Category Archives: Local Organizations

California Coastal Cleanup Day coming Saturday, needs volunteers in Sonoma County

Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Sonoma Coast Cleanup 2017: sonomabeachcleanup.org

Laguna de Santa Rosa and Sebastopol Laguna Wetlands Preserve 2017: lagunadesantarosa.org/volunteer_lagunastewards.html

Petaluma River Cleanup 2017: friendsofthepetalumariver.org/project/conserve

Russian River Watershed Cleanup 2017: russianrivercleanup.org

Santa Rosa Creek-to-Coast Cleanup: srcity.org/2290/Creek-to-Coast-Cleanup

Mendocino County Coastal Cleanup Day: mendocinolandtrust.org/connect/coastal-cleanup-day

Sonoma Ecology Center Cleanup 2017: brownpapertickets.com/event/3042967

Do you find yourself dismayed or even tormented by images of seabirds, marine mammals, fish and other sealife with their guts full of plastic and other trash?

Here’s your chance to help, and it only takes a few hours.

Saturday marks the 33rd annual California Coastal Cleanup Day, an opportunity to rise to the defense of the ocean and its inhabitants by removing litter from local beaches and watersheds before winter rains and storm surges can sweep it out to sea.

Dozens of sites around the North Coast, both inland and at the ocean’s edge, are among more than 870 locations chosen statewide for volunteer cleanup crews to go to work on Saturday.

Locally, they include state and county beaches along the Sonoma Coast, from Jenner to Bodega Bay, as well as public beaches up and down the Mendocino Coast.But in growing recognition of the volume of discarded litter that washes coastward from rivers and streams, dozens of inland cleanups are planned, as well. Targeted waterways include the Russian River from Ukiah to Monte Rio, the Petaluma River, Santa Rosa Creek, the Laguna de Santa Rosa and several Sonoma-area parks and preserves.

“Ideally, this is the day everybody gives back to clean waterways,” Russian Riverkeeper Executive Director Don McEnhill said.

Read more at: California Coastal Cleanup Day coming Saturday, needs volunteers in Sonoma County | The Press Democrat –

Filed under Local Organizations, Sonoma Coast, Sustainable Living

Sonoma County moves to give rural residents greater voice in local government

J.D. Morris, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Sonoma County supervisors Tuesday paved the way for creation of more regional citizens groups designed to give certain unincorporated areas a greater voice in local government and decision making.

The panels are meant to allow more neighborhood-level input and advice on such issues as roads and land-use planning, and result in recommendations to county supervisors, who are the only elected local representatives for many rural areas.

“This is really participatory democracy at its base level,” said Supervisor James Gore, pointing to his experience last year establishing a council for the Mark West area north of Santa Rosa.

While the community does not wish to incorporate, residents there do want to play a larger role in decisions shaping their community, Gore said.

Advisory councils will also help the county better manage small unincorporated communities, where supervisors become “the de facto mayor,” he said.

Supervisors Susan Gorin and Lynda Hopkins indicated they want to establish new councils along the Russian River, the Sonoma Coast and in The Springs area of Sonoma Valley. Some of the same areas — along the river and in Sonoma Valley — were once represented by appointed redevelopment committees, but those entities were dissolved in 2012 when the state eliminated redevelopment agencies.

Read more at: Sonoma County moves to give rural residents greater voice in local government | The Press Democrat

Filed under Local Organizations

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom touts California’s green economy in Sonoma County event 

Martin Espinoza, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday took to a stage in Santa Rosa before a crowd of leading North Bay environmentalists to tout activism and government policies that have made California a global leader in the green economy.

“California is a climate of hope. If you don’t like the way the world looks when you’re standing up, stand on your head, because remarkable things are happening at the local level,” Newsom said.

The former San Francisco mayor is a leading contender among Democrats running to succeed Gov. Jerry Brown next year. He gave the keynote address at Sonoma County Conservation Action’s “Grassroots Gala,” an annual event that honors local environmental leaders.

His remarks came after a tumultuous couple of weeks for the United States on the global stage, punctuated by President Donald Trump’s announcement he would pull the country, the world’s largest historic emitter of climate warming gases, out of the landmark Paris agreement on climate change.

Newsom pushed back on Trump’s contention that pivoting toward a fossil fuel-free world would irretrievably harm the U.S. economy.

“What is so wrong about de-carbonizing your economy? What’s so wrong about what California’s done? Seven years, 2.7 million jobs, 2.9 percent GDP (growth),” he said. “You remember that Goldilocks budget that Trump announced two weeks ago? It’s predicated on 3 percent growth and everyone says that’s not achievable — I say hold on, come out to California. It’s absolutely achievable.”

For many in the room, Newsom’s comments reflected the emergence of a new generation of environmental leaders pushing a movement that seeks alliances with industry. The growth and success of the renewable energy sector, they say, shows the environmental movement can both save the planet and create jobs.

