by Elizabeth Newton
I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself, “What a wonderful world”
— Louis Armstrong
Last night, I walked along our rural lane, marveling at the beauty of the winter night sky where Orion and Sirius were twinkling brightly due to the waning crescent moon. I heard the cry of a mother fox and the answering mew of her kit, a reminder that the night-hunting shift was well underway. I’m thrilled to hear these sounds, just as I am to hear the soft hooting of the great horned owls and the screeching of the barn owls. We need all these night-hunting predators to keep our rodent population in check.
by Julian Meisler
The truth is, I haven’t been out much on the land lately. Without field observations, writing a stewardship blog can be challenging. Nonetheless, there’s always something to talk about when it comes to the natural world.
Today, I’m thinking back to August of last year when I read an article in The Atlantic magazine about the app called Nextdoor. If you’ve used Nextdoor, you need to read this humorous article.
A couple of things struck me: First was the writer’s conclusion that despite the political polarization in the United States today, people are mostly the same everywhere, be they Democrat, Republican or otherwise. Wherever you go, people are talking about who left the bag of dog poop by the edge of the trail and why, what was the strange noise in the neighborhood last night, or whether anyone can recommend a good plumber. It’s, somehow, reassuring.
by Paul DeMarco
If you’ve been following this blog, many of the talents and projects of our stewardship crew and On the Land staff are quite apparent. A partial list of projects would include public access, fish surveys, historic buildings and artifacts, wetlands restoration, kayak tours, summer camps, fire recovery, fire ecology, fences, local history, wildlife corridors, grazing, geology, road and culvert repair, bridge work (non-dental), mapping, botany, red-legged frogs and mountain lions. Not to mention writing and photography.
They work with ranchers, engineers, builders, ecologists, neighbors, botanists, conservation partners, politicians, attorneys, county planners, housecleaners, farmers, funders and regulators.
It probably looks like a dream job, doesn’t it? Aside from the ticks, poison oak, cold, wet, heat, the occasional querulous neighbor, tight deadlines, difficult decisions, limited funding and the self-driving ambitions that create two-year work plans to be completed in 12 months.
by Tom Tolliver
Since 2008, Sonoma Land Trust has been restoring the riparian corridor — the land along streams — of Tolay Creek. The stream was unraveling because of loss of vegetation and bank erosion. This process was set in motion because the main creek channel was dropping lower, which we call incising. When this happens, the stream can’t flood as easily and the water’s energy scours the channel and eats away at the streambank. That causes significant erosion and the creek takes all that dirt downstream. It also strips the vegetation of the streambank, which makes the banks more susceptible to erosion, both from the creek, but also from the grazing cattle who run up and down the creek banks to get from one side to the other.
by Shanti Edwards
We did it! Together, with our conservation partners The Wildlands Conservancy (TWC) and Sonoma Ag + Open Space, we opened the Jenner Headlands and Pole Mountain for public recreation, and invited residents and visitors alike to explore the landscape and deepen their connection with the Sonoma Coast. Since the Gateway parking lot on Highway 1 opened September 7, our trail counters indicate that 6,568 cars passed through the parking lot the first month, and nearly 300 hikers reached the Pole Mountain Summit in October. Visitation was down during the month of November due to poor air quality, but December was a busy month with a steady stream of happy hikers.
by Bob Neale
Today I read the news that Mary Oliver, my favorite poet, died. I am left quiet with sadness, looking out to the welcome rains, thinking this is NOT the New Year’s blog I was going to post. I wanted something that was positive and inspiring and new years-ish. Instead, word has come that the amazing poet Mary Oliver has passed on. Her poems, her essays, her unique yet simple perspective spoke to me deeply, woke me up to our natural world. She understood the land. She understood my connection to the land. She understood me, or so it seemed. So, like a team captain for an after school baseball game, I chose her for my team — for the earth’s stewardship team.
by Trevor George
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the ranch
The owls were hooting, each atop a large branch
The bats were hung in the barn in the back,
Preparing for flight and their evening snack
by Corby Hines
living through the ice age and global warming
Perspective is important. As a photographer, I’ve noticed that even a small move to reframe your subject can have a dramatic effect on the outcome of your picture.
With the recent National Climate Assessment, it’s easy to get depressed or even succumb to despair with the dire warnings of change and upheaval that we can expect with a rapidly warming climate. Our current picture of the earth’s climate future and our role in it is pretty dark.
However, a simple shift in perspective to reframe the subject will open up whole new possibilities. So, let’s take a wider view of earth’s climate and see global warming in a new light — by imagining something even worse! Let’s imagine what living through an ice age would be like!
by Tony Nelson
When describing the who, what, when and why of the Stuart Creek steelhead barrier removal project that we completed in October 2014, I’m often asked, “Have the steelhead come back yet?”
by Bob Neale
“When we hear his call we hear no mere bird. We hear the trumpet in the orchestra of evolution. He is the symbol of our untamable past, of that incredible sweep of millennia which underlies and conditions the daily affairs of birds and men.” -- Aldo Leopold.
I’m struggling to put down my iPhone and the ridiculous little news app I’ve been staring at for days … weeks … maybe months, as I try to glean meaning from our political tea leaves, the pundits’ sound bites, and the tweets from the politosphere. Sigh … the true outcome of our elections may not be known for years as the decisions of people so often affect the future more than the present. Looking out the car window, the smoky air is re-traumatizing. Horns, truck tires bouncing over potholes and racing internal combustion engines are filling the spaces between ash and light. My head is imploding; I can’t find a clear thought.
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.