Mr. Peter Preston rides along Toro Creek Road in the Fort Ord Park Land, Salinas, CA., on Thursday, June 16, 2011. More than 75,000 visitors visit park land each year. On the left, Toro Creek and its riparian zone. The green plants are vital to the stability of this zone. The area between the creek bottom and the land along the bank is an ecosystem that sometimes blocks easy sight of the creek. A combination of deep-rooted trees such as Willow and Oak, and drought tolerant grass and bushes are common for this region of California. They provide organic stabilization of the soil. A functioning riparian zone supports a clean Monterey Bay (eight miles away) by removing sediments and other contaminants; reducing the risk of flooding and associated damage; reducing stream channel and stream bank erosion; increasing available water and stream flow duration by holding water in stream banks and aquifers; supporting a diversity of plant and wildlife species; to name some of the benefits stated in references. This Bureau of Land Management property also allows ranchers to purchase permits allowing their sheep (totaling 1,000 to 2,000) to graze the hills of the 7,200-acre property. The reduction of excess grass reduces fuel for fires. The sheep manure also provides nutrients to help the soil remain healthy. The grass roots reduce erosion on the hillsides. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.
May 1, 2014
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