Read more at: Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom touts California’s green economy in Sonoma County event | The Press Democrat

Filed under Local Organizations

Shamrock sold to Vulcan Materials

Jeff Quackenbush, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL

Petaluma-based Shamrock Materials, started six decades ago and one of the largest suppliers of concrete and paving materials to North Bay contractors, has been sold to giant Alabama-based construction-materials company.

With Shamrock, Vulcan Materials (NYSE: VMC) picked up concrete, rock, sand and gravel facilities in Sonoma, Napa and Marin counties, company spokeswoman Atisthan Roach said. That includes ready-mix plants in San Rafael, Petaluma, Santa Rosa, Cloverdale and Napa; building-materials sites in Cotati and San Rafael; and a materials depot on Landing Way along the Petaluma River.

The Shamrock deal, signed March 20, was one of three acquisitions in California and Tennessee that Birmingham, Ala.-based Vulcan closed in the first quarter of this year for $185.1 million, according to Roach and regulatory filings. Further financial details weren’t disclosed.

“This acquisition has provided us a way to get into ready-mix right there in California,” Roach said about Shamrock.

Vulcan is the nation’s largest producer of aggregate rock for construction and California’s largest asphalt supplier. The company also is a major player in supplying ready-mixed concrete in Arizona, Georgia, Maryland, New Mexico, Texas, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and the Bahamas.

Read more at: Shamrock Materials sold to Vulcan | The North Bay Business Journal

Filed under Local Organizations, Sustainable Living

State launches Sonoma Developmental Center ‘site assessment’ 

Christian Kallen, SONOMA INDEX-TRIBUNE

See the Transform SDC website for community and nonprofit input on what should be done with the SDC site and this Sonoma Land Trust article on the importance of the wildlife corridor through the site.

After what has sometimes seemed like an interminable delay, the wheels are starting to turn on the rollout toward closure of the Sonoma Develomental Center.

At least that’s how it looks now that the state Department of General Services has announced that a $2 million contract has been signed with a Bay Area engineering firm to perform a “site assessment” of the 860-acre SDC campus for use after the closure of the facility, scheduled for the end of 2018.San Francisco-based Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT) entered the contract with the state in mid-April. The first step will be a “kick-off meeting” and team introduction, with the goal to develop a project schedule and define areas of responsibility and research for WRT and its subcontractors.

That meeting was scheduled for Monday afternoon, May 15, at the Slater Building on the SDC property. A final report of the group’s assessments is due in late December, after a number of intermediary benchmarks.

1st District Supervisor Susan Gorin, who’s also on the leadership team of the Coalition to Preserve SDC, said she’s “anxious” to work with the site assessment team and help facilitate community meetings so “they can fully gauge the community’s concerns, interests in eventual reuse of the campus and constraints to development.”

Read more at: State launches Sonoma Developmental Center ‘site assessment’ | Sonoma Index-Tribune | Sonoma, CA

Filed under Habitats, Land Use, Local Organizations, Wildlife

Sonoma Clean Power, utilities face battle over energy costs

Robert Digitale, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The North Bay pioneered a new type of public energy program in California seven years ago that now appears poised to change who buys electricity for homes and businesses across large swaths of the state.The programs, of which Sonoma Clean Power was an early leader, have expanded dramatically over the past several years.

Their growth is leading experts to examine how well the programs are boosting the use of renewable electricity compared to the private utilities that formerly served the same communities.

The growth is also prompting a face-off between the public programs and California’s three biggest private utilities, including Pacific Gas & Electric. In the dispute, both sides have suggested their ratepayers are getting a bum deal in how the state has set the rules for this new era. For the public programs, the outcome has high-stakes implications because their customers could end up paying considerably more to offset the growing costs for excess power that the utilities contracted for but no longer need.

The public programs, typically known as Community Choice Aggregation, or CCA, agencies, have grown to control about 5 percent of the state’s electricity market, a new study reports. But both utilities and other experts say that number will increase markedly as other communities join the trend.

“I think everyone who’s watching this thinks that there is going to be very rapid growth in the coming years,” said Matthew Freedman, an attorney in San Francisco with the Utility Reform Network, a ratepayer advocacy group known as TURN. Some utilities, he said, have predicted that half their customers could switch to the public programs within a decade.

Read more at: Sonoma Clean Power, utilities face battle over energy costs | The Press Democrat

Filed under Climate Change & Energy, Local Organizations

Volunteers needed to clean up Santa Rosa Creek

Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The all-volunteer Clean River Alliance, which has cleared hundreds of thousands of pounds of trash from the Russian River watershed over the past three years, is enlisting help for a monthlong blitz on Santa Rosa Creek.

Each Sunday in March the nonprofit group and associated volunteers plan to tackle a different stretch of the river tributary, where recent flooding has left garbage strewn in the trees and bushes, mixed in the water and scattered along the banks.

