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Posts Tagged: Scott Oneto

Beautiful but ecologically harmful shrubs get a foothold in California forests

Deceivingly beautiful French broom is invading California forestland.
A glorious foothill display of yellow flowers and their spicy-sweet fragrance may delight the senses, but they pose a serious problem for California.

Scotch, Spanish and French broom were introduced from Europe in the mid-1800s as lovely, easy-to-grow garden accents and land stabilizers, but they have become aggressive invaders threatening native plants and increasing fire hazards.

“These brooms crowd out our native flora and form large, dense stands of just broom,” said Scott Oneto, UC Cooperative Extension advisor in the Central Sierra. “It’s also displacing the birds and animals that would live in this environment with native plants.”

The characteristics of invasive brooms cause several problems. The plants grow large and upright, developing thick trunks at the base. After its relatively short life span - typically 7 to 8 years, 15 at the most – they die and become tinder-dry woody skeletons that can burn high and hot.

The brooms are also a member of the legume family. Legumes are unique in the plant world. They have evolved a symbiotic relationship with bacteria that live on their roots. The bacteria are able to pull nitrogen from the atmosphere and deposit it into the soil, where it feeds the plant.

“These soils are naturally very low in nitrogen,” Oneto said. “Our native plants thrive in low-nitrogen soils. Large populations of broom are changing the soil chemistry so even after they are removed, the area is no longer ideal for our native vegetation.”

Large stands of broom are also a significant concern for rangeland managers. Cows don’t like the taste; only goats will eat it. When the plant is grazed off or cut back, it readily re-sprouts from the crown. The plant’s spread is bolstered by its intriguing ability to scatter seeds widely. Brooms grow seed pods that are naturally spring loaded. When the seeds are ready for dispersal, they fling from the pod with the force of a tiny explosion.

In collaboration with the non-profit California Invasive Plant Council, which received a grant from the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, Oneto is working to eradicate broom from a particularly sensitive location. Highway 120, for many the “gateway to Yosemite,” has populations of French and Spanish broom.

“We’ve started by mapping the broom along Highway 120 and plan to eliminate the population to prevent it from moving further into the forest and eventually into Yosemite National Park,” Oneto said.

The grant is providing the funding for environmental and regulatory compliance so that control measures can be implemented.

“Once the regulatory compliance is complete, the project will be shovel-ready and we can begin treatment,” Oneto said.

Scott Oneto (left) and Rebecca Miller-Crips stand near landscaping in Sonora's Courthouse Park where invasive French broom was planted as an ornamental.
Despite French and Spanish broom’s invasive nature, the heat-tolerant greenery and pea-like spring floral display still inspire people to plant them in landscapes and even parks. Brooms are occasionally found in retail nurseries along with a cousin, called “sweet broom,” that is touted as a sterile, non-invasive substitute. However, DNA research conducted by scientists in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis found that sweet broom hybridizes with French broom, potentially contributing to the invasive weed problem.

“If broom is growing wild or as an ornamental on your property, we suggest you remove it and replace it with a non-invasive plant,” said Rebecca Miller-Cripps, natural resources program representative with UCCE Central Sierra. For example, forsythia produces yellow flowers and a shrub of about the same size and shape as brooms, but isn’t invasive, she said.

For more about invasive broom, see the video below:

Posted on Friday, June 14, 2013 at 9:01 AM

Multi-county partnerships saving county and University funds

Scott Oneto, the director of the first UC Cooperative Extension multi-county partnership UCCE Central Sierra, told the Amador County Board of Supervisors that the new organizational structure has saved participating counties and University funds while supporting local programs, reported Jim Reece on in Amador County.

Four counties contributed funds to the partnership: Amador County, $134,000; Calaveras County, $148,000; Tuolumne County, $144,000; and El Dorado County, $270,000. The 2011-2012 budget also included $590,000 in grants, $450,000 in federal and state funding and $110,000 in fundraising and indirect county funding, Oneto reported to the Board.

In all, UCCE Central Sierra ended the year with a budget of $3.025 million. The complete 2011-2012 Annual Report is available online (pdf).

Posted on Friday, May 25, 2012 at 8:38 AM
Tags: Scott Oneto (3)

Scientists to minimize impact of High Sierra grazing

University of California, U.S. Forest Service and other agencies will work together to understand the impact of cattle grazing in the High Sierra and look for solutions to water quality problems, according to an article in the Sonora Union Democrat.

UC Davis Cooperative Extension watershed specialist Ken Tate and interim director of the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security at UC Davis Rob Atwill will design and conduct the study. The first samples have already been collected.

In the story, writer Ashley Archibald reported that the scientists are seeking to fix problems, not just document them.

“It’s good to focus on what are the practices that can move us forward so everyone can enjoy the national forest since it has a multiple use mandate and is a resource for the public, and the public is pretty diverse," Atwill was quoted.

Scott Oneto, the director and farm advisor for the UC Cooperative Extension in Calaveras and Tuolumne counties, said the scientists are still looking for input on how to build a comprehensive study.

The California Farm Bureau Federation's weekly publication AgAlert
also weighed in on the new study. The paper said the scientists held a briefing for ranchers in Sonora where they explained their desire to acquire data to demonstrate the relationship between grazing on public lands and water quality requirements.

The article - written by AgAlert editor Kate Campbell - noted that the scientists will take multiple water samples from 48 different sites in the High Sierra over the next several months, with preliminary results available by the end of this year. Sites will include areas used for grazing and recreation.

Posted on Tuesday, August 31, 2010 at 8:13 AM
Tags: grazing (14), High Sierra (2), Ken Tate (10), Rob Atwill (3), Scott Oneto (3)
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