by Karen Arrington
“Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, not something you do in your spare time.”
Marian Wright Edelman
Edelman’s commitment and devotion to the causes she cares deeply about is reflected in her life’s work. This same level of commitment and devotion is something our volunteers share in common with her. Our volunteers give of their time and their talent, always answering our requests for help. Whether it’s pulling invasive species, planting natives, installing erosion control measures, contributing to the success of special events, being our eyes and ears on properties on which we hold conservation easements or helping the office move at full speed, our volunteers show up and help with projects that we couldn’t accomplish without their support.
by Kate Freeman
Spring has announced its arrival — the generous daylight and boisterous birdsong have made it abundantly clear. It feels positively trite to write a piece about springtime wildflowers, but I really can’t help myself, so bear with me. On a recent hike out on the land, I was treated to views of several spring ephemeral flowers. These blooms caught my attention not only for their beauty, but also for their less than conventional breeding strategies. In this season of birds and the bees, I got to thinking about the innumerable pollination strategies that exist right in our own backyards. Some plants play nice, offering nectar rewards to incoming pollinators, but others use fraud and imprisonment to ensure pollination. And while the birds and bees get plenty of credit, the less glorified creatures on which our native flora rely for propagation deserve some consideration. Here is my ode to the flies, mosquitoes, spiders and beetles, as well as the devious floral sirens that attract them.
What first got my mind in the gutter — or leaf litter — was the sight of this gorgeous native fairy slipper orchid, Calypso bulbosa. The unique morphology of these little stunners is comprised of petals and sepals suspended above a large, modified petal. This lower petal creates a slipper-shaped pouch, thus, the namesake fairy slipper.
by Julian Meisler
We are nearing completion of the repair or replacement of more than seven miles of fire-damaged fence at Sears Point. Fencing is what enables us to run a cattle operation there and that’s something we do for a variety of reasons, including weed control, fuel reduction and continuing our relationship with the agricultural community.
Believe it or not, fencing is actually pretty thoughtful work when working in wildlands. Every time a fence is replaced or constructed, we challenge ourselves as to whether it’s really needed and, if so, how do we make it wildlife friendly. The answer to the second question depends on multiple factors, including the location, the purpose, the type of wildlife in the area and others. Of course, we also need to ensure that the fence serves its purpose of containing cattle or whatever domesticated animal is on the land.
by Ingrid Spetz
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now, from up and down and still somehow it’s clouds’ illusions I recall…
— Joni Mitchell
A few months back, my colleague Tony Nelson told me he’d just been gifted a membership to the international Cloud Appreciation Society and asked if we might be interested in hosting a presentation by its founder. I wasn’t quite sure what to think. What is cloud appreciation and how would that tie in to our land conservation work?
So I reached out to Gavin Pretor-Pinney, the society’s founder, to learn more.
by Tom Tolliver
As I approached the end of the meadow where the grass and browse are quickly recovering from the fire, I could see about eight blacktail deer crossing it. I counted one buck, what appeared to be two yearlings and five does heading for Stuart Creek. This was the third week of February at Glen Oaks Ranch.
My job as fire recovery project manager is to manage the repair or replacement of the infrastructure at our fire-affected preserves. This offers an opportunity to see firsthand not only the damage at the Live Oaks, Glen Oaks and Sears Point Ranch preserves, but also how natural processes repair the fire damage of the natural areas. The best story is the one told in photos. (Click photos for captions)
by Kyle Pinjuv
Last week I had the pleasure of hiking the Bolinas Ridge Trail, which runs parallel to the San Andreas Fault in beautiful Marin County. We were in search of a hike where we could experience the pastoral beauty of the coastal habitat types and enjoy the emerging wildflowers and vibrant green grass the recent rains had brought to the landscape. We had found the perfect hike for that and then some.
by Bob Neale
My mom thinks I spend most of my time wandering around the woodlands and forests of Sonoma County, tending to all the plants and animals. When I tell folks about my work, or when I make presentations to groups or conferences, I share stories about sensitive habitat, wildlife corridors, restoring wetlands and fisheries, and managing nature. My PowerPoint presentations have photos of owls and mountain lions, serpentine wildflower blooms, and willows and oak trees we planted. These are things I care about deeply and I feel so grateful to be here at Sonoma Land Trust, where I can do this work. It’s good work. And it can often be complicated and, well, just hard.
But the thing that keeps me coming back to work each day isn’t the plantings at Tolay Creek Ranch, the hoped-for fish at Stuart Creek Run or the view from the top of Pole Mountain. No — what keeps me coming back is the people. This is the greatest group of people I’ve worked with in my whole career. I have the best colleagues in the world here at Sonoma Land Trust — especially the stewardship characters! They are dedicated, smart and full of integrity. They are funny, irreverent and always there when you need them. You’ve seen their words in the blog posts and you’ve seen their work on our preserves and conservation easement properties.
Let me introduce you to the “Stew Crew.” Next time you see them out and about in Sonoma County, say hi and tell them “job well done,” ’cause they are rocking your conservation world.
by Shanti Edwards
If a picture is worth 1,000 words, then here are 10,000!
Sonoma Land Trust and The Wildlands Conservancy (TWC) are partnering with Felidae Conservation Fund to track wildlife use of our coastal properties (Little Black Mountain, Pole Mountain and Jenner Headlands preserves) as part of their Bay Area Puma Project. The imagery obtained advances our understanding of puma movement and behavior and provides us with better knowledge about the array of wildlife — and humans — that make use of our lands. Here are some images recently collected across SLT and TWC protected lands. Enjoy!
by Trevor George
When I was in college at Sonoma State, I had a roommate who had just moved into the dorms from Hawaii. He had rarely, if ever, been to the mainland and chose Sonoma County for his big adventure away from home. He would do some of the things you might expect for someone fresh out of tropical Hawaiian paradise, such as walking to class in a thick parka, gloves and hat on a sunny, 65 degree day, and he would cook with Spam occasionally. But one difference in perspective that I had not expected was illustrated the first time he saw a squirrel.
“Whoa, is that a squirrel?! It’s a squirrel! Check this out! Did you see him?!”
by Corby Hines
The last time I flew to Hawaii, I marveled at how far off and isolated from land the island chain is. In fact, it’s the most isolated island chain in the world, being more than 2,000 miles from the nearest continent. While visiting this jewel in the Pacific, I wondered how ancient Polynesian navigators were able to discover this tiny paradise in the midst of a vast ocean, so I did a little research.
It turns out that the most likely explanation is that a little bird told them about it. In his book, “Voyagers,” the late artist and storyteller Herb Kawainui Kane shares the legend of how ancient Polynesians from islands in the South Pacific followed the migrating Kolea bird — also known as the Pacific Golden Plover — to discover their new home in Hawaii.
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.