The alliance, founded by Forestville resident Chris Brokate and sponsored by the Russian Riverkeeper, is working in conjunction with the city of Santa Rosa to get as much trash as possible out of the watershed before it can become overgrown by summer foliage or be washed downstream by additional rain, spokeswoman Robin Factor said.

High school students can earn community service hours by participating, but all volunteers should keep in mind that conditions are often steep, muddy and slippery, and some lifting is required, Factor said.

The cleanups will run Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. as follows:

March 12, Santa Rosa Creek at Willowside Road. Meet at the bridge.

March 19, Santa Rosa Creek near Stony Point Road. Meet at a Place to Play city park, 2375 W. Third St. in Santa Rosa, near the pond.

March 26, Santa Rosa Creek near Pierson Street, downtown Santa Rosa. Meet at a Place to Play.

Details are available on Facebook (Clean River Alliance) or by calling Robin Factor, Clean River Alliance Santa Rosa, at 707- 293-8050.

Source: Volunteers needed to clean up Santa Rosa Creek | The Press Democrat

Filed under Local Organizations, Water

Sonoma County open space planners launch broadest, most extensive planning effort ever 

J.D. Morris, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Open space planning public meetings – All meetings are 6-8 p.m.

March 14: Healdsburg Community Center, Healdsburg

March 15: El Molino High School library, Forestville

March 21: Petaluma Community Center, Petaluma

March 29: Santa Rosa Veterans Memorial Building dining room, Santa Rosa

March 30: Finnish American Home Association – Heritage Hall, Sonoma

More information: sonomaopenspace.org/vital-lands

Hoping to set a commanding agenda for conserving its landscapes, Sonoma County’s taxpayer-funded Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District is launching its broadest, most extensive planning effort ever to guide its work for the next 15 years.

The open space district on Tuesday will mark the start of its so-called Vital Lands Initiative. Community outreach will include five public meetings throughout the county this month as officials gather input on how best to steward the county’s preserved farmland and natural spaces.

It’s the district’s most ambitious planning project in more than a decade — and likely its most wide-ranging such undertaking ever, according to general manager Bill Keene.

“It’s in all aspects of our work in protecting agricultural land, greenbelts, scenic hillsides, recreation, natural resources and watersheds,” Keene said. “It’s really going to cover everything we do.

Read more at: Sonoma County open space planners launch broadest, most extensive planning effort ever | The Press Democrat

Filed under Land Use, Local Organizations

Thousands gather at Sonoma County Fairgrounds to show another world possible 

Julie Johnson, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

While thousands of people protested at airports across the country Sunday against President Donald Trump’s executive order barring people from several predominantly Muslim nations from entry into the United States, people crammed shoulder to shoulder into Garrett Hall at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds for a number of different reasons.

They signed up to volunteer for environmental groups, discuss politics with military veterans, write encouraging letters to refugees across the world, read about composting food and ask about affordable-housing advocacy programs.

“I want to fight the good fight right now,” said Tanya Turneaure, a Sebastopol resident and middle school teacher, who watched her 16-year-old daughter write “we’re thinking of you” on a note for people in Greek refugee camps.

Sunday was the first North Bay Community Engagement Fair, a free event with two goals: Increase civic participation and encourage organizations to collaborate.

The hall, a room with official capacity for 1,200 people, was packed from noon to 5 p.m. and loud with the din of conversations. Organizers enlisted 103 organizations to staff information tables, hand out pamphlets and encourage people to get involved.

The event was organized by a coalition of local groups under the name Another World is Possible, which formed last year and launched with a voter engagement event in October geared toward youth and minority communities.

Read more at: Thousands gather at Sonoma County Fairgrounds to show another world possible | The Press Democrat

Filed under Local Organizations, Sustainable Living

Narrow defeat for Sonoma County parks measure likely to prompt another try 

Derek Moore, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Sonoma County voters came tantalizingly close in 2016 to approving a sales tax measure that arguably would have led to the most sweeping changes to the county’s parks system in its 50-year history.

Measure J supporters said the half-cent sales tax measure, which would have generated an estimated $95 million over a 10-year term, was needed to fund an overhaul of the parks system, including a vast expansion of public lands offering new recreational opportunities.

Under this vision, county-owned properties, including those with jaw-dropping views along the Sonoma Coast, would fully open to the public. Miles of new trails would come online, amenities such as campgrounds would be installed and aging infrastructure at existing parks would be spruced up or repaired.

Those lofty plans stalled after Measure J went came up just shy of the required two-thirds majority in the November election. It failed by 1,082 votes out of nearly 69,800 cast on the initiative.

“Obviously, it’s a shame that it didn’t pass and that it came so close,” Caryl Hart, the county’s Regional Parks director, said this month.

Given the narrow margin of defeat, Hart and other Measure J supporters are now considering whether to go back to voters in 2017 with another tax measure.

Read more at: Year in Review: Narrow defeat for Sonoma County parks measure likely to prompt another try | The Press Democrat

Filed under Land Use, Local Organizations