Tag Archives: Sonoma County Regional Parks

Trails Council sustains hardy volunteer corps for Sonoma County Regional Parks 

Glen Martin, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Sonoma County Trails Council

If you’ve hiked a newly built or reconstructed trail in one of Sonoma County’s regional parks, there’s a good chance Ken Wells had a hand in it.

Wells, director of the Sonoma County Trails Council, a key partner for the county park agency, is a connoisseur of the grunt work that goes into carving paths for hikers, bikers and horse riders in rugged terrain.He has been toiling in one capacity or another for the trails group for 25 years, building trails, supervising crews and goading people into volunteering for local parks.

“Most of my work consists of putting people together with projects that need doing,” said Wells, 63.

At one time, such public park maintenance was carried out by government crews — county, state or federal. These days, much of the burden falls on volunteers. And that’s not such a bad thing, said Wells, who thinks that support for regional parks has grown because local people are more heavily invested in stewardship.Indeed, most if not all of the park trail work in Sonoma County occurs either under the direct auspices or with the support of the Trails Council, which is also marking its 50th anniversary this year. Council crews regularly labor at Helen Putnam and Taylor Mountain Regional Parks, putting in new trail segments and rehabilitating existing ones. Overall, more than 150 miles of trail traverse county parks, with dozens of additional miles planned for existing and future sites.

Read more at: Trails Council sustains hardy volunteer corps for Sonoma County Regional Parks | The Press Democrat –

Filed under Sustainable Living, Transportation

Future of North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park under consideration

Derek Moore, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Thursday’s workshop, which will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Bennett Valley Guild Hall on Grange Road, is the first step in developing a master plan for the park, which is about 3 miles up Sonoma Mountain Road from Bennett Valley Road and abuts Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen.

In the two years since Sonoma County opened a regional park on the north face of Sonoma Mountain, countless visitors have fallen in love with the site’s trails and phenomenal views.

But some visitors almost assuredly have opinions on what they would change at the 820-acre park to improve the experience.

The time to make those concerns known is now.County park officials are hosting a public workshop in Santa Rosa on Thursday to begin charting the long-term management of what officially is known as the North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve.

Do you want more trails at the park? What about allowing dogs?Or