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.
by Trevor George
If you’ve driven through Sonoma County in the spring, you’ve seen the bright yellow flowers lining our roads and highways. These plants are Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparius), French broom (Genista monspessulana) and Spanish broom (Spartium junceum), and they’re everywhere. Sonoma Land Trust and many other organizations, landowners and volunteers are waging war on these extremely invasive species.
by Shanti Edwards
We work with a multitude of volunteers, partner groups, neighbors and friends to coordinate land stewardship activities on our protected lands, and the caretakers of our properties are just as important as any of our allies.
Caretakers provide key services in exchange for living on a beautiful, protected landscape. In addition to being a security presence and liaison with neighbors and the local community, they mow vegetation to reduce fire danger, inspect road conditions, report landslides and trees down, and perform countless other duties associated with living in a remote and rural location.
by Karen Arrington
The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and to foster its renewal is our only hope.
― Wendell Berry
A retired builder, a therapist and an entrepreneur walked into a field.
This could be the set-up of a short and funny joke, but it was much more than that. These people, along with other fabulous volunteers, recently came to Tolay Ranch to tend to native plantings.
When Bob Neale, our stewardship director, suggested scheduling not one or two, but SIX! workdays at Tolay Creek Ranch in March, I knew our dedicated volunteer supporters could do it. And when I put the call out to our volunteers, and they responded with excitement (“I’ve never seen this property!”) and enthusiasm (“I will be there almost every day!”), I knew we were on to something big. Big, because we would be tending thousands of native plants that were planted by STRAW and middle school students over the past five years. Big, because we would be taking on a new zone each day with the goal of weeding all the natives in each zone, numbering well into the hundreds. Big, because each day would present a new set of challenges, such as working on steep slopes or wading through waist-high weeds to find the native plantings.
by Jen Stanfield
Earlier this spring, I hiked through Stuart Creek at Glen Oaks Ranch to monitor for invasive plants along the banks. Spring was in full force; the foliage displayed electric green hues, birds were chirping, insects were buzzing and, woohoo! — the spider webs were plentiful. As I made my way upstream, I caught a glimpse of something unusual attached to a nearby rock and, moving closer to investigate, I was delighted to discover … frog eggs!
by Nicole Na
A week from now, I’ll be squeezed into a car with my partner, our dog and all of our belongings, traveling up 788 miles of the West Coast. It’s with a simultaneously heavy and thrilled heart that I leave Sonoma Land Trust for a fresh start in sparkling, forested Seattle. Today marks the end of my penultimate week in Santa Rosa.
by Ingrid Spetz
The children gathered round in their white blouses, green ruffled skirts and flower-laden hair. A hush fell over the crowd as these sweet-faced girls put on their smiles and gathered the edges of their skirts. The music started — and so began a dizzying array of twirling skirts and stepping feet.
No, this wasn’t a Cinco de Mayo celebration; it was one of the activities featured during this year’s Dia del Niño celebration at Maxwell Farms Regional Park in Sonoma Valley. The dancers were the folkloric dance troupe from El Verano School. Their performance was one of the highlights of the day, when everyone came together and rejoiced in celebrating the children.
by Kyle Pinjuv
“Every man has to learn the points of compass again as often as he awakes, whether from sleep or any abstraction. Not till we are lost, in other words, not till we have lost the world, do we begin to find ourselves ..."
— Henry David Thoreau
Corby Hines, Sonoma Land Trust’s outings guide, had given me one instruction before beginning the 15.2-mile ascent to the summit of Pole Mountain …
by Shanti Edwards
… To protect the land forever is our tagline, and it’s been nearly 40 years since the Creighton Ridge Fire, after which Bob and Peggy Thieriot donated their Little Black Mountain Preserve to Sonoma Land Trust. Though 40 years is just a blink compared to an eternity, it’s long enough to see dramatic changes in the landscape, witness generational changes in the neighborhood and forge lasting relationships with our community of volunteers, caretakers and hikers who all share a strong affinity for this special place.
by Trevor George
Over the course of this winter and early spring, Bidwell Creek on our Live Oaks Ranch property has been getting a facelift. So far, we have planted over 100 native trees and shrubs along this creek, with more to come. These new plants provide important habitat and water quality improvements that benefit a variety of critters, including some species that are threatened or endangered.
What you might not realize is just how much collaboration and partnership is needed to complete a project like this one. Take a look at the photo below, which shows teenagers from a local school planting a buckeye tree next to the creek.
Now let’s step back and see what it took to get to this point. There are many great organizations that do conservation work throughout our county and elsewhere. For maximum impact, we all work collaboratively to complete projects like this. Our names occasionally might sound similar (Sonoma Land Trust, Sonoma Resource Conservation District, Sonoma County Agricultural and Open Space District, and LandPaths anyone?), and our mission statements might overlap, but when we combine our unique strengths, the result is remarkable. Here’s how this project came to be.
The Sonoma Resource Conservation District (Sonoma RCD), which provides technical expertise and funding assistance to private landowners, identified this stretch of Bidwell Creek as a perfect site for restoration using Caltrans’ mitigation funding. Because the Land Trust owns the land, we were able to provide access to the creek, water for irrigation, and staff and volunteer support. The Sonoma RCD planned the project and manages the contract with Caltrans, and they also chose to extend the impact of the project by partnering with STRAW (Students and Teachers Restoring A Watershed). STRAW connects with local schools to bring kids out to places like Live Oaks Ranch (and our former Tolay Creek Ranch) to plant trees.
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.