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Vernal Pool Preservation

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With two conservation easements, totalling 5,000 acres, in protection with The Nature Conservancy, the Flying M Ranches is a leader in grasslands conservation.

The grasslands of the Flying M Ranches are unique in that they encompass a portion of the largest and most varied complex of vernal pool-rich grassland in California. The Flying M Ranches has maintained this unique grasslands ecosystem through natural grazing practices for three generations. Currently, efforts are underway to further improve cattle management practices, and enhance the vitality of both grassland and riverine systems across the ranch.


Grazing & Vernal Pools

Cattle are a critical component of the vernal-pool grasslands. Research has found that by grazing down invasive European grasses, cattle enable the native herbaceous flowers to grow and flourish. For more than 30 years, the Flying M Ranches has worked with The Nature Conservancy and other biologists and botanists to assess the condition of the vernal-pool ecosystem.


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Ranching Methodology

Ranching is a challenging business. Fluctuating prices, overseas competition, and increasingly unpredictable weather conditions, require strict adherence to the industry’s best practices. At the same time, we are tasked with preserving a vast and fragile vernal-pool grassland ecosystem. Success requires the adoption of new innovations and technologies in animal husbandry, and collaboration with biologists and botanists to establish guidelines for grazing frequency and intensity.


Riparian Restoration

Bruns Creek meanders through the grasslands of California’s eastern merced county. From the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the creek winds its way southwest to its conflux with Bear Creek. The Creek provides habitat for migratory birds and waterfowl, and serves as a key component of the surrounding ecosystem. FMR is currently exploring methods to protect and improve the condition of Burns Creek and its associated riparian zone.

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