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Sonoma Land Trust TODAY

Towering old-growth forest … protected forever

Old-growth redwoods at Howlett Ranch. Photo by Wendy Eliot.

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.

Read press release

Thank you and farewell, Bill and Harry

Bill Osterland and Harry Richardson

Both Bill Osterland and Harry Richardson have ended their tenures on the Sonoma Land Trust board of directors. Harry joined the board in 2006 and Bill in 2012. Along with being very generous supporters, both have played significant roles in expanding our membership at all levels and in inspiring many others to also support Sonoma Land Trust. We continue to be inspired by their dedication to the protection of Sonoma County’s beautiful places. In leaving, Harry says: “It’s been truly an honor and pleasure to be involved with such a dedicated, talented and professional staff and board during an exciting time in Sonoma County’s preservation history. In spite of the Land Trust’s many accomplishments, I’m sure there’s much more to come.” Thank you for your service, Bill and Harry! You will be greatly missed.

Keeping current on wildlife issues

ringtail cats
Ringtail cats.

More than 600 members of The Wildlife Society recently met in Reno to discuss some of the latest wildlife research and conservation trends in the Western U.S. and Tony Nelson, Sonoma Valley program manager, attended to represent Sonoma Land Trust. Neither torrents of rain nor snow and mudslides kept him from learning more about ringtail cat and porcupine habitat needs! Did you know that scientists can now check for the presence of rare species in a watershed by extracting a mix of DNA from water downstream? Wildlife corridors are forefront in the minds of many wildlife biologists and ecologists, and we hope to present our studies of the Sonoma Valley Wildlife Corridor at this conference next year.

A rare sight in the Sonoma Baylands

Ridgeway's Rail
Ridgway’s rail (allaboutbirds.com).

In 1990, Sonoma Land Trust purchased 348 acres along San Pablo Bay that we know today as Sonoma Baylands. In 1995, the tides were reintroduced there and, since then, Sonoma Baylands has transformed into a flourishing tidal marsh. Just one week ago, during a routine survey, San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge biologist Meg Marriott identified 20 endangered Ridgway’s rails at the Baylands! “Sonoma Baylands was a model for Sears Point and the fact that rails are now thriving there is a true mark of success,” exclaims Julian Meisler, our Baylands program manager. "We learn so much from the successes and failures of other projects. This gives me great hope for Sears Point in the decades to come.” If you’d like to seek the Ridgway’s rails (say that 10 times) for yourself, park at Sears Point and walk the Bay Trail, which traverses the entire length of Sonoma Baylands and more. 

Tracking big felines with the Felidae Fund


Sonoma Land Trust is partnering with the Felidae Conservation Fund to track mountain lion activity on our North Coast properties as part of the Bay Area Puma Project (BAPP), the first large-scale research, education and conservation program for Bay Area mountain lions. Tracking data will help us better understand puma movements and land use, population genetics, general health and diet variability. This information will help determine the effects of human development on mountain lion health — and also determine critical cougar habitat! Mountain lions play a critical role in maintaining the health and balance of ecosystems around the Bay Area, and BAPP will promote coexistence and less conflict between humans and these graceful predators.

For more information, click here.

New videos on Sears Point wetlands

Wetland restoration

KRCB recently aired a new North Bay Bountiful episode on land conservation that included a story about our Sears Point wetland restoration project.

Enjoy it here

The Sonoma Resource Conservation District, in partnership with SLT and Baylands landowners, recently completed a short video shedding light on the area’s vast history of native use, economic incentive, agricultural productivity and land preservation.

Watch it here

“Wetland Restoration is Working” is the title of a short video from the San Francisco Bay Joint Venture that shares good news about the restoration efforts along San Pablo Bay undertaken by SLT and other partners.

View here


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February 2017

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Welcoming Shannon

Shannon Nichols
Photo by Ed Aiona.

We are delighted to introduce our new director of philanthropy, Shannon Nichols! With more than 15 years of experience as lead development officer, most recently at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Sonoma County and 10,000 Degrees, Shannon brings a wealth of fundraising expertise along with a great appreciation for nature and land conservation.

“I’m looking forward to meeting many of our members and thanking them for making it possible for Sonoma Land Trust to permanently protect that which makes our county so special,” says Shannon. “I know that the work we do today will serve many generations to come.” Shannon and her family live in Windsor. Glad you’re here, Shannon!

One Stick at a Time
A film about beavers
Thurs., March 9, 7–9pm

Photo by Daniel Rose.

Join us at the SLT office to learn about the Methow Beaver Project in Washington and join in a discussion with Kent Woodruff of the U.S. Forest Service. This event is co-hosted with the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center.

Register online

OpenRoad visits Tolay Creek Ranch!
Sun., Mar. 12, 6:30pm, NBC TV

Open road

Doug McConnell’s third season of OpenRoad begins on March 12 with a story about the Land Trust’s transfer of Tolay Creek Ranch to Regional Parks to double the size of Tolay Lake park. Featuring stewardship director Bob Neale and Regional Parks director Caryl Hart, enjoy a visual feast of both properties and learn what we all have to look forward to when Tolay Lake Regional Park opens to the public later this year.

Seeking lead instructor for summer Bay Camp

Bay Camp
Photo by Corby Hines.

Have experience working with kids ages 7–10? Fluent in Spanish? Love being out in nature? Help develop our new bilingual Bay Camp program for this summer and lead children in the outdoors.

Learn more here

It’s time to register
Forest conference
June 7−9 at SRJC

Forest Conference
“Growing Resilience in our Forests and Woodlands” is the theme of the North Coast Forest Conservation Conference, which SLT is hosting in partnership with the Sonoma County Forest Conservation Working Group. Learn about innovations in forest conservation, opportunities for action and collaboration, and how to be a good steward of your own forest.

Register online here

Wildflowers with Peter Warner

Our spring outings series begins with an introductory wildflower talk on March 23, followed by a series of five hikes with expert botanist Peter Warner. Keep an eye out in early March for our spring schedule and the opening of registration.

Artisan Cheese Festival Marketplace
Sun., Mar. 26, noon−4pm

Cheese festival

Join us Under the Big Top at the Sheraton Sonoma County for an afternoon of enjoying the best of local cheeses, wines, beers, ciders and other specialty foods from the North Bay and beyond. Sonoma Land Trust is a beneficiary of this wonderful annual event and we will have a booth at the Marketplace, so please stop by!

More information

In case you missed it

Open space
Conner Jay/Press Democrat.

The Press Democrat recently covered Greenbelt Alliance’s new report on open space protection around the bay showing that Sonoma County is a true leader in protecting open space. From the article: “The strength with which Measure K passed … really indicates the value that our communities place on open landscapes,” said Dave Koehler, SLT executive director, which has protected more than 48,000 acres in the county.

Read full article

Sears Point by boat


If you haven't yet kayaked the stunning wetlands at Sears Point, this blog post from Dan the Estuarian might just persuade you to get out there, either with your land trust or on your own!

Read blog here

Questions or comments? Email Sheri Cardo, managing editor.
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