Although no hikes were scheduled at Wantrup Preserve this past summer, the protected area in Pope Valley did get visitors in the form of grazing sheep.

The Land Trust brought in two herds of sheep totaling 900 for another round of grazing on the 200 acre project area, helping mitigate wildfire risk and restore habitat.

The sheep spent two months on the land, decreasing the fine fuels that can quickly spread a wildfire while at the same time providing space for native plant species to grow.

Preliminary results in the study of grazed vs ungrazed plots the Land Trust is conducting continue to indicate that grazing provides some advantage for native species. Results have consistently showed substantially higher native species richness (the number of native species) and abundance (the cover of native species) in grazed than in ungrazed plots. In one example, our 2021 vegetation plot sampling results show a 45% greater abundance of native wildflowers (forbs) in grazed than in ungrazed plots.

These results are only preliminary and will undergo a more rigorous statistical analysis with the help of our friends at Pepperwood Preserve in the coming months to determine their significance based on four years of data collection.