Category Archives: 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

Annual tree planting by Forest Unlimited at St. Dorothy’s Rest in Camp Meeker

Forest Unlimited, SONOMA COUNTY  GAZETTE

Nature lovers looking to kick off 2017 with a good deed might consider volunteering to plant redwood seedlings for Forest Unlimited’s annual reforestation project. The Forestville-based nonprofit is dedicated to protecting and enhancing forests and watersheds in Sonoma County. In addition to acting as a watchdog for local logging operations, its members have been organizing tree plantings at select locations around Sonoma County for over 20 years.

This year, the group will plant seedlings Friday and Saturday, January 6th and 7th, at St. Dorothy’s Rest, 160 St Dorothy Ave, Camp Meeker, a protected 580-acre retreat center originally intended for terminally ill children to spend time in a healing environment of a “magical” forest community. Most of the land that was acquired recently had been badly logged. The redwood planting will help reforest these areas.

“It’s really a community effort,” said Carl Wahl, a volunteer for Forest Unlimited who managed the project for over fifteen years. Wahl said Forest Unlimited tries to choose areas that are protected from development and logging by conservation easements, so that volunteers aren’t planting trees that “could be cut down in 40 years”. They also look for places where the redwoods and oaks they plant will thrive.

Read more at: Annual Tree Planting by Forest Unlimited at St. Dorothy’s Rest in Camp Meeker

Filed under Forests, Local Organizations

River float brings ideas to surface

Tony Landucci, SONOMA WEST TIMES & NEWS

Almost 100 people took part in the Splash Mob event over the weekend, the conclusion of a nine day trip down the Russian River, starting at Lake Mendocino. Conservation nonprofit LandPaths and Russian Riverkeeper hosted the Headwaters to Ocean Descent with Supervisor James Gore.

In the cool morning air at the beach in Monte Rio the first half of the two-day Splash Mob launched kayaks and several canoes into the chilly water as vacationers and beach goes watched. On Sunday, many faces were familiar but new people replaced the ones who could not ride for the whole paddle.

The stream of about 40 boats cruised the water down to Casini Ranch  Family Campground in Jenner where many camped before the final day of paddling to mouth of the river. While the trip was almost entirely manageable for beginners, strong winds pushed back on paddlers as they powered their way under the Coast Highway bridge near where Highways 1 and 116 meet. The day went without incident and everyone made it to the shore safely.

Along the way, conversations were held as long as boaters could stick together. As skill levels and stamina were tested, the groups mingled, drifted apart and came back together. Backgrounds varied but many on the trip were in someway connected to the river through their jobs and education or were just interested in what the event had to offer. Biologists answered questions about ecology while water district workers explained regulations and policies, among other conversations.

Read more at: River float brings ideas to surface – Sonoma West Times and News: News

Filed under Local Organizations, Water, Wildlife

Russian River trippers to check on River’s condition on multi-day trek

Bureaucrats, property owners and environmental activists will float down the Russian River next week to check on the River’s condition and imagine what it might look like in the next 150 years.

“It’s a pretty ambitious event,” said Healdsburg resident and Russian Riverkeeper Executive Director Don McEnhill, who will be one of the invited paddlers when the planned 10-day River trek begins next Wednesday at Lake Mendocino in Mendocino County.

The group of attendees includes federal, state and regional policy makers, Native American tribal representatives, and stakeholders from business, agriculture, energy, timber and the arts all floating down the River from Mendocino to Jenner in three separate trips over the next eight weeks.

Called the Russian River Confluence, next week’s paddle is limited to invitees only but a public participation is scheduled for October when the paddlers will travel from Forestville to Jenner on Oct. 7, 8 and 9. A middle reach trip from Cloverdale to Forestville is scheduled for Sept. 7, 8 and 9.

A key goal of the confluence effort is to get the Russian River and its tributaries off a federal list of water bodies whose beneficial uses are designated as “impaired.”

Russian River impairments include pollution from urban and agricultural run-off, and high bacteria counts attributed to sources including dairy waste, residential septic systems and homeless camps.

