One Oakmont couple’s generosity leaves lasting mark on Sonoma County

Dick and Sharon Schlegeris to be honored and remembered forever through estate gift to Sonoma Land Trust

Santa Rosa, Calif. — Outdoorsy, curious, kind, and easy to like are just a few ways friends describe Dick and Sharon Schlegeris, former residents of the Oakmont community in Santa Rosa.

Dick and Sharon Shlegeris were lifelong lovers of the outdoors and spent much of their time exploring the natural beauty of the region. Dick was a self-described “engineer gone bad,” who worked in finance at Chevron. He and Sharon worked toward retiring in Sonoma County, where Dick had family.

They spent much of their time from then on out exploring the outdoors, getting involved in the Oakmont Hiking Club, whose motto is “We’re not slow; we’re just not in a hurry!” Dick organized hikes for the club with Sonoma Land Trust, particularly exploring iconic places such as Pole Mountain and Glen Oaks Ranch.

“There is no higher compliment than to be included in person’s legacy and knowing that their love for nature will carry on through our work and mission.” Shannon Nichols, Director of Philanthropy at Sonoma Land Trust.

Sadly, we lost Sharon in 2021 and Richard in January of this year. He passed doing what he loved, of natural causes on his way to hike Annadel-Trione State Park.

Over the years, as Richard and Sharon became increasingly involved in Sonoma Land Trust, engaging more with their programs, and generously increasing their giving as they learned more about the nonprofits’ dedication to protecting nature and creating places for recreation. What started as a gift of 11 percent of their estate grew into a gift of 50 percent, and their realized planned gift was more than $2.7 million. Critical funding that will be used to secure, protect, and manage the places that make Sonoma County so exceptional.

We are deeply grateful for their support of land conservation in Sonoma County. They may not be here with us, but their spirit and legacy carry on through their family and friends and the beloved hiking trails they left behind for all to enjoy. Their gift is truly one that will make a difference to Sonoma County, in perpetuity.

DONE DEAL! Estero Ranch has been protected forever

Advancing their shared missions to protect scenic, agricultural and biologically significant landscapes, Sonoma Land Trust (SLT), the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District (District) and The Wildlands Conservancy (TWC) teamed up with the California Coastal Conservancy and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to purchase the 547-acre Estero Ranch, located south of Bodega Bay. The acquisition, which closed on December 24, permanently protects a rugged section of the iconic Sonoma Coast where the Estero Americano meets the Pacific Ocean, and will enhance SLT’s adjacent 127-acre Estero Americano Preserve. It will also increase the number of District-protected properties in the coastal agricultural belt of Sonoma County, and will serve as a companion to the TWC-owned and managed Jenner Headlands Preserve to the north. Watch video flyover here:

“This is a very exciting property to be able to protect,” says Land Trust executive director Dave Koehler. “Collaboration is the key, and each partner brings a unique set of tools to help get the job done. The estuary is where life begins for hundreds of fish and wildlife species, and the working ranch is a cornerstone in the scenic landscape of the Sonoma Coast. Its permanent protection has been a conservation goal of all of the partners for more than 20 years.”

We’ve acquired a 162-acre property in the wildlife corridor

Sonoma County parks officials and county land acquisition partners are finalizing a deal this month that will add an additional 162 acres to Hood Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve, unlocking for the first time a privately owned and largely untouched wilderness in the Mayacamas Mountains to public access.

The $319,000 deal for the private property by Sonoma Land Trust, a Santa Rosa-based nonprofit that acquires land to preserve it as open space, will allow Sonoma County Regional Parks to expand its network of hiking trails and overnight camping destinations, as well as protect a slice of highly coveted wildlands between Hood Mountain and Sugarloaf Ridge State Park from the possibility of future development.

“We’re only a half hour away from Santa Rosa, but this place still feels so wild and pristine,” said Wendy Eliot, conservation director for Sonoma Land Trust. “And it protects that gap between Hood Mountain and Sugarloaf. It’s very exciting.

Towering old-growth forest … protected forever

April 19, 2017 — The project has been completed. Howlett Ranch is now protected for all time!

February 21, 2017 ­— Back in 2014, Sonoma Land Trust began working to help a family on the North Coast protect their 1,380-acre property that includes one of the last remaining intact old-growth forests in Sonoma County. The property is also adjacent to Buckeye Forest, the former Preservation Ranch, and so provides desirable habitat connectivity. Thanks to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, Sonoma Land Trust provided the landowners with a loan that enabled them to keep their forest intact until they could complete the sale of a conservation easement to our partner, the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District. In the meanwhile, our acquisitions staff also secured additional funding from the Moore Foundation ($1.28 million) and The San Francisco Foundation ($50,000) toward the $6.13 million easement cost. Today, we’re excited to announce that the Open Space District received approval this week from its Board of Directors (the Board of Supervisors) to purchase the conservation easement over Howlett Ranch. “Projects like this one are important because it takes generations to restore old-growth redwood habitat — so we need to protect what remains now while we have the chance,” says land acquisition project manager Ariel Patashnik.