News.bytes Extra, issue 574
The Sheep are Baaaack at Ford Ord National Monument
| The wooly weedeaters are back at Fort Ord National Monument.|
| “The sheep have grazed the grasslands of Fort Ord long before the Bureau of Land Management began managing the land, said BLM Interpretive Specialist Tammy Jakl. The sheep spend the winters in Los Banos and arrive at the Fort Ord National Monument in February. They stay until the grass no longer provides them with nutrients,usually around July. |
“Their stay at Fort Ord accomplishes three goals: the sheep get food, they help rid the grasslands of weeds, and they help reduce fuels for fire protection,” she said. While grazing at Fort Ord, the sheep are admired and observed by many visitors. Many of the locals look forward to the day when the sheep arrive to dot the green hillsides with their fluffy white fleece.
Toro Park students pose with sheep and shepherd.
|The interest in the sheep grazing program has brought a new educational element to the monument. In the spring of 2012, the BLM hosted the first annual Sheep Appreciation Day. The main objective was to educate the public in the purpose of the sheep at Fort Ord and to inform them of potential impacts on their visits. Visitors are asked to leash their pets when entering the sheep grazing area. Wool spinning, sheep shearing, guest speakers discussing dog behavior and sheep information, and a sheepdog herding demonstration were just some of the activities enjoyed by the 150 people that attended the special event.|
Tammy Jakl, right, discusses the grazing program with students.
| With the success of Sheep Appreciation Day, a new educational opportunity presented itself. Toro Park School, which borders the monument, expressed an interest in the sheep grazing program. Jakl visited Toro Park School first grade and third grade educating the students about the history of sheep grazing at Fort Ord, why the sheep are at Fort Ord, and why we need to leash our dogs when the sheep are at Fort Ord.|
Many of the students and their families are frequent visitors of the monument and when the sheep are grazing, visitors are asked to leash their pets. After learning about sheep and their behavior, students understand why leashing their dog is so important to the sheep. The following week, the students come out to the monument to see the sheep, talk to the sheep owner, meet the shepherd and watch the herding dogs work.
-- David Christy, Public Affairs Specialist, BLM Central California (April 2013)
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