Sonoma Land Trust honored by Supervisors
Last Tuesday, Sonoma Land Trust executive director Ralph Benson accepted a prestigious Gold Resolution from the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors for "… Sonoma Land Trust's Lasting Contributions to Sonoma County," as exemplified by protecting more than 27,000 acres since our founding in 1976 and for enabling "people of passion, persistence and a love of the land to come together to protect one of the most biologically diverse and scenic counties in the United States … forever.
In this photo: Front row: Supervisor Valerie Brown, Sonoma Land Trust acquisitions director Wendy Eliot and executive director Ralph Benson. Back row: Sonoma County Water Agency general manager Grant Davis, Ag Preservation and Open Space District general manager Bill Keene, Supervisors Mike McGuire, David Rabbit, Shirlee Zane and Efren Carrillo.
Click here to read the resolution
Saving wildlife by capping poles
At Sears Point and on many other Sonoma Land Trust properties, we use cattle as a management tool to help control non-native weeds. This means fences. Fences mean gates and gates are braced by steel poles, many of which are hollow. This year, we learned that throughout the western U.S., such hollow poles or pipes can be death traps for birds, reptiles and small mammals, but mostly birds. Birds perch on top and sometimes investigate inside from which they are unable to escape. Although we've found no evidence of this on our properties, we are not taking chances. Over the summer, Land Trust interns Ellen Gavazza and Devyn Friedfel walked more than 15 miles of fencing looking for such poles. They identified nearly 30 and are in the process of capping the tops. We appreciate their hard work and problem-solving skills.
Seizing opportunities that may not come again
Our membership drive for 2012 is underway and you will soon receive an invitation to renew your support. If you have not yet renewed, please take a moment to make a secure donation online by clicking below. With the help of our members, we are planning to protect another 15,000 acres of Sonoma County's stunning landscapes over the next few years. We know that once the economy takes off again, the cost of many of these properties will surely rise out of our reach. They will be carved up and made off-limits to the public. But that doesn't have to happen and it shouldn't happen. We are your land trust and, together, we can seize the opportunities that may never come again.
Please renew or become a member now. Thank you.
Pitkin Marsh — an outdoor laboratory
Sonoma Land Trust's 27-acre Lower Pitkin Marsh property is one of the most valuable complexes of mixed riparian woodland and thicket, freshwater marsh, wet meadow, oak woodland and grassland in Sonoma County — and, lately, it has become a hotspot for workshops on wetlands and sedge. Over the past summer, the property hosted four workshop tours for classes offered through Pepperwood Preserve, the Jepson Herbarium and San Francisco State University's Wetland Science Series. Students studied the plants in the field, used dissecting scopes in the lab, and used the new identification keys in the second edition of The Jepson Manual to learn how to distinguish sedges and rushes.
Tolay Creek — a landscape scarred by tragedy
Earlier this month, Sonoma Land Trust's Wendy Eliot and Bob Neale accompanied George Burk of Arizona, along with friends and neighbors, to a remote corner of Tolay Creek Ranch to remember and pay respects to 13 young men who died there in 1970 in the crash of a U.S. Air Force transport plane. George, then a 25-year-old Air Force captain and Vietnam veteran, was the only person to survive the crash. He contacted Sonoma Land Trust recently to ask our permission to revisit the site. We had been unaware of the events of that day, but George was able to contact neighbors and eyewitnesses to determine the crash site, which is still marked by dead trees that were sheared off by the aircraft. As George recounted his memory of the tragedy — the few minutes of flight; the fire, smoke and chaos of the crash; and his long recovery from his injuries — the air was still and quiet. And though a big battle did not rage here and no large statues have been erected, Bob explains that George's presence and story made this small chapter of history very real and personal. "It was a reminder that people have often lived and died unknown to us on lands that we may cross on a daily basis. It was a humbling day and a new reason to meditate on the sacredness of our lands. Thank you, George."
Coyote at the Jenner Headlands
You never know who you'll see on a Land Trust hike. On a recent outing to the Jenner Headlands, hikers were observed by this canny, charismatic canid.
DISCOVER Historical Ecology!
Join your land trust this fall for a series of hikes with historical ecologist Arthur Dawson. Discover how to observe the landscape to look for clues to its past, understand its present and think about its future. Gain skills that will deepen your ability to read the landscape wherever you are.
Click for hikes schedule
Annual Report to the Community
If you didn't receive our recent publication in the mail, please access it here, or view online.
Public notice of accreditation
Sonoma Land Trust is participating in a rigorous, voluntary accreditation program operated by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, which recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands. The Accreditation Commission invites public input on pending applications that relate to how Sonoma Land Trust complies with national quality standards. To learn more about the accreditation program and to submit a comment by October 31, please visit
For more info
Optics Fair and
If you’re thinking of a new pair of binoculars or a good spotting scope, be sure to visit the Wine Country Optics Fair and Nature Festival in Sonoma on Sept. 9. Sonoma Land Trust and a variety of other wildlife-related nonprofits will be there, too. Be sure to stop by our booth!
State Parks' found money
Help ensure all the heretofore hidden millions will stay with State Parks. Please contact your legislators and let them know how important it is to put ALL our money back into the parks!
More info here
Udall Scholar Stearns
Congratulations to outings coordinator Ingrid Stearns who was recently named a 2012 National Udall Scholar by the Congressionally-established Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation. This prestigious environmental award included attendance at a 5-day conference in Tucson focused on environmental conflict resolution at which she had the opportunity to meet with experts in the field of environmental policy and others involved with environmental issues. Ingrid also attended the 97th Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Portland this month at which ecologists from around the world shared their knowledge, expertise and research. Ingrid was able to attend several of the field trips and sessions on citizen science and traditional ecological knowledge to learn how others are implementing these themes on other lands.
Trails at your fingertips
Last week, Bay Nature launched its new TRAILFINDER – an easy-to-use online guide to Bay Area parks and trails. Designed to be a "one-stop shop" for information about hikes and outings in the Bay Area, Trailfinder will help you find hikes throughout the 10-county Bay Area that suit your interests and needs. Trailfinder features hundreds of trails, parks and open-space areas, with more than 1,000 trailheads in 425 parks from Sonoma to Santa Cruz, from San Francisco to Solano County.