by Shanti Edwards
Every year around this time — as the big leaf maples turn gold and begin dropping leaves, the reddish haze from distant fires fills the air and signs of the shifting seasons appear — I notice raptors abounding in the rolling grasslands of our coastal preserves. In addition to the dramatic influx of Kestrels, Red-tailed Hawks, Kites and Northern Harriers, we are visited by migrating raptors such as Cooper’s Hawks, Sharp-shinned Hawks and Ferruginous Hawks, all of whom bring their annual dance of migration and predation with vivid displays of exquisitely patterned wings.
by Trevor George
For a construction project like this, it’s tempting to wait until the end and just share the final completed project with “before” and “after” photos. And I will do that when the bridge is complete, but I think part of the intent of this blog is to show you the inside of some of these projects. So we’re going to take a look at what it takes to build a bridge at Live Oaks Ranch.
The old, culverted bridge (see photo below) has been eroding and is at serious risk of failure. By replacing this with a new, free-span structure set above the creek, we are helping to restore the natural stream bed, provide better passage for aquatic wildlife and stop erosion that degrades water quality. Since this property contains residences across Bidwell Creek into the farmstead, we’re keeping the old bridge functional and passable while we build the new bridge slightly downstream. Once the new bridge is complete, we’ll demolish and remove the old one. This project is just one part of our greater habitat enhancement plans for Bidwell Creek on Live Oaks Ranch.
by Tony Nelson
Yesterday, as I was checking into some things at Glen Oaks Ranch and walking by the old stone “mansion,” it occurred to me that it is almost time for one of my least favorite annual chores.
I love the crisp days of fall with visions of cooking everything pumpkin. I don’t mind the deepening cold — and I love rain when we get it — but I lament the passing of summer’s sun and really good peaches. I know I’m not alone in this amongst my fellow hominids, but wild animals have more to deal with living outdoors and I suspect they are not as comfortable with the changing weather soon to hit us.
by Corby Hines
It had been awhile since I’d last waited with friends for a big yellow bus to arrive, but that’s just what Omar, Ezekiel and I found ourselves doing a few weeks ago on a bright summer morning on the first day of Bay Camp. Parents would soon be arriving at the El Verano School to check in with us and drop off their kids for the day. We checked our list again: 16 kids, ages 6−13. Some didn’t know how to ride a bike; most had never been in a kayak before. This was Sonoma Land Trust’s first foray into running a day camp for kids and we hoped that we had thought everything through. The bus would show up any minute to take us to Sears Point, where for the next five days, these kids would make new friends, explore the tidal marsh, birdwatch, play games, go on scavenger hunts, catch lizards, create art, make forts, ride bikes along the Bay Trail and learn how to kayak on open water.
Hey Omar, here comes the bus!
by Julian Meisler
Lakeville Highway is prone to accidents and every year we see at least one vehicle come through the fence at our Sears Point property. In 2016, one section of fence was hit three times! So far this year, we’ve had only one accident, but the damage was significant.
by Kyle Pinjuv
Fog: Some embrace the cool reprieve it offers from hot summer temperatures. Some feel betrayed by its presence as they approach the beach in shorts and a tank-top with summery intent only to be forced to spend the day wrapped in a towel shivering in a cloud. Fog limits your vision and inspires the creative mind. It reduces contrast during movement, changing our perception of reality and literally causing us to move differently through space. It moves border-free without discrimination over land and sea. We cannot own it or control it. The fog is the San Francisco Bay Area’s breath. It is the gift that allows our iconic redwood forests to flourish. It is itself a coastal icon.
by Crystal Simons
The days are longer and lighter now that summertime has come to Sonoma County. It’s officially “field season” — the time of year when stewardship staff pull on work boots and set an automatic email reply that reads something like: “Thank you for your email. I’m out of the office for the next two days conducting field work. For immediate needs, please contact so and so...” Translated, what the auto-reply really means is: “Thanks for emailing me, but I’m out on a property getting muddy, identifying flowers, saving fish, mounting wildlife cameras, avoiding poison oak, eating soggy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, running out of sunscreen, bonding with like-minded environmentalists, landowners and schoolchildren, clearing roads, documenting stream conditions, saving land … and loving every second of it. Don’t expect a response for at least a couple of days because I’m blissed out on the fact that my job takes me outside and I’m probably not going to look at the computer today.”
by Ingrid Spetz
Bay Camp, Bay Camp, Bay Camp — I’ve been eating, dreaming and breathing Bay Camp for what feels like an eternity now. And it is finally here! On Sunday, we opened with Camp Kick-off Family Day, and it was wonderful to bring a group of families out to see and experience the threshold to San Pablo Bay.
by Corby Hines
The more time we spend in a particular place, the more we are shaped by it. This is true for individuals as well as cultures. In fact, the place that we live literally becomes part of us. Nearby trees release oxygen that we breathe, the food that grows from the soil we walk upon is the stuff that makes up our bodies, and those bodies respond to that particular place’s climate, latitude and geography. Even our psychology is affected by these variables of place. Over generations, these influences create a culture that is reflective of the place that nurtures it.
My job as the outings guide for Sonoma Land Trust is to connect people to this place — and what a magnificent place it is! We call it Sonoma County — the place between the Mayacamas to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west; between San Pablo Bay to the south and the deep forests and rugged hills to the north. Life has been blossoming here for a very long time and life’s wisdom is inherent in this place. We can only benefit as individuals and as a culture from tapping into this wisdom, and the more time we spend out on the land, the more wise we become.
Life’s strength is in its diversity — and we have an amazing diversity of places to discover and explore in the 50,000 acres of land that Sonoma Land Trust has protected. Each of these places is unique and harbors its own wisdom for those who make the time to visit and connect.
by Julian Meisler
Over the past few winters, I watched with interest as the tides deposited all manner of things on the levee at Sears Point. Trash, unfortunately, has been a constant, with truck-size blocks of Styrofoam, liquor bottles, plastic this-and-that, rubber balls, and even appliances — an indication of the bay’s trash problem. But less distressing and far more interesting are the signs of life and the connection of Sonoma County to the ocean, the greater Bay, the Delta and, ultimately, the rest of inland California.
One winter morning after the levee breach, I stumbled upon the decaying remains of a spawning salmon or steelhead. It shouldn’t have been surprising, but it was. After all, it had been a hay field just a couple of months ago and this fish had lived so recently in the Pacific Ocean.
Sonoma Land Trust is a local nonprofit based in Santa Rosa, CA, that conserves scenic, natural, agricultural and open lands in Sonoma County for the benefit of the community and future generations. This blog focuses on SLT's stewardship team, whose members do hands-on work to directly protect, restore, and safeguard the land for generations to come.