by Ingrid Spetz
Last Saturday, we conducted the first of 12 field trips celebrating Sonoma Land Trust’s 40 years of land protection. Sonoma Valley program manager Tony Nelson and acquisition project manager John McCaull guided us as we explored several different properties throughout the Sonoma Valley Wildlife Corridor. Attending as guests were members of Sonoma Land Trust, many of whom have been longtime volunteers and supporters of our work.
We began the day with a lovely visit to Anne Teller’s Oak Hill Farm, one of Sonoma Land Trust’s earliest conservation easements. Anne was a delightful host and charmed us with tales of the farm and land conservation. She offered coffee, oranges and flowers from the farm to take along with us. Tony pointed out features of the property to explain practices that help increase the permeability of the landscape for wildlife and help facilitate their passage.
Next, we took a walk through Sonoma Valley Regional Park, past the Curreri property — one of our most recent land transfers to expand the park — up to an overlook that gave us a great view of the Sonoma Developmental Center property. There, John spoke about Sonoma Land Trust’s involvement with the community planning project and efforts to ensure that the undeveloped portions remain that way.
by Trevor George
Often when I’m on the land, my eyes are drawn to geologic features. I can’t help it — it’s what I studied in school and it continues to fascinate me. At Live Oaks Ranch last week, I noticed some of the geologic processes taking place and thought about parallels to our work in stewardship.
Geologic events can take place instantly — but they can also occur very slowly. Take a look at this photo. Bidwell Creek is slowly and persistently eroding away at the bedrock below. The rock, a solidified ash flow, has been eroded into a lumpy creek bottom, creating beautiful pools like this one. The land will continue to shift over time as the creek cuts into the ground.
guest post by Elizabeth Newton
This winter morning was spectacular — the sun peeked through fluffy clouds and the moon was still large and bright in the blue sky. I eagerly donned my rubber boots, jumped in the car and drove out to Tolay Creek Ranch. There, Point Blue staff and AmeriCorps volunteers were joining students from Lawrence Jones Middle School in Rohnert Park (with accompanying parent chaperones) to plant two species of willow in a newly restored streamside (i.e., riparian) ecosystem.
The drive along Lakeville Highway was green and lush from recent rains. The rolling pastures were fresh with new grass on which goats, horses and newborn lambs grazed. Red-winged blackbirds showed off along a fence line, and a dramatic play of sun and clouds created a mosaic of light and shadow on the landscape. I thought about what a beautiful and special place Sonoma County is, with its farmlands and wild lands, its oceans and mountains woven together to create a unique and timeless fabric.
I parked at the site and hiked up the hill, the tall, wet grass soaking my pant legs. At the top was a circle of students, parents, AmeriCorps volunteers and Point Blue staff. Isaiah Thalmayer from Point Blue asked the students some review questions about the preparatory lessons they’d learned in advance and eager hands shot up around the circle. These young people really knew their stuff! They were able to explain willow-planting techniques, the special nature of riparian habitats, reasons for the restoration and names of the many species that would benefit from it.
by Corby Hines
Last week, I had the opportunity to become a Certified Interpretive Guide at a five-day training session in the southern Californian Anza Borrego desert.
What is an interpretive guide, you ask? Interpretation is the art of communicating the science of nature in ways that people can appreciate and understand. An interpretive guide should be able to relate the place to the audience, creating emotional and intellectual connections between the people and the land. It’s not just about providing information — it’s also about provoking revelations.
My own revelation occurred during the final day of the training when we toured a remote canyon in the desert. Our guide brought the group deep into the recesses of this canyon and turned our attention to the stratified cliff face towering above us. We observed the layers of rock, collectively representing millions of years of deposition. From our perspective at the bottom of the canyon, we were face to face with ancient rock.
Thousands of sea shells were cemented into the sedimentary rock at our feet, remnants of the ancient inland sea that once existed here. Further up the wall, a curious sight protruded from younger rock strata. Familiar-looking animal tracks were imprinted on a ceiling of overhanging rock.
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.