Sonoma Land Trust protects biodiverse property in Mark West watershed for coho salmon recovery
SANTA ROSA, CALIF; — A beautiful 60-acre property in the upper Mark West watershed has been permanently protected with a conservation easement thanks to a generous donation by landowners Ray Krauss and Barbara Shumsky. Named by the landowners as the “Sunsrays Conservation Easement,” the project closed escrow today. Located northeast of Santa Rosa in the foothills of the Mayacamas Mountains, this biodiverse property boasts a landscape rich in natural resources, with clear, clean springs that provide year-round water flow to Mark West Creek, a priority stream for recovery of endangered coho salmon.
“As you look around, what’s happening to the land overall is fairly discouraging,” says Ray, who with his wife Barbara, purchased the parcel in two pieces, one in 1972 and one in 1986. “Even if it’s just one piece of the puzzle, protecting this property will provide a refuge in the face of an uncertain future.”
The landowners had contemplated an easement to protect their land for years, and the Land Trust was excited for the opportunity to add this biodiverse property to the network of protected lands and waterways in the Mark West watershed. Krauss was one of the County of Sonoma’s first environmental planners, and he and Barbara have methodically and lovingly stewarded their property over the years to restore its native oak woodlands. Its diverse vegetation also includes Douglas fir and mixed hardwood forest, chaparral and grassland. The property’s mosaic of habitats, part of the Lake to Marin County wildlife corridor, is suitable for numerous species, including mountain lion and black bear.
Knowing that fire can be beneficial to California’s natural landscapes, Ray has been managing his property with fire in mind. For decades, he has incorporated fire ecology and vegetation management into his stewardship.
The Sunsrays Conservation Easement, which is a voluntary agreement between the landowners and the nonprofit Sonoma Land Trust for the purpose of conservation, will prohibit subdivision and sharply reduce residential, commercial and agricultural use of the land in perpetuity — ensuring that the property’s undeveloped habitats are protected forever. The Land Trust possesses 45 easements around the county and, as with each easement it holds, will monitor the property annually to ensure compliance with the agreement.
“Protecting this property and its rich water resources is a wonderful legacy that will contribute to the ecological health of the upper Mark West Creek watershed for all time,” says Ariel Patashnik, land acquisition program manager for Sonoma Land Trust. “We are grateful to Ray and Barbara for their vision and generosity in conserving this special place and expanding an important network of protected land in the watershed.”
About Sonoma Land Trust
Sonoma Land Trust believes land is the foundation of our economy and our community’s health and well-being. Since 1976, Sonoma Land Trust has protected more than 50,000 acres of scenic, natural, agricultural and open land for future generations, and is accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission. For more information, please visit www.sonomalandtrust.org. #ProtectThePicture