Lost Resource: Jim Clawson

W. James (Jim) Clawson passed away in Dallas, Oregon on January 7, 2022, from pancreatic cancer at the age of 89.  Jim was the son of William, a presbyterian minister and Ruth Clawson. He was the nephew of Marion Clawson, first Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).  He graduated from Livermore High School in California.  Jim met Karin Beskow at University of California, Davis and they married in Santa Rosa, CA in 1957.

Jim attended Lewis and Clark College in Portland and Colorado A&M, then did a stint in the Air Force before settling in at UC Davis where he completed BS and MS degrees in Animal Science.  After a few years working for Farm Bureau and the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, Jim became a 4-H advisor in Ventura County in 1962 and then the Livestock and Range Farm Advisor in San Luis Obispo County in 1964.  In 1968, he became an Extension Specialist in the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis where he worked on animal nutrition and animal waste management.  In 1972, Jim became the Range Specialist in the Agronomy and Range Science Department at UC Davis, where he initially worked on rangeland weed & brush control, seeding and fertilization.  Shortly afterwards,  public land grazing became an issue that needed attention; however, in those days, increasing agricultural production was the priority for extension and the university promotion system did not reward addressing public policy issues.  But that didn’t deter Jim and so, following a sabbatical at Colorado A&M where he worked with Tom Bartlett and Bill Jameson, Jim led efforts that  focused the range extension program on public policy issues, which was a new and challenging initiative for the extension service.  Jim addressed public policy issues with good science and was instrumental in agency adoption of residual dry matter to monitor grazing use.

Jim was the definition of a people person.  Mentoring, organizing people, and community involvement were hallmarks of Jim’s career.  Having benefited from several mentors early in  his life, Jim mentored many young advisors, specialists, and other professionals over the years.  In a male dominated profession it was especially important to Jim to welcome and mentor the first women livestock and range advisors in UC.  And they in turn, have become leaders and mentors themselves. 

Throughout Jim’s career, he encouraged and supported cooperation of people and organizations to address local and statewide problems.  As a Farm Advisor, he collaborated with agencies and private landowners on rangeland improvement projects, and he involved UC faculty and Cal Poly faculty in his local education programs.  He was instrumental in bringing agencies, universities, and ranchers together to focus on public land grazing, organizing one of the earliest Coordinated Resource Management Projects and making range ecosystem training of agency staff a priority for the university.  Collaborating with Colorado State University, UC researchers and U.S. Forest Service researchers, Jim coordinated data gathering efforts at the San Joaquin Experimental Range as part the International Biological Program Grassland Biome Project.  Also collaborating with CSU, Jim organized ecosystem training for agency staff in the form of the Annual Grassland Short Course so that agency and university staff could know each other and learn together. 

When riparian issues needed to be addressed, Jim  reached out to  the Oregon State University Department of Rangeland Ecology and Management faculty, resulting in decades of collaboration.  Near the end of his career at UC Davis, Jim was instrumental in helping ranchers address nonpoint source pollution issues, again in collaboration with agencies at all levels of government. His leadership led to the first statewide nonpoint source pollution program for California rangelands. 

Throughout his career, Jim was active in his community and his profession.  He was an active member of the UC Davis Alumni Association, a long-time Rotarian  and  a leader and organizer of local agricultural and conservation organizations.  In recent years he led the campaign for a tax measure that funded extension programs in the Dallas area  He served as President of the California Section of the Society for Range Management, was named Range Manager of the Year in 1990 and received an Outstanding Achievement Award from SRM in 1993.  In 2012, Jim sat for a UC Davis Emeriti Association video interview with Mel George (https://video.ucdavis.edu/media/James++Clawson/0_3x231to0).

Condolences can be sent to Karin Clawson, 360 W Ellendale Ave., Unit #30, Dallas, OR 97338.

Respectfully submitted by Melvin George.