Tag Archives: native plants

Windsor looks to extend the life of its urban growth boundary

Clark Mason, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Environmental groups, including the Greenbelt Alliance, support Windsor’s proposal, although they said the town should consider charging developers to offset the loss of agricultural lands and protect them elsewhere in the town’s jurisdiction.

Almost 20 years ago, Windsor voters approved an urban growth boundary designed to keep a greenbelt and discourage sprawl. Now they are being asked to do it again.

The Town Council last week scheduled a special election for Nov. 7 to extend the life of the boundary encircling the town for another 22 years — until 2040 — with slight modifications.

“I’m really proud that this boundary has held for 20 years and that it will basically hold for 22 more. That’s 42 years,” Mayor Debora Fudge said of the expected enactment by voters.

This time around, the council is asking voters not only to reaffirm the boundary, but slightly expand it by adding 22 acres of agricultural land south of Shiloh Road to the town’s future jurisdiction.

Town Council members say they want to accommodate two existing Windsor businesses with expansion plans.

“It’s to keep our valuable business partners in Windsor,” Fudge said.

Read more at: Windsor looks to extend the life of its urban growth boundary | The Press Democrat

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Land Use

Bill McNamara is Glen Ellen’s ‘Indiana Jones’ of rare plants 

Meg McConahey, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

“When the plants go extinct, the animals that depend on them go extinct. And it’s completely ignored,” [McNamara] said. “Most biologists who are aware of this are convinced that by the end of the century, if current trends continue, we will lose half of all animals and half of all plants will be gone.”

For a onetime landscaper from California, it was a Cinderella moment — standing beneath the glass vaulted ceiling of the Edwardian Lindley Hall in London, accepting one of the world’s highest honors in horticulture.

The crowd that applauded American Bill McNamara as he accepted the prestigious Veitch Medal from the Royal Horticultural Society on Feb. 22, included finely dressed members of England’s titled gentry and some of the biggest names in the botanical realm over which Great Britain still rules.

“It was such a big honor, it was a shock,” said McNamara, now comfortably back in his bluejeans at Quarryhill Botanical Garden, a refuge for rare and endangered Asian plants that he gathered himself from seed in wild and remote corners of China. In just 30 years, a mere baby in the world of botanical gardens, Quarryhill has come to be considered one of the most significant collections of its kind in the world, numbering close to 2,000 species plants in their natural form, unchanged by man through hybridization.

Read more at: Bill McNamara is Glen Ellen’s ‘Indiana Jones’ of rare plants | The Press Democrat

Filed under Habitats, Land Use

With spring wildflowers, pipevine swallowtail butterflies emerge in Sonoma County 

Jeanne Wirka, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The explosion of wildflowers throughout March and April ushers in a favorite Sonoma County phenomenon — the emergence of the pipevine swallowtail butterflies (Battus philanor).

While they represent just one of many pollinators now visiting our nectar-rich fields, these black and iridescent blue lovelies stand out. They are large and slow enough that we humans can easily follow their progress as they visit flower after flower in search of nectar. The tiny scales on their dark wings catch the light, reflecting blue metallic hues above and displaying bright orange spots underneath.

And, if we know when and where to look, we can track their entire life cycle during the coming months.

Read more at: With spring wildflowers, pipevine swallowtail butterflies emerge in Sonoma County | The Press Democrat

Filed under Wildlife

It’s wildflower time in Sonoma County

Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

List of guided wildflower hikes

It’s early yet, but splashes of color that have recently appeared amid bright grasslands and shaded local woodlands tell of glorious weeks to come, as spring takes hold and this year’s crop of wildflowers bloom into life.

Even in a region with the comparatively temperate climate we enjoy on the North Coast, the shift into wildflower season somehow offers reassurances that the harsh days of winter are behind us. The promise and potential of foliage that will soon sprout blossoms inspires us to contemplate new beginnings, while the plants that already have opened and spread their delicate petals can’t help but charm.

“It’s so delicious to see the flowers,” said one avid fan, retired Santa Rosa High School Spanish teacher Phil Weil. “I get very excited.”

Read more at: It’s wildflower time in Sonoma County | The Press Democrat

Filed under Local Organizations, Wildlife

Historical extent of oaks in Sonoma County

Arthur Dawson, ENCYCLOPEDIA OF EARTH

Oaks are intricately tied to the human history of Sonoma County, California. The impressive size of individual trees, and the extent and beauty of the lowland groves are common themes in our county’s historical records. Early writers often compared the valleys where oaks grew to a park, with open spaces between the trees and little understory . This is a testament to the natural vigor of the trees themselves, and to the stewardship of native peoples, who had been tending the land here for thousands of years.

Quotations from early California settlers

“We passed through an extremely large roblar (trees very tall and thick) . . . running 3 leagues [8 miles]east to west, and a league and a half [four miles] north to south” — Jose Altimira, founder of the Sonoma Mission, describing Sonoma Valley in 1823.

“the valleys are . . . sprinkled with oak trees, and it seems ever as if we were about to enter a forest which we never reach, for in the distance the oaks, though really far apart, appear to grow in dark and heavy masses” — Frank Marryat, describing Sonoma Valley in 1850.

Oak landscape as first recorded

The Spanish term “roblar,” commonly used in Mexican California, is not really conveyed by the English words “forest,” or “grove.” An “oak-dominated landscape” is probably close, if we imagine a place on the floor of a valley where oaks are prominent among a mosaic of grasslands, wetlands, and riparian corridors (see map on the following page). Within a roblar, oaks grow in varying densities, from savannah to denser woodlands. Historically, the roblars of Sonoma County were likely dominated by Valley oaks (Q. lobata) and their hybrids, though blue, black, Oregon and coast live oaks (Q. douglasii, kelloggii, garryana, and agrifolia) were also part of the mix.

Read more at Historical extent of oaks, Sonoma County, California.

Filed under Forests, Wildlife

Sonoma County Updates Stream Protection Zoning

Press Release, County of Sonoma

The Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department announced it will hold an informational public workshop in Santa Rosa to seek input on proposed amendments to the Zoning Code to incorporate existing General Plan policies. Stream setbacks were established in the adopted Area and Specific Plans and in the General Plan 2020. Zoning code changes will not result in any new setbacks, not previously adopted.

What: Informational Public Workshop to seek input on proposed amendments to the Zoning Code to incorporate existing General Plan Policies

When: Wednesday, May 22, 20134:00 pm to 6:00 pm

Where: Sonoma County Permit and Resource Management Department
2550 Ventura Avenue, Santa Rosa CA 95403

Zoning requirements for properties with streams will be amended to be consistent with the Sonoma County General Plan 2020, any applicable Area Plan and the County’s existing Building and Grading ordinances.

via Sonoma County Updates Stream Protection Zoning For Consistency with General Plan 2020 | Press Releases | County of Sonoma.

Filed under Land Use, Water, Wildlife