by Kyle Pinjuv
Sonoma County is famous around the world for many things: the beautiful landscapes, the incredible variety of food and wine, the friendly and inviting culture of people who live here, the…supernatural activity? Yes, that is correct; if you start down that rabbit hole of searching for haunted places of Sonoma County, you will find books, movies and newspaper articles chronicling the rich history of this area and the stories of early settlements. Stories of those who landed here for one reason or another, and who are still here — for one reason or another.
A lonesome monolith at the foot of the Mayacamas Mountains, the now unoccupied stone mansion at Glen Oaks Ranch stands just out of view of the passersby driving along Highway 12 through the small town of Glen Ellen. Built by Charles V. Stuart in 1860 and kept in private ownership until Sonoma Land Trust acquired the property from Joan Cochran in 2002, the house contains many of the psychological mechanisms that correlate with the feeling of being uneasy or creeped out. Houses are generally excellent locations for stories of ghosts and hauntings for a reason. They can be found in somewhat remote settings and our uneasiness is heightened by the fact that any help is far, or maybe even inaccessible (think "The Shining"), and being inside a structure heightens our animal sense of being trapped…two conditions that don’t allow us to rest easy. These old houses typically have accessories that perfectly fit into our haunted mansion archetype: secret rooms, old paintings, distorted mirrors, unexplored attics and dark, damp cellars…what is down in that cellar? More importantly, it is the stories of the place that are passed among the living that feed our fears of the dead.
by Julian Meisler
For two days this week, I had the pleasure of joining leaders from California and Chile in a joint conservation conference organized largely by our former executive director, Ralph Benson. Now in its second year, the conference focused on coastal conservation and “was inspired by the remarkable symmetry of the mountain, valley and coastal landscapes of Chile and California, and by parallel efforts to celebrate, protect and restore our northern and southern lands and waters.” Indeed, the geography of Chile is strikingly similar to California’s, with a spectacular coastline, a central valley and a mountain range. The climate is reversed, however, with the northern portion of the country arid and warm like Southern California, and the southern portion of the country more like Northern California. Though that is an oversimplification, environmental issues facing Chile are the same as those facing California today (sea level rise, increased fire risk, drought) and California 50 years ago (increased development pressure).
by Bob Neale
This time of year — and especially this year — the arrival of autumn brings on melancholy. Light low on the horizon, summer over, winter coming … beautiful, but sad, a kind of heaviness in the air. Throw in the current political climate, regardless of your persuasion, and speaking of climate … oy! … and so it goes in my mind in the fall. And yet, like Venus rising in a clear night sky, a little bit of hope arrived last week. In fact, I believe it is the definition of hope — look it up in the dictionary and you will find a photo like this one. Seven pounds of beautiful, peaceful, little baby joyousness! Our very own stewardship manager Trevor George and his wife, Elizabeth, welcomed their first baby girl, Paige, into the world and, in the process, made our whole world brighter.
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
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.