Published in California State University Agricultural Research Initiative, January 1, 2004.
The Morro Bay estuary is arguably the most important wetland system on the south central coast of California. It supports commercial fishing industries, numerous recreation activities, and a variety of natural habitats. The estuary and its watershed, representing a diverse biological and economic resource to the people of California, are impacted by various pollutants, with sediment of particular concern. As part of a 10-year national monitoring program funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through California's Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Board), a paired watershed study on California Polytechnic State University's Escuela Ranch has shown that Best Management Practices (BMPs) aimed at reducing erosion and sedimentation associated with cattle grazing appear to result in improvement of water quality. The same BMPs have resulted in an increase in residual vegetation that is harvested by the cattle during the dry season. The objective of this study was to extend monitoring of hydrology and water quality for an additional year, and to monitor range forage quality (protein and fiber) for three years.