by Fraser Ross
Sonoma County is a great place to live and explore. With its rugged coastline and rolling hills, world-class wineries and restaurants, and a pleasant climate, there’s something for everyone. However, for some of Sonoma County’s more wild residents, traversing the Sonoma landscape can be tricky — and, at times, perilous.
Human activity, fencing, roads and other developments can act as barriers to the safe movement of wild animals. Animals are forced to negotiate their movements carefully in order to travel undetected, while still maintaining access to vital resources. As such, many animals rely on wildlife corridors to allow them to travel safely across the landscape. Wildlife corridors are areas of wildlife habitat that provide linkage between larger areas of habitat, allowing animals to travel across their natural range in relative security and to access essentials like as food, shelter and mates.
In 2012, Sonoma Land Trust began a multi-year project that focused on the maintenance and improvement of the Sonoma Valley Wildlife Corridor, the narrowest section of a larger wildlife corridor known as the Marin Coast to Blue Ridge Critical Linkage. To achieve this, we have been engaged in a number of activities, including a large camera monitoring project to assess how wildlife use the corridor, continuous fence removal and underpass maintenance, working with local landowners to advise them on how to make their properties more wildlife-friendly, and vegetation management in the corridor.
One of our most recent activities was a large planting of native vegetation alongside Stuart Creek at Glen Oaks Ranch in Glen Ellen. Areas alongside bodies of water, known as riparian areas, are particularly valuable habitats for wildlife and are especially rich in biodiversity. Our planting of native vegetation at Glen Oaks Ranch aims to increase the width and cover of this relatively narrow section of the wildlife corridor, which, over time, will increase the potential for wildlife to comfortably use this stretch of land.
Native species, such as California buckeye, valley oak, big leaf maple, Oregon ash and coyote brush, were among those planted. These species play important roles in the effective functioning of a riparian area, such as:
This most recent planting is just the first step — more will follow next year. For the best chance of surviving and thriving, the plantings are all under irrigation and draw water from Glen Oaks’ natural well. They’re also protected from browsing by cages created by our wonderful volunteers.
With a lot of care and attention — and a little luck — we look forward to these newly planted trees becoming an important part of the Sonoma Valley Wildlife Corridor.
To find out more and how you can help, please see our Sonoma Valley Wildlife Corridor brochure.
With thanks to the Gordon and Betty Moore foundation for their continued support!
For the last six months, Fraser Ross has been an amazing part of the Sonoma Land Trust team, stepping in as stewardship assistant during assistant stewardship project manager Jen's maternity leave. We're bidding farewell to Fraser today as he transitions out of our office and into a bright future. Thanks, Fraser! We'll miss you!
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.