Relationship with EBMUD


Representatives of the District have stated that the principal reason for leasing
watershed land is to reduce the amount of forage by controlled grazing, thus reducing the
danger of fire. Traditionally this purpose was accomplished

by leasing pasture to cattlemen. The OHA lease was the District’s first lease for the
grazing of horses used for recreational purposes. As lessee the Association has been
careful to observe not only the letter, but the spirit of the lease. Generally it has been
the responsibility of the President to represent the Association, however, to provide
continuity and to take advantage of experience, a former president has performed this duty
on occasion.

Bob Lewman, President during much of the 1970’s represented OHA with the EBMUD and
established excellent relationships with the Districts property management people, notably
Harry Dano and Bill Hartman. As a result, the District often provided services benefiting
OHA members, such as moving water troughs, minor grading and gates and supplies.
Succeeding presidents have continued maintaining good relationships with District

.As is typical of Northern California’s climate, the last thirty years have witnessed a
succession of dry and wet years. This has required flexibility on the part of the
membership to adjust behavior to the changing conditions. The OHA has cooperated
responsibly thus gaining confidence of the District’s officers. It has been the practice
to regularly discuss the condition of the pasture and anticipated feeding procedures.

Annually, EBMUD surveys its range lands to determine the animal carrying capacity of
the forage and its anticipated growth during the season. The numbers of AUMs produced may
vary widely from year to year, depending largely on rainfall. Animal Unit Months – (AUMs)
are allocated by the District to lessees, and the allocation determines the number of
animals which may be pastured without supplemental feeding. The calculations are made
figuring that 1.25 Animal Unit = 1 horse for 1 month, 1 ton hay = 3 animal units, 1 ton
grain = 5 animal units. For many years now OHA has been allowed 398 /AUMs per year.

Before the mid-1970’s drought, thirty-two horses were kept year-round on the Upper
Pasture. During the extreme drought of 1976-1977, the allocation of AUM’s was reduced. OHA
responded by not replacing horses leaving the pasture and increasing supplemental feeding
by its members. At the conclusion of the drought the census was restored to a total of
thirty-two horses grazing both the upper and lower pastures. In January 1985, President
Linda Furtado reported to the membership on a meeting with Stephen Abbors, Range -forestry
Superintendent of EBMUD. Abbors indicated that at the end of the grazing season at least
one thousand pounds of forage per acre should remain to prevent erosion, to provide good
water quality and to provide ample seed for next year’s growth. At that time, he reported
that the OHA pastures had sixteen hundred pounds per acre and generally were in excellent

In July, 1989, EBMUD strongly requested that OHA use 100% of the Animal Unit Months
(AUM’s) allocated as the pasture was underglazed. Over the protests of a few members, the
Board voted to add six more horses and selected a committee of six to interview and select
candidates for membership

Over the years, reflecting changing public attitudes, the District has developed
policies to further the environmental protection of the land and the wildlife present on
the property. The OHA has been very supportive of these objectives and has cooperated with
the District in solving problems which arise. During the 1980’s, the primary interest of
the District shifted to the total ecology of the pasture. It was prepared to embark on new
grazing policies: to require rotation of horses among the pastures; to re-seed damaged
areas; and to involve itself more closely in the management of the land resources. This
has been the experience of the last fifteen years.

President Morris Older reported to the membership in August 1989, that even in drought
years, EBMUD recognized that the OHA pasture stays green longer because of late afternoon
ridge shadows covering the pasture during the hottest part of the day and fog and dew
keeping the grass moist. As a result, EBMUD staffers repeatedly acknowledged that the OHA
pasture was perhaps the healthiest ecosystem of all the grazed EBMUD pastures.

In a letter dated 2/9/93, addressed to its grazing lessees, Mr. Robert C. Nuzum,
Director of Natural Resources Department, indicated that the District was holding hearings
as part of drawing up a new master paln for the watershed lands. This would be the first
revision to the District’s “Land Use Master Plan” since 1970. Mr Nuzum stated
that reconsideration could substantially modify the land uses in which OHA and other
lessees were involved, as the District’s goals and priorities had changed since 1970, with
greater emphasis now to be placed on certain environmental problems which the District
will mitigate or eliminate. He expressed the intent of EBMUD to address identified
problems over the next three years by January 1995, and develop a mechanism which will
allow OHA to work cooperatively with EBMUD staff to determine how best to meet the
“no net impact” objective. Measures that were considered included banning
grazing on District lands, limiting grazing, and fencing livesotck away from streams and

In testimony before the Citizens Advisory Committee, Morris Older pointed out that
horses were less damaging to the ecology of grazing lands than were cattle since the
former were not subject to the economic pressure prevalent in the cattle business. Also,
the habits of horses differed from those of cattle which tend to “hang out” near
ponds or streams, while horses tend to gather on high windy plateaus. EBMUD staff, while
condemning cattle grazing, seconded these arguments in their testimony. While the adoption
of the master plan led to elimination of some cattle leases, the reduction of others, and
the fencing off of sensitive riparian wildlife habit areas on district lands grazed by
cattle, OHA remained mostly unaffected. Rather than fencing off the pond, the pasture
rotation timetable was changed, which has allowed the reeds to take over larger areas of
the pond, providing increased sanctuary to the birds, fowl and turtles living there As the
result, it was decided to defer indefinitely the fencing off of the lake, much to the
approval of the OHA members. The most concrete consequence of the adoption of the master
plan on the OHA pasture to date has been the fencing off of the creek running through the
North corral in 1997.

Other EBMUD policies affect members of the OHA, sometimes not to their liking. For
example for years OHA members had been able to share the pasture experience with their
dogs as well as with their horses. In the late 1980’s, however, EBMUD decided that in
order to protect the wildlife sharing the pasture with the horses, dogs would no longer be
allowed anywghere on the pasture. OHA members and others protested the policy which
subsequently was modified to permit dogs on leash “for personal protection and
safety, but not for pleasure anywhere in the pasture except in the vicinity of the pond,
and off-leash when ascending the trail from the south gate on El Toyonal up to the gate
into Tilden on Seaview Trail at the top of the upper pasture.