Amphibians are in decline globally. The Yosemite toad was once prevalent in the high Sierra including Yosemite National Park, where it was first discovered and after which it is named. Since the early 1980s, the amphibian’s population and habitat have plummeted.
In the Sierra Nevada Mountains, where livestock graze among toad habitat, UC scientists erected fences to keep the cattle out of toad breeding and rearing areas and studied the effects on Yosemite toad populations for five years.
“The Yosemite toad has been proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act,” said Ken Tate, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis and a principal investigator for the study. “One of the potential factors proposed to be driving the species decline is cattle grazing. However, our research does not support this.”
The researchers found that meadow wetness played a greater role in Yosemite toad presence.
"The toads use wetter areas and the cattle use drier meadow areas, which provide better forage,” Tate said.
“Determining the Effects of Cattle Grazing Treatments on Yosemite Toads (Anaxyrus [=Bufo] canorus) in Montane Meadows” was published in the November 2013 issue of PLOS One http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0079263. Tate’s coauthors on the study are Susan K. McIlroy, research scientist with U.S. Geological Survey in Boise, Idaho; Amy J. Lind, research wildlife biologist with the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station; Barbara H. Allen-Diaz, professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley; Leslie M. Roche, postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis; William E. Frost, UC Cooperative Extension advisor; and Rob L. Grasso, fishery and aquatic ecologist with U.S. Forest Service Eldorado National Forest.
This is the latest of three articles examining the relationship between cattle grazing and growth in numbers of Yosemite toads. In April 2012, PLOS One published “Cattle Grazing and Conservation of a Meadow-Dependent Amphibian Species in the Sierra Nevada,” online at http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi/10.1371/journal.pone.0035734. The first article “Cattle Grazing, Mountain Meadows, and Sensitive Species,” written in 2011, is online at http://rangelandwatersheds.ucdavis.edu/main/projects.htm.
In some parts of the country, eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is thought to bring prosperity in the New Year. UC Riverside’s Reuben E. Herrington, a culinary manager/catering chef, has delicious recipes for black-eyed peas to share:
1 lb black-eyed peas
4 qts water
1 qt veg stock
.5c diced yellow onions
.5c diced green pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
1 smoked turkey leg or thigh
1/3 tsp kosher salt
1/3 tsp cracked black pepper
- Soak peas overnight in cold water
- In a large pot sauté onions, peppers, garlic, until translucent
- Drain and add peas to the pot , then add the stock and water and bring to a boil
- Once boiling turn down to a simmer and add the smoked turkey
- Cover and let cook for 3 hours on a medium to low heat
- Once peas are soft add salt and pepper to taste
- Remove smoked turkey and shred the remaining meat from the turkey and add to the peas
- Serve hot with jasmine white rice or cornbread
Traditionally served as a side dish or on New Year’s Day for most southern families, with fried chicken catfish, or smothered pork chops.
Black Eyed-Pea Fritters (Accara) w/ Hot pepper sweet relish
Ingredients for fritters:
1 cup black-eyed peas, soaked overnight, the rinsed and drained
1/2 medium onion, diced
1/2 cup raw peanuts
1 tsp thyme, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp water
Salt to taste
1 bell pepper, finely chopped
1 tbsp cornmeal
Oil for frying
- In a food processor, combine the beans, onion, peanuts, thyme, cayenne, vinegar, water and salt and puree until you have a smooth mixture.
- Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for an hour.
- Remove the batter and add the chopped bell pepper and cornmeal and beat with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes.
- In a saucepan, heat the oil to about 350 degrees. Spoon the batter into the oil, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Fry, stirring around, until the fritters are golden-brown, about 2 minutes.
- Transfer the fritters to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. If you’re not eating them immediately, keep them warm in an oven warmed to 200 degrees.
- Canned black-eyed peas can be used to save time.
Ingredients for hot pepper sauce:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne
Salt to taste
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 habanero chili, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup tomato sauce
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp freshly ground white pepper
- In a saucepan, over low heat, warm the oil. Add the onion, cumin, cayenne, and 1/2 tsp salt and saute until the onions start to caramelize, about 8 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic and chili and saute another two minutes (Make sure you have your exhaust on because this can cause some serious coughing). Add the tomato paste, tomato sauce, vinegar and water. Mix well and simmer until it starts to thicken, about 5-7 minutes.
- Transfer ingredients to a blender, add pepper if using, and puree to a smooth paste. Add more salt if desired.
Black Eyed-Pea Salad
1 lb black-eyed peas
4 qts water
1 c diced tomatoes
1 c diced red and green peppers
1 c diced red onions
1 c chopped parsley
.5 c white corn
.5 c champagne vinegar
.5 c olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp cracked black pepper
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
1/3 tsp sugar
- Let peas sock in cold water over night
- The next day cook peas until tender about 1.5 hours
- Drain and let cool
- In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and toss well coating the peas thoroughly.
- Season with salt and pepper and taste to adjust if needed.
- Let sit in the refrigerator until service.
- This will go well with any type of Southern Picnic or BBQ
- Canned black-eyed peas can be used as well to save time.
Do you know that the Sacramento Valley produces about 25 percent of the world’s hybrid planting sunflower seeds? We grow some 47,000 acres of this crop, valued at about $70 million (2012 County Crop Reports).