The North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board is currently drafting a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) action plan that will target pollution sources and impose regulations to restore and protect the River’s beneficial uses as a source of drinking water, irrigation and recreation.

“There are many water bodies around the country that have undertaken similar actions and have gotten removed from listings, which is a laudable goal,” said Healdsburg’s Fourth District County Supervisor James Gore. “It gives you an achievable mission,” said Gore, who has spearheaded the watershed confluence gathering that will culminate with a one-day summit meeting next May.

The River trip and the May summit will bring together “not just the fisheries and the water quality aspects and the water supply but the idea of idea of arts and culture and the different components of the River and the watershed itself that we need to celebrate if we want to regenerate it,” said Gore.

“We need to have a plan to remove, through active conservation, all the impairments throughout the Russian River,” said Gore. “If we can do that we can say we have a clean river.”

Representatives from county government entities such as the Economic Development Board, Regional Parks, the Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, and the Sonoma County Water Agency are invited next week along with non-governmental groups including Russian Riverkeeper and LandPaths, the nonprofit that is providing the boats.

Public participation opens on Oct. 7 “with hundreds if not a thousand people floating together out to Jenner,” said Gore.

“The goal is to storytell with a wide variety of people to bring out those lessons of where we are currently as a river system and as a watershed and where need to be,” said Gore.

Source: Russian River trippers to experience watershed on multi-day trek

Filed under Local Organizations, Water

Why California’s northern coast doesn’t look like Atlantic City

Steve Lopez, LOS ANGELES TIMES

All week long, the ultimate destination was the Sonoma County coast.That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy knocking around Tolowa Dunes, the Smith River and the Lost Coast last week.

Even though I’m a native Californian, I’d done very little exploring up there where the misty shore is rocky, elk run wild and giant redwoods creep down to the sea.

But I was eager to get to the place where the state’s coastal preservation movement took root four decades ago in a David-and-Goliath battle, and I knew I’d be meeting some of the visionaries to whom all Californians owe a debt of gratitude. Their story and the lessons learned are more important than ever, given project proposals big and small that could forever alter the California coast.

I knew I’d be meeting some of the visionaries to whom all Californians owe a debt of gratitude.Let me set the scene first.In the early 1960s, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. planned and began building a power plant at Bodega Head, one of the most jaw-dropping stretches of coast on the planet.

Meanwhile, developers were mapping plans for a monster residential project just north of Jenner at Sea Ranch, where sheep grazed between coastal bluffs and stunning pebble beaches.Those projects had the support of local officials, who saw new streams of revenue.

But a small group of residents saw something else: the destruction of paradise.

They believed there would be irreparable harm to fisheries and the magnificent coastal habitat. In their minds, there’d be another crime, as well: the privatization of a public treasure.

The late Bill Kortum, a veterinarian from Petaluma, refused to let it happen.

When I got to Bodega Bay, I met with Kortum’s wife, Lucy, and his son, Sam, along with others who had lobbied, biked, hiked, knocked on doors and circulated petitions all  those years ago to save the coast.

Read more at: Why California’s northern coast doesn’t look like Atlantic City – LA Times

Filed under Land Use, Local Organizations, Sonoma Coast

Trash Is getting costly!

Vesta Copestakes, SONOMA COUNTY GAZETTE

I’m old enough to remember before recycling where everything you didn’t want went into the trash can and the local trash service hauled it away…to the dump…a.k.a. landfill which describes a hole or valley everything got dumped into until it filled up.

Then recycling came along and we sorted our trash by category and felt good knowing it would have a second life. Trash men would throw the contents of our bins into trash/recycling trucks divided into categories.  “Single stream” came along about the same time trash trucks were designed to pick up trash mechanically…no people jumping off and on the truck as it rolled down the road. Recycling now gets sorted at the facility owned by the trash company – not us sorting it at home.

We trust our trash service to take care of what we throw away. We complain when they raise our rates, but out-of-sigh…out-of-mind applies here.

Several Sonoma County cities have contracts with local provider Ratto Group – known as North Bay Corp., or Redwood Empire Disposal, and other names depending upon the city it serves.  They are known for their low rates, but also for their less-than-ideal service as well. Sometimes the two go hand-in hand.

