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Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center is excited to share a new opportunity for long-term oak woodland restoration and research! 

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Throughout California, ranchers and researchers are taking steps to restore previously cleared rangeland to its native state. However, species such as the California Blue Oak (Quercus douglasii) have presented challenges to regeneration and mitigation efforts due to extremely high mortality rates of seedlings. The Sierra Foothill Research and Extension Center (SFREC) in northern CA has recently dedicated 43 acres of previously cleared rangeland to a research and demonstration site for Blue Oak restoration and related research. Since the fall of 2020, Blue Oak acorns and seedlings have been planted annually in over 6,000 individual planting sites. Each site receives one of four different shelters (wire mesh, no-climb fence, Tubex, or cone) for protection against wildlife and increased seedling survival. An on-site acorn collection protocol and successful cold-storage method has also been established. With an average survival rate of over 60%, SFREC is currently nurturing more than 3,500 Blue Oak seedlings.  

As of summer 2024, the Blue Oak project will be available to researchers and extension specialists to utilize for their own programs. SFREC is seeking researchers or extension advisors to further utilize the project site for restoration, monitoring, demonstrations, and establishing best management practices related to watershed health, California oak trees, native perennial grasses and shrubs, decreasing noxious weeds, or multi-species planting. Potential research questions to explore may include utilizing mulch, assessing various levels of irrigation, establishing CA native perennials within planting sites, establishing hedgerows, and much more. We welcome all ideas and especially encourage interdisciplinary and collaborative projects. Please reach out to the SFREC Agriculture Supervisor, Nikolai Schweitzer (nschweitzer@ucanr.edu) or the SFREC Senior Research Associate, Andrea Northup-Warner (alnwarner@ucanr.edu) for more information about the site and planting protocols; or Academic Programs Manager, Dr. Jackie Beck (jacbeck@ucanr.edu) to discuss research opportunities.  

Blue Oak Planting Site facts at a glance: 

  1. Located at UC ANR’s Sierra Foothill REC, adjacent to Englebright Reservoir dam and the Yuba River 
  2. 6,500 individual Blue Oak planting sites 
  3. 4,500 gallon gravity-fed drip irrigation system 
  4. Maintenance equipment including tractors, mowers, and herbicide sprayers 
  5. Experienced on-site research and maintenance technicians for project support