by Trevor George
Over the course of this winter and early spring, Bidwell Creek on our Live Oaks Ranch property has been getting a facelift. So far, we have planted over 100 native trees and shrubs along this creek, with more to come. These new plants provide important habitat and water quality improvements that benefit a variety of critters, including some species that are threatened or endangered.
What you might not realize is just how much collaboration and partnership is needed to complete a project like this one. Take a look at the photo below, which shows teenagers from a local school planting a buckeye tree next to the creek.
Now let’s step back and see what it took to get to this point. There are many great organizations that do conservation work throughout our county and elsewhere. For maximum impact, we all work collaboratively to complete projects like this. Our names occasionally might sound similar (Sonoma Land Trust, Sonoma Resource Conservation District, Sonoma County Agricultural and Open Space District, and LandPaths anyone?), and our mission statements might overlap, but when we combine our unique strengths, the result is remarkable. Here’s how this project came to be.
The Sonoma Resource Conservation District (Sonoma RCD), which provides technical expertise and funding assistance to private landowners, identified this stretch of Bidwell Creek as a perfect site for restoration using Caltrans’ mitigation funding. Because the Land Trust owns the land, we were able to provide access to the creek, water for irrigation, and staff and volunteer support. The Sonoma RCD planned the project and manages the contract with Caltrans, and they also chose to extend the impact of the project by partnering with STRAW (Students and Teachers Restoring A Watershed). STRAW connects with local schools to bring kids out to places like Live Oaks Ranch (and our former Tolay Creek Ranch) to plant trees.
So here we are, working together to enhance the local environment and investing a younger generation in the future of our lands. Each organization involved in the project played an important role to implement an efficient and successful project. Among other benefits, wildlife will enjoy the new cover and food sources — and the children involved in the planting can return for years to come and watch their hard work pay off.
Big thanks to the Sonoma RCD for coordinating and leading the effort on this project.
Trevor George is a stewardship project manager at Sonoma Land Trust.
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.