chamise, foothill pine, manzanita, buckbrush, red berry, silk tassel, mountain mahogany, California buckeye, interior live oak and scrub oak. You can find either of these communities in many places throughout the Central Coast Field Office area. A third, much more rare chaparral subtype is the maritime chaparral. Outstanding examples of this type are reserved on the Fort Ord National Monument near the Monterey Peninsula.
The oak woodland community commonly consists of open park-like stands of blue oak with an annual grass and herb understory. On the Fort Ord National Monument, oak woodlands are dominated by coast live oak which are dwarfed and scuplted by prevailing coastal winds.
Primary locations to find conifer forests include the San Benito Mountain Research Natural Area and the high ridges on public land near Laguna Mountain in San Benito County.
The botany program focuses primarily on the enhancement of species populations and habitats discussed above. Another important element of the program is the management and enhancement of native plant communities in conjunction with the wildlife program.
There is also an emphasis on the eradication of exotic plant species - such as tamarisk in the San Joaquin Valley and pampas grass on the Central Coast. Noxious weed eradication programs utilize a combination of mechanical removal, chemical spraying, prescribed fire, and/or grazing. Visit the BLM California Noxious and Invasive Weeds web page to learn more about exotic species control.
Wildflowers blooming in the San Joaquin Valley
The Central Coast Field Office administers approximately 71 active commercial grazing leases for both sheep and cattle. Primary use season lasts between January - April. Forage generally consists of annual grasses and forbs which grow during these wetter months, and the range is managed to ensure enough residual mulch remains after each grazing season.
The BLM monitors rangeland annually, measuring the health of the rangelands by watershed function, integrity of nutrient cycles and energy flow, and presence of functioning recovery mechanisms. These criteria take into consideration native plant and animal communities, season of use, riparian areas, rest and recovery phases, fuel loading, sensitive resources, and measurable condition parameters such as residual mulch and water quality.
Please visit the BLM California Grazing web page or Central Coast Field Office Grazing / Range Management web page to learn more about the Range Management program and review the Central California Standards for Rangeland Health and Guidelines for Livestock Grazing and Management.
Cattle grazing in Fresno County
One project of interest is the Panoche/Silver Creek Watershed Coordinated Resource Management Plan and Enhancement Project. The BLM is one of many partners in this project along with local ranchers, farmers, and city governments. Concerns have arisen in the past over the transport of selenium into the waterways of the San Joaquin Valley. Selenium is naturally abundant in the soils.
View of Panoche Hills in the spring