Saving California's Golden Grasslands

Photograph by John Krzesinksi via Flickr

The natural beauty of Northern California's grasslands is a paradoxical thing. There is little that is natural about it.

For many years, this caused no end of consternation. Early explorers, missionaries and ranchers were unsettled by constant fires set by Indians to keep grasslands open, producing seeds and attracting wildlife. In more recent times, environmentalists have battled to get rid of cattle, which brought new grass species to California, pushing aside native plants in almost all of the state's grasslands.

Those emerald green hills of spring and summer golden waves of windswept beauty? Turns out they're an impure product of human history. But in the Bay Area, ranchers and environmentalists are coming "full circle," in the words of rancher Scott Stone, to fully embrace this paradox and work together to ensure that these "working landscapes" continue to work.

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