“When a complaint was made to the State, late last year, Sonoma County Environmental Health did an inspection of North Bay Corp recycling facility, and issued a Cease and Desist order after finding the facility out of compliance and lacking the appropriate permits.

The Cease and Desist order, issued last fall, was intended to shut down the North Bay Corp. recycling facility on Standish Avenue where all North Bay Corp. affiliates deliver single stream, or blue can materials. For years, the facility skirted the requirement for a Solid Waste Facility Permit by claiming that the residual, or contamination level, was under 10%. But following the complaint, the subsequent inspection determined that nearly 30% of the incoming material was garbage, and not recycling.

The company continues to receive daily fines as they seek to legalize their operations on Standish Avenue.

More recently, the Santa Rosa deputy city manager hired R3 Consulting Group to do a Performance Review of North Bay Corporation, and what they found revealed problems company-wide.

Read more at: Trash Is Getting Costly!

Filed under Land Use, Local Organizations, Sustainable Living

Op-Ed: Measure AA is vital for future of the bay 

Dave Koehler, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The San Francisco Bay defines our region — a shared natural resource that unites residents and visitors with its breathtaking beauty. The truth is, the bay is highly threatened by pollution and sea-level rise. Thousands of acres of wetlands must be restored because miles of bay shoreline face increasing flood threats from extreme weather and rising seas. If we are going to pass on a healthy, beautiful bay to our children and grandchildren, we need to come together and act now to protect and restore it.

For the first time in our history, the entire Bay Area has an opportunity to financially support the San Francisco Bay and make it healthier and safer for future generations. Measure AA on the June 7 ballot in all nine Bay Area counties is a small parcel tax that generates big benefits. For only $12 per year per parcel, amounting to $1 per month, Measure AA will raise $500 million over 20 years to restore wetlands around the bay — including in Sonoma County — that will provide habitat for fish and wildlife and filter out pollutants from the water. These wetlands — such as the Sonoma Land Trust’s own Sears Point Wetland Restoration project along Highway 37 — also provide a natural barrier against flooding and offer recreational open space for all of us.

North Bay counties will receive millions from Measure AA for essential wetland restoration projects. The allegation made by some that these counties — and Sonoma County in particular — will receive less than our fair share of the $500 million in funding is simply inaccurate. Measure AA has many built-in provisions to ensure the funds are used where they are most needed. Sonoma County has thousands of acres of wetlands restoration projects ready to go, and our projects will be highly competitive with other regions.

Of all the anti-AA arguments, the claim that the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority is not answerable to the public completely distorts the truth. The restoration Authority board was set up under state law and is made up entirely of local elected officials. In other words, they are the same county supervisors and city council members who we rely on and interact with every day. Each region of the bay has a designated representative on the board. The current North Bay representative is Supervisor Keith Caldwell from Napa.

Our own Supervisor Susan Gorin has expressed interest in being nominated to the authority for the North Bay seat when it opens up for a term change. Measure AA also includes an additional level of openness and accountability by establishing a citizen oversight committee whose sole job is to make sure the authority is following the law and being transparent with its funding decisions.

Measure AA is endorsed by the most diverse coalition the Bay Area has ever seen, including local and national environmental organizations, leading businesses and organized labor and mayors and other elected officials, from Gov. Jerry Brown to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and Reps. Jared Huffman and Mike Thompson — more than 600 groups and individuals in all. They understand Measure AA will bring us critical bay improvements for people and wildlife, and green infrastructure that will help protect our cities from flooding.

Sonoma Land Trust is campaigning hard for Measure AA because we have confidence in its safeguards and believe it is our best chance to fund the restoration of large sections of the Sonoma and northern bayshore before ocean levels rise even higher. We trust you won’t believe the scare tactics of the anti-tax groups. Please free to reach out to us if you have additional questions.

Dave Koehler is the Executive Director of the Sonoma Land Trust.

Source: Close to Home: Measure AA is vital for future of the bay | The Press Democrat

Filed under Habitats, Land Use, Local Organizations, Water, Wildlife