by Tom Tolliver
In the 2015 Sonoma County Community Wildfire Protection Plan it describes the 1964 Hanley and Nuns Canyon fires that burned in the same manner and path as the 2017 Tubbs and Nuns Canyon fires. It’s clear from our history that Sonoma County burns. If you haven’t done so already check out the interactive county fire map depicting wildfires from 1939 to 2016 developed by our GIS guru Joe Kinyon:
If fire is a natural occurrence on our landscapes, how does the Land Trust become as resilient as the landscape we protect? By being prepared for future fires. In the coming months we’ll update our fire disaster planning template to address three key areas: fire prevention, fire response and fire recovery. Using this template to create and implement a fire disaster plan for each preserve will become an important element of our property stewardship.
by Bob Neale
Our world is so busy now that it is often difficult to take a moment to breathe, to take a moment to step back and look at the big picture or see the results of our work. Last week I was out at Tolay Creek Ranch counting how many trees were alive in the lower stretch of the creek. As the day was progressing, I realized that I had been working on restoring that lower section of creek for more than 10 years — a decade of oak trees, creeping wild rye and children planting seedlings (and ticks, poison oak and sunburns…).
The reason I was counting the trees is that the number of trees that lived is one of our primary metrics for success. But our work out there is so much more than just the trees we planted. It involves changing behavior, like how the cattle are managed and how the landscape responds. It involves coping with things we can’t control, like drought and floods, and the changes these natural events bring to the landscape. I started thinking about what change had actually occurred and I realized I couldn’t exactly remember those first visits I made in 2006 and 2007 and what Tolay Creek looked. Like the face of my daughters over the years, I knew the creek had changed; it was different. I couldn’t exactly say how it was different, just that it is.
So when I returned to the office I looked for photos of those early days and was stunned — in a good way. So I thought I’d share:
by Katy Reynolds
It is not often in life that you experience something coming full circle. But when it happens, it is something to savor and appreciate. Recently, I led a hike with 20 or so 12 to 13-year-old girls on Laufenburg Ranch. They were from a school in the Bay Area and had come out to the ranch for a father-daughter campout — the first we’ve ever had the opportunity to host on one of our properties.
We walked along the trail and talked about Sonoma Land Trust’s mission in our community and the importance of environmental conservation. At one point, we passed by an old habitat restoration site. Dotting the field along the creek, you could see the young oak trees that had been planted there over 10 years prior poking out of the tall grass. It was heartening to see the trees thriving and naturalizing into the landscape, providing habitat, erosion control and other important functions, just as they were intended to do. We stopped and talked about restoration and why it matters, but best of all, I was able to share with them that it was, in fact, my class all those years ago that had planted the trees, and how proud I was to come back and see them today.
by Ingrid Stearns
Running Sonoma Land Trust’s On the Land program, I find myself at the interface of humans and nature. My job is to design ways to get people into the outdoors to experience the places we have been working to protect. A basic premise is that when people directly experience a place, that personal connection helps bring the abstract ideas of land conservation into a tangible reality.
While we might not get to experience every inch of every area that we’ve put into protected status, our On the Land program brings people close enough to taste a variety of the landscapes and habitats that make up this amazingly diverse county — from redwood forests to coastal prairies, tidal marshes to oak woodlands, and on and on.
Recently I’ve been contemplating what brings people into the outdoors and what inspires people to take a walk with us. For some, it’s the opportunity to experience places they can’t otherwise see. For others, it’s the opportunity to learn something new about nature. And some people experience a deep nourishment from being in natural landscapes, away from the concerns of the world. Yet what I’m beginning to realize is one of the true values of our program is providing people the opportunity to connect with each other in the natural world.
by Heather Ah San
Have you voted yet? We all know how important voting is, and as the June 5 election approaches, you’re probably trying to educate yourself on all the candidates and ballot measures in California.
Sonoma Land Trust is in strong support of Prop. 68, a $4 billion investment to protect California’s parks, clean water and our incredible wildlife habitat and natural resources. California’s last park bond act was Prop. 84 in 2006; almost all of that money is gone today. Our parks and water need ongoing maintenance, and in Sonoma County, we are in dire need of money to restore state and regional parks damaged in last year’s fires, to maintain wildlife corridors and to provide funding for park-poor areas like Roseland and southwest Santa Rosa. The Press Democrat recently endorsed Prop. 68.
As you prepare to make your vote, here are some fast facts on how Prop. 68 will impact our region:
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.