Karen Sweet, Livermore

Although Earth Day is celebrated every year in April, Every Day is Earth Day on My Ranch.

Ranching is a cattle and land-stewarding enterprise. I witness daily the many positive effects cattle have on the environment.

My family and I take pride in raising cattle that provide so many benefits for us all, not just nutritious beef for human growth and health. The ranch is a working rangeland of terrestrial and avian habitat, open space, food production, and the Sweet Family home. Eating grass year-round, the cattle help prevent the growth of invasive plant species and maintain valuable plant diversity – including wildflowers (in most years).

The U S Fish and Wildlife service determined that grazing is necessary to maintain the habitat of special status amphibian species in our area and the San Joaquin Kit Fox. The grazed grassland provides excellent foraging by the daily-seen golden eagle, here in the midst of the largest population in the world. The cows spend the summer on pasture next to urban housing, where they eat the grass and invasive weeds that could become wildfire fuel if unmanaged.

Did you know that approximately 85% of rangeland in the United States is unsuitable to grow crops? Fortunately, cattle can convert it into productive land that more than doubles useable land to produce nutritious food, while providing synergistic ecosystem services like fire fuel and invasive weed control and habitat management.

Let us all celebrate Earth Day – every day.