by Tony Nelson
On Monday, a few staffers (including myself) drove up Calistoga Road from Santa Rosa, then onto St. Helena Road into Napa County. We parked in a beautiful canyon and hiked up to a peak in Mt. Hood Regional Park.
A mini-swarm of bordered plant bugs joined us on our hike — at least, that’s what I think they were. Resembling beetles with orange or red edges, these are, in fact, true bugs. Most of us call anything smaller than our finger — or just kind of ugly — a ‘bug.’ This is terminology that entomologists hate because ‘bug’ is a specific term relating only to true bugs of the order Hemiptera. These things typically crawl on the ground but, on this day, many of them were flying around awkwardly, looking somewhat like a little gnat carrying a desiccated pomegranate seed and occasionally smacking into our cheeks and foreheads. Alfred Hitchcock would have thought them pretty cool, but probably not scary enough to warrant making a film starring them.
At the top of the trail, after staring at the mud for a mile or so looking for tracks (there were lots, but nothing out of the ordinary), we stood in a hot and dry patch of chaparral overlooking the southern Mayacamas, Sonoma Valley and Sonoma Mountain, and over to the Petaluma River and beyond.
We were standing very near the Napa County border and could see the entire stretch of the wildlife corridor we’ve been working on, all the way to Marin County. It’s not often that we’re able to have a vantage point like this over such a large landscape project. I started to imagine what it would be like to fly over the entire corridor like a hawk, but quit, knowing my imagination could never match the scope of what the hawk might see. Someone who had seen a bear track nearby a couple of weeks earlier said, “It’d take that bear a long time to get over there.” “Nah, wouldn’t take long,” I said. Maybe a day if it’s unmolested and doesn’t have too many barriers to navigate, I thought.
On the way back to the truck, we stopped to talk about our next steps to conserve that corridor — a fitting end to our hike. It was a nice day to be in conservation.
Tony Nelson is Sonoma Land Trust's Sonoma Valley program manager.
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.