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Sonoma Land Trust acquires land with redwoods and steelhead in wildlife corridor — will be added to Hood Mountain Regional Park

SANTA ROSA, CALIF., March 29, 2018

Tolay Creek Ranch

Sonoma Land Trust has closed escrow on a 40-acre property next to Hood Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve that contains the last stand of redwoods in the upper Santa Rosa Creek watershed, and that is part of a major regional wildlife linkage. Accessible only through the eastern boundary of the park, the newly named “Santa Rosa Creek Redwoods” property is completely undeveloped and contains the steep and wild Santa Rosa Creek canyon high up in the Mayacamas Mountains. The Land Trust plans to donate the property to Sonoma County Regional Parks later this year as a much-needed wildlands buffer between the park and the growing estate-home development along Los Alamos Road.

While there was interest in purchasing the property from neighbors whose development plans would have endangered the wild nature of this parcel, the landowners, whose family has farmed and run cattle on the western slopes of Hood Mountain since the late 1800s, wanted their land protected forever. “We are delighted that the Land Trust will be able to add our family’s land to the park,” says one of the previous owners, who wishes to remain anonymous. In addition to protecting this parcel, Sonoma Land Trust and the Sonoma Ag + Open Space District are working with these owners and other private landowners along Los Alamos Road to further protect this wilderness area just 20 minutes from downtown Santa Rosa.

Tolay Creek Ranch

The quarter-mile stretch of Santa Rosa Creek on this rugged property also provides ideal conditions for the spawning of threatened steelhead trout and for the rearing of juvenile steelhead. “Because this parcel is so important to fish and wildlife, we will work with County Parks to put an emphasis on protecting the wildlife corridor and critical fish habitat,” says Tony Nelson, Sonoma Valley stewardship manager for the Land Trust. “This property is wild and undisturbed, and we hope it will remain that way.”

“Literally, today, just over the boundary into this property from the park, I saw an 18-inch steelhead in Santa Rosa Creek!,” exudes John McCaull, Sonoma Land Trust’s acquisitions manager for Sonoma Valley. “This mature fish came back from the ocean via the Russian River, through the Laguna, through downtown Santa Rosa, and then five miles up the slopes of Hood Mountain. This is the first time in over a decade that a steelhead has been documented in the upper reaches of Santa Rosa Creek and it gives our protection of this property even more importance.”

Although a majority of Hood Mountain burned severely in the Sonoma Valley fires last fall, Santa Rosa Creek Redwoods escaped the flames. With no legal road access, it was a relatively inexpensive acquisition at $90,000, with funding provided by Wine Country Weekend, the San Francisco Foundation and major donors of the Land Trust.

Sonoma Land Trust added another 162 acres and a half mile of Santa Rosa Creek to the Hood Mountain/Sugarloaf Ridge park complex in 2016. “We are always looking for opportunities to protect more of Santa Rosa Creek and to connect Hood Mountain Regional Park to Sugarloaf Ridge State Park,” says McCaull. “Putting together an integrated park system can take decades of work. That’s why Sonoma Land Trust is in the business of ‘forever.’”

 

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 over 50,000 acres of scenic, natural, agricultural and open land for future generations, and is accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.

 

 

 

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