by Naomi Clark and Heather Ah San
On October 27, the long wait for Tolay Lake Regional Park will be over. After 13 years of restoration and development, Tolay will finally be open to the public to enjoy! At 3,400 acres, it is now the biggest park in the Sonoma County Regional Parks system. We’re proud to have played a role in the park’s formation, donating more than 1,600 acres of land from the adjoining Tolay Creek Ranch to double the park in size. The park is not only an ecological treasure, surrounded by rolling hills, oak woodland and, yes, a seasonal 200-acre lake, it’s a cultural gem, considered a sacred place by ancestors of indigenous peoples who occupied the site for millennia. In fact, the park will be managed as a “model of cooperation” between the county and the Federated Indians of the Graton Rancheria
It’s places like these that we at Sonoma Land Trust are proud to help protect, forever. Our partnerships with entities like Regional Parks allow us to transfer the management of such large properties for the public to enjoy. In other words, it’s because of the strength of our parks system that we can enjoy places like Tolay.
We in Sonoma County love our parks — so much so that Regional Parks says visitation has nearly doubled within the past few years. On top of that, added acreage to the Parks system — like Tolay — has doubled, adding more land and infrastructure that needs to be maintained and improved. We’re lucky to have access to some of the most beautiful and diverse natural landscapes in the nation, but our parks are in dire need of help — which is why we urge you to vote YES on Measure M — Parks for All on November 6.
For those of you who aren’t quite familiar with what Measure M is, I’ll give you a quick explanation: Measure M is a county-wide ballot measure that will help protect, maintain and improve not only county parks but city parks. If voted yes, there will be a one-eight cent sales tax over the span of 10 years that will raise over 11 million dollars annually, one-third which would fund city parks and the rest to Regional Parks. About 70 percent of Regional Parks funding will go toward maintenance of existing parks; the remaining third will be leveraged to acquire grants and other funding for new parks. If this measure passes, Tolay Park will be able to use this money to improve the historic land that has been preserved over the years. The public will be able to come to Tolay and learn about the land and how it was used by the indigenous people. Measure M will be able to help add infrastructure to the lands to be sure that everyone, whether you’re an experienced hiker or not, has the opportunity to see the land and get a chance to experience nature in its purest form. It will give the animals on this land a chance to still have a place to freely roam, and our future generations will still have a place to experience nature and learn from it. Measure M ensures that our parks and open spaces aren’t just for some to enjoy — they are for anyone from anywhere to experience.
Click through to learn more about Measure M
Naomi Clark is communications and community programs intern for Sonoma Land Trust.
In an alternate universe, Heather Ah San is Heather of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Protector of the Realm, Lady Regnant of the Seven Kingdoms, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons. In this universe, she’s communications coordinator for Sonoma Land Trust.
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.