Tag Archives: conservation

Santa Rosa meadow up for sale by Sonoma County over neighbors’ objections 


At the end of Beverly Way, a small and secluded street in northeastern Santa Rosa, lies the entrance to a grassy meadow beloved by local residents who for decades have wandered through the open field and among the massive oak trees beyond.

Visitors to the Sonoma County-owned land are welcomed by a prominent sign just beyond the street that declares the property part of the surrounding Paulin Creek Open Space Preserve, a more than 40-acre swath of land situated south of the former county hospital complex and above the Hillcrest neighborhood near Franklin Park.

But the meadow’s inclusion in a forthcoming county land deal — the sale of 82 acres to a local developer whose plans include hundreds of new housing units — has neighbors alarmed that the county is, perhaps unwittingly, turning over the field to housing construction.

A 16-foot banner recently staked down by Beverly Way neighbors speaks to that concern.“The county is selling our meadow to an apartment developer,” it proclaims, encouraging like-minded individuals to help prevent “the destruction of our preserve.”

Read more at: Santa Rosa meadow up for sale by Sonoma County over neighbors’ objections | The Press Democrat

Filed under Land Use

Public open space outside Santa Rosa grows with deal for Mark West Creek land


Generations of kids and other nature lovers will continue to enjoy outdoor experiences at a Mark West Creek ranch northeast of Santa Rosa under a new conservation deal that maintains public access to the property in perpetuity.

More broadly, open space advocates say preservation of the 124-acre Rancho Mark West builds upon a legacy of protecting land from development in the sensitive environmental area while offering the public more opportunities to engage with nature a short distance away from Santa Rosa.

“We hope to be able to walk people from Santa Rosa to Rancho Mark West to spend the night. That would be a pretty incredible opportunity,” said Craig Anderson, executive director of the nonprofit group LandPaths.

LandPaths will continue to operate In Our Own Backyard, Owl Camp and other popular outdoor programs for kids at the St. Helena Road ranch under an updated conservation easement that protects public access to the site.

Read more: Public open space outside Santa Rosa grows with | The Press Democrat

Filed under Land Use, Wildlife

Conservationist Zeke Grader, advocate for fish, dies

Steve Rubenstein, SFGATE

Zeke Grader, a lifelong conservationist who loved wild fish, wild rivers and the good fight necessary to protect them, has died. He was 68.

“You would probably not be eating a wild California salmon today if it were not for Zeke,” said his friend Tim Sloane, the executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations. “He was not afraid of speaking truth to power. He wasn’t afraid of anyone.”

Mr. Grader, 68, died Monday night of pancreatic cancer at a San Francisco hospice.

From 1976 until this summer, Mr. Grader held the executive director position for the federation, the largest trade group of commercial fishermen on the West Coast. He represented commercial fishermen in their efforts to keep streams and rivers flowing, the San Francisco Bay healthy, and wild salmon and other native fish plentiful and viable.

In the constant battle over California water, Mr. Grader frequently fought with agricultural and commercial interests that he believed were laying claim to more than their fair share.

He worked on such projects as dismantling dams, protecting habitat, assisting out-of-work fishermen and maintaining critical water flows. He took on timber harvesters, suction dredge miners and petroleum polluters.

“You cannot overstate how much he accomplished in legislation and policy,” Sloane said. “There would be no commercial salmon industry in California if not for his efforts.

”Former Monterey congressman and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta praised Mr. Grader for his “critical leadership in the fight for strong stewardship of our ocean resources. … His common sense, his total devotion to those he represents and his commitment to getting the job done have given all of us courage and inspiration.

”His friend and fellow conservationist Patricia Schifferle said Mr. Grader “wasn’t afraid to take on big agriculture and industry to protect our resources.”

“Because of him, we have protections in San Francisco Bay and in our estuaries,” said Schifferle, the director of Pacific Advocates in Truckee. “He was fair-minded when he came to the table. But he was not afraid of a fight. He was a man who stood up for fish.”

A lawyer by training who wound up making the king salmon his primary client, Mr. Grader was a short, blond, stocky man who loved good food, scally caps, vintage cars and strolls on Northern California beaches with family, friends or his beloved cocker spaniel, Emily.

He spoke plainly and bluntly, and one friend said Mr. Grader had an unparalleled “BS detector.” His favorite food was salmon, although, Sloane said, he would settle for petrale sole.

He put in long hours, and his friends knew that he was often too busy working to be bothered. If you wanted to be sure to catch Mr. Grader on the phone, Sloane said, you had to call him around sunrise, when his workday started.

Mr. Grader, the son of a fish broker, was a native of Fort Bragg in Mendocino County. He spent much of his childhood on the Fort Bragg docks, helping fishermen unload their catches. He was a graduate of Sonoma State University and the University of San Francisco School of Law and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

A wild fish was worth saving, Mr. Grader believed, not just for the fisherman who caught it but for its own sake, as part of the natural order.“

I think part of it is standing your ground, saying what you mean,” Mr. Grader said to a friend not long before he died, in describing his way of representing fish and fishermen. “Don’t mince your words. Know what you’re talking about. Stay firm. Don’t back down.”

He is survived by his wife, Sausalito attorney Lois Prentice. At his request, there will be no funeral. Plans for a memorial service are pending.

Source: Conservationist Zeke Grader, advocate for fish, dies – SFGate

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Sonoma Coast, Wildlife