Even better news is that the hybrid sunflower seed production industry is growing, sparked by the demand for our high quality seed and the increased interest in sunflower oil worldwide. In 2007, for example, the value of California’s sunflower seed crop totaled $22 million on 27,000 acres. Fast forward to today and we see a 70 percent increase in acreage and more than a three-fold increase in value. Additionally, the industry reports millions of dollars in seed sales to markets around the world including the Midwestern states as well as the four largest producers of sunflower oil: Ukraine, Russia, European Union, and Argentina.
The sunflower (Helianthus annuus) is native to North America; the Native American Indians prized it as an important, high-energy food source. Indeed, sunflower oil is a healthy choice; it is light in taste, supplies more vitamin E than any other vegetable oil, and delivers low levels of saturated fat. Sunflower oil is also stable at high cooking temperatures, rendering it favorable to the food processing industry.
Production of hybrid sunflower seeds involves planting male and female (male sterile) lines in the same fields, usually alternating with six rows of females and two rows of males. Males generally possess multiple flowers on a stock, compared to the single composite female flower. Honey bees, usually two colonies per acre, move the pollen from the male to female lines. Native solitary bees (especially sunflower bees) are also important in sunflower seed production, not only because of their pollination but because their presence increases honey bee activity, causing greater dispersement between male and female lines.
After pollination, when the seeds are set, growers remove the male rows to prevent contamination with female rows. After the sunflower stocks naturally dry down, the hybrid planting seed is harvested with yields averaging 1,400 pounds per acre and 40-45 percent percent oil content, depending on the variety.
Compared to open pollinated varieties, hybrid planting seed from controlled crosses of male and female lines result in higher yields and oil content. The plants also display better disease resistance, a high degree of self-compatibility (reducing the need for bee cross-pollination), and more uniformity in height and moisture content at maturity, which facilitates harvest.
It’s crucial to maintain field isolation between different hybrid sunflower varieties so that the seed produced remains pure to the desired cross. As a result, growers plant different sunflower seed varieties at least 1-1/4 miles apart or they separate fields in time so that they bloom at different times in the season, thus preventing pollen drift. volunteer sunflowers from the previous year, wild sunflowers, and sunflower varieties blooming in backyard gardens pose risks to hybrid sunflower seed production. Roguing prior to bloom is important when nearby production fields are blooming.
Do you know that sunflower seed production has few pest or disease problems? Sunflower head moth, a native caterpillar pest, can attack the seed heads as well as occasional flocks of birds (starlings, blackbirds, and finches) triggering yield and quality losses.
As the result of industry and research efforts, along with our near perfect weather for seed production with hot, dry summers and cool nights, the Sacramento Valley is known throughout the world as a premier location for sunflower breeding, variety development, and seed production.
In the summertime, the brilliant golden colors turn fields in the Sacramento Valley into Vincent Van Gogh-like paintings. Sunflowers are also fun to watch because in the bud stage they track the movement of the sun across the horizon. Once the flower opens it faces east toward the morning sun, which may help prevent the sun-scalding of seeds.
So, whether you like to cook with sunflower oil, snack on sunflower seeds, use them as a salad garnish, or watch your favorite baseball players crack them between innings, sunflowers pack a major economic agricultural wallop that begins right here in the Sacramento Valley. Who knew? Now you do.
When I was in elementary school, an upcoming field trip meant we were selling candy bars. Around the holidays, it was not uncommon to have your pick from five dozen cupcakes at the school party. Now that I am in nutrition education, my eyes grow wide when I think back to all of the high-sugar, high-fat foods we brought into the classroom.
With that in mind, I take a lot of pride in the fact that the UC Calfresh Nutrition Education Program in Fresno County is creating healthier school environments.
A healthy school environment includes:
- Nutrition education for students and their parents
- Physical activity
- Healthy lunches
- School wellness policies that support healthy fundraisers and celebrations
- An environment that promotes the benefits of healthy choices
The list can go on and on!
In addition to supporting all of the above, UC CalFresh has been working with school administrators, teachers and food service staff to "brand" the cafeteria and classrooms as healthy spaces. This is accomplished through distributing nutrition corners.
Nutrition corners are essentially the materials to create nutrition bulletin boards in school cafeterias. They are updated regularly with nutrition and physical activity information for students, teachers and parents. Information on seasonal produce, recipes, student work and MyPlate decorate the corners.
Nutrition corners are also posted in classrooms, school libraries, teacher lounges and common areas.
Here are a few of the most recently added corners:
Did I mention students love reading nutrition corners?
A healthy environment that supports nutrition and physical activity is key to the health of the families in the Central Valley. For more information on the way we are creating healthier school environments, visit the UC CalFresh Fresno County blog.
Working with campus experts (such as faculty and staff in the Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology) and local environmental and conservation organizations, the volunteer students are improving the habitats for local wildlife and engaging the public in hands-on activities.
This is an extraordinary program that gives the students real-world environmental management skills, along with leadership opportunities and communications experience. Professor John Eadie, Department of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology at UC Davis, said of the Wild Campus program, “Hands-on activity is a huge part of the educational experience.”
A past project — Build a Wild Home Day — involved working with the UC Davis Arboretum on a successful public outreach program to build bird and bat boxes for installation on campus. (Great photos of this program are on the group’s Facebook page.)
The Wild Campus organization has a large cadre of eager and dedicated students who are improvising and making the most of limited resources. However, they are in need of donated field equipment (used equipment is fine) and financial contributions.
Visit the Wild Campus website and Facebook page for a feel-good look at what these ambitious students are doing to improve the environment, along with ways you can help them succeed.