by Julian Meisler
One of the more iconic photos following the fires at Sears Point Ranch was that of a western burrowing owl standing amidst the blackened grassland near the Ralph Benson Center at the Baylands. The picture evoked images of recovery and resilience. On a simpler level, it also suggested that burrowing owls might be using some of the artificial burrows that Sonoma Land Trust, San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge and a whole lot of volunteers installed several years ago.
by Tony Nelson
Seems like only a few months ago we removed an old bridge structure in Stuart Creek near Glen Ellen that blocked steelhead from returning to former, still high-quality spawning areas upstream for the last couple of decades. The restored 900-foot stretch of creek at our preserve, Stuart Creek Run, was specially designed to provide passage and rest for steelhead on their way to spawn.
Now, three years later, I’ve just finished drafting and submitting a final report for a grant that we received to open Stuart Creek to steelhead passage. I wish I was writing to let everyone know that I’ve found steelhead, but none have been confirmed yet. There are trout in the creek, so we know conditions remain good, but they may be offspring of resident fish — until we see large steelhead or find spawning beds (otherwise known as “redds”), we can’t say that steelhead have returned. So we wait.
The sites themselves look vastly better than before the project. The former fish barrier site now looks like a natural creek channel with beautifully developing vegetation growing alongside it.
by Kate Freeman
It’s Independence Day week and for most people that means celebrating with fireworks. While I too enjoy the site of colorful exploding missiles in the night sky, I often find myself questioning a tradition that produces both chemical and noise pollution. California hosts many naturally occurring phenomena that are as equally awe-inspiring as fireworks. Below I will introduce you to a few glowing alternatives that do not involve gunpowder (I recognize that the pyromaniacs have checked out already).
If you enjoy glow sticks, starry skies or glitter, then you will undoubtedly be enchanted by bioluminescence, which is the biochemical emission of light by living organisms. This spectacle is found in many marine organisms, such as bacteria, algae, jellyfish, crustaceans, seastars, fish and sharks (most of these are deep sea dwellers).
Is the chandelier firework what you’re after this holiday? Then I highly recommend getting your phosphorescent-fix somewhere along the coast. Head to Tomales Bay where single-celled organisms called dinoflagellates float near the water’s surface. Mechanical agitation — i.e., by a boat, a hand or the surf — causes a reaction resulting in a burst of bright blue light. When concentrations of dinoflagellates are high and waters are calm, you might witness a full-on aquatic firework display.
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.