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.
We enjoyed a delicious farm-to-table lunch from Earth’s Bounty Kitchen as we sat in the meadow alongside the creek at our Stuart Creek Run property. Tony shared stories about the removal of the longtime barriers that had prevented steelhead from returning to their native spawning grounds.
We ended the day with a drive up into the Mayacamas for a hike out to Secret Pasture, Sonoma Land Trust’s very first property. Secret Pasture was donated in 1978 by Otto Teller, one of Sonoma Land Trust’s original founders and late husband of Anne Teller. Here, Tony pointed out signs of porcupine activity, which was exciting to see because porcupines had been thought to have been extirpated from Sonoma County long ago. Our wildlife cameras recently captured a photo of one and Tony said the signs in the landscape were further evidence of their presence.
One of the real treats of the day was when we reached a meadow overlooking the entire Sonoma Valley, with open views all the way to San Pablo Bay and beyond. As we basked in the sunshine and reflected upon our 40 years of land conservation, we took a moment to appreciate and acknowledge the combined efforts of so many individuals over time with a vision to protect the landscapes of Sonoma County, and the incredible accomplishments that have come as a result for us and future generations. This truly was a celebration, and it was lovely to be able to take a moment and reflect over all that brought us to where we are today.
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.