Celebrating the wins of 2023
Reflecting on this past year’s many achievements, I was reminded of how endurance athletes often “find another gear” even in the most grueling conditions. That certainly describes our team in bringing to close some of the most challenging land acquisitions in our history, implementing a cutting-edge ecosystem restoration in the Baylands, holding the State accountable for its obligations to protect the natural resources of the Sonoma Developmental Center, and advancing the most ambitious urban park project in decades at the Santa Rosa Southeast Greenway.
This has been a tremendous time of growth and I invite you to celebrate all that you’ve made possible and dig into that extra gear to meet the challenges ahead.
—Eamon O’Byrne, Executive Director
Investing in where we live – 2023 Impact Report
“In many ways, this past year has felt like a renewal of our promises to the community. We successfully closed on projects that had been delayed and expanded our programs to invite more people to our preserves and to connect with nature.” – Scott Hafner, Board Chair
Read more from Scott and discover the milestone achievements made by our staff, board, partners, supporters, and community this year, caring for nature so it will care for us.
End of year highlight reel
Member Spotlight: Ginny Fifield
Sonoma Land Trust volunteer and donor Ginny Fifield can often be found on our preserves strategically placing wildlife cameras in key locations to record videos of the deer, raccoons, foxes, coyotes, mountain lions, and even bears that live in Sonoma County!
Ginny’s fascination with wild animals began in childhood when she was lucky enough to have “behind the scenes” privileges at the Milwaukee County Zoo (the zoo director was a close family friend).
“I grew up in the zoo!” Ginny explains. “I played with baby African leopards and Siberian tigers and got to watch the staff bottle-feeding them. It was just normal to me.”
When she was older, she took a position in the zoo’s education lab for children, introducing them to boa constrictors, flying squirrels, and tarantulas.
In 1972, Ginny set off for Brown University in Rhode Island where she completed an Independent Concentration in Animal Behavior.
Over the course of her career, Ginny has conducted field research with black-footed penguins in South Africa, bats in Tennessee, coyotes in Marin County, and jaguars and puma in Belize.
When Ginny first came to California in 1994, she worked with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife in the Eastern Sierras on a telemetry study that involved capturing mountain lions in the wild, fitting them with radio collars, then releasing them and tracking their movements. The goal was to learn about the impacts of human encroachment by discovering things like where the animals lived and what they ate, to better understand how they could thrive in the future.
For many years, Ginny has worked extensively with nonprofits and government agencies in Marin and Sonoma County setting up and maintaining cameras to document wildlife presence and activity.
After moving from Marin to Sonoma County in 2013, Ginny began volunteering with Audubon Canyon Ranch’s (ACR) Living with Lions project, headed by wildlife ecologist Quinton Martins. A long-time partner of Sonoma Land Trust, ACR’s Bouverie Preserve neighbors the Glen Oaks Ranch property near Glen Ellen.
In 2018, Ginny set up the first wildlife cameras at SLT’s Bear Canyon Wildlands. A dedicated volunteer, she has continued her work with Sonoma Land Trust staff over the past five years to document wildlife on our preserves, including Laufenburg Ranch and Live Oaks Ranch.
When Black Bears first started appearing on wildlife cameras in Sonoma County, Ginny joined the North Bay Bear Collaborative, which grew to include Sonoma Land Trust and other nonprofits and government partners. The cameras Ginny placed on the properties provided documentation that Black Bears were crossing through our preserves.
A resident of Healdsburg, Ginny says, “I’m thrilled that there’s an organization like Sonoma Land Trust that recognizes the importance of preserving land for open space and wildlife corridors. The Land Trust is doing an excellent job of acquiring and maintaining these properties, while focusing on the scientific aspect.”
From playing with baby leopards and Siberian tigers at the zoo to studying jaguars in Belize to helping document wildlife corridors in Sonoma County, Ginny brings a lifetime of expertise to her work with Sonoma Land Trust. Thank you Ginny!
We are thrilled to announce the acquisition of McCormick Ranch!
This 654-acre property stewarded by the same family since the 19th century, will be transferred to conservation and park agencies for everyone to enjoy.
For over twenty-five years, Sonoma Land Trust and our partners have been dedicated to protecting this last parcel of the McCormick Ranch property, navigating a challenging escrow process that spanned five years, two devastating wildfires, and a pandemic before the finalizing the closing paperwork this December. This is a milestone moment and a big win for our community!
McCormick Ranch offers many benefits:
- Ensures that 86-miles of an important wildlife corridor remains intact spanning from the Southern Mayacamas to the Marin coast.
- Provides habitat for a diversity of species including mountain lions and bears.
- Contributes to the large-scale mosaic that interconnects over 13,810 acres of contiguous land already conserved or in process.
- Creates a potential opportunity to create a new trail that will circumnavigate two major parks: Sugarloaf Ridge State Park and Hood Mountain Regional Park. We could not have achieved this without the support of our funders and generous individuals who collectively contributed $14.3M to purchase the property.
We are grateful for the opportunity to bring you this wonderful news and thank you for your support!
We are hiring!
Voted one of the “Best Places to Work” by the North Bay Business Journal, Sonoma Land Trust is more than just a nonprofit — we’re a community working together toward the vital goal of protecting the land forever.
Welcome Amy Swanson, new staff accountant
Amy brings over seven years of professional accounting experience to her role on the finance team. Born and raised in Sonoma County, she is excited to contribute her project management skills and passion for the local landscape to the organization’s mission. Amy graduated from UC Davis with a BS in Managerial Economics, and outside of work, she coaches volleyball at Windsor High School and cheers on the Sonoma State Women’s Basketball team. In her free time, Amy enjoys traveling and spending time in nature.
Applying for Renewal of Land Trust Accreditation
The land trust accreditation program recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever. Sonoma Land Trust is pleased to announce we are applying for renewal of accreditation. A public comment period is now open. Comments are confidential and must relate to how Sonoma Land Trust complies with national quality standards. If you would like to comment, please click here.
Events & Outings
Join us out in nature this month! Visit our outings page to learn more and register.
2024 outings will be announced in January
Language of the Land: Ancient Forests
In this talk, Breck Parkman discussed the nature of the ancient forests of Sonoma County and the significance of finding an ancient Sitka spruce and Monterey pine growing here at the end of the Ice Age. What might that mean in a world facing a changing climate?
Bosques antiguos del condado de Sonoma
Language of the Land: Resilient Landscapes
January 24, 2024
Join us for a presentation by Mimi Enright, Program Manager, Community Food Systems & UC Master Gardener Program of Sonoma County, to learn how to align the ecosystem services that our gardens can provide with the important aspects of being better prepared for future fire events.
- Book: Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World by Katherine Hayhoe
- Podcast: Nature Guys —Connecting you to the nature in your neighborhood
- Video: Unpacking 30×30 for Sonoma County
- Webinar: Ancient Forests of Sonoma County with Breck Parkman
- TED Talk: TED Explores: A New Climate Vision
- App: Peak Finder