by Trevor George
At Live Oaks Ranch, there is one road that provides access into and out of the property. In order to gain access to the farmstead, and the two occupied residences within it, vehicles must cross a bridge over Bidwell Creek. During the summer and early fall, we successfully replaced the failing, eroding concrete and culvert crossing with a new free-span bridge. The environmental benefits to this project are many: reduced erosion for better water quality, improved aquatic wildlife passage, reestablishment of the natural flow and quality of the stream, and more. But what I’m writing about today is a different aspect of the project.
by Corby Hines
Five of my friends, most with families, lost their homes in the recent Sonoma County wildfires. With the staggering losses that seem to have touched everyone in the county in some way, it would be easy to view fire as something monstrous, and I couldn’t blame you. An event of this scale is sure to cause a shift in our perceptions. To make this shift more of a beneficial one, however, I encourage everyone to examine our historic relationship to fire as it spans from time immemorial. That relationship was once healthy and productive for people and the landscape alike, and no doubt can be healthy and productive once more.
by Heather Ah San
When someone asks you where you’re from, what do you usually say?
In my freshman year of college in Oregon, I struggled as an outsider to describe my home base.
The answer Sonoma County was met with crickets.
Wine Country? “That’s close to L.A., right?”
Fine, the Bay.
You’d think I said I lived in Santa’s North Pole based on their fervent response. How lucky I am, they’d say, to live so close to San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, all connected by our beautiful bay waters that allow us to call our home “the Bay.”
by Ingrid Spetz
So much of our modern world is based upon conveying information. As a species, we know more collectively now than we’ve ever known before, and that knowledge is growing exponentially. In a world with so much important information out there competing for our attention, how do we decide what to pay attention to? And what do we actually remember?
These were some of the questions that we pondered during a five-day interpretive planning workshop I attended last week in the Carmel River Valley. As interpreters of the natural world, our job is to help instill in others a love of nature and a desire to protect it. How we form that bridge between what people hold as their own highest, most closely-held values and the conservation work that we do is key to developing the support that is needed to continue this work into future generations.
by Bob Neale
As I bumped around in my morning routine, I noticed the sun shining its early light so much lower on the horizon. Glorious. Every year it seems that it is suddenly fall. Not a slow coming round the corner day by day but a thump, a sudden change, a new scent in the air, the colors are different, a sudden chill.
Summer is over. I love autumn, even though I’m not a fan of change. And that’s what it harbors — the closing of childish joys of summer vacation, a visceral hint at the darkness and cold to come. And that brief time in between is the absolute best time to be alive in California and in Sonoma County.
Don’t you just want to shut down your computer and run out into the fall air and frolic in the poetry of the season? Well, that’s what we like to do here at Sonoma Land Trust — literally. Enjoy a few Haiku written by our stewardship staff to ponder over a tasty cup of joe.
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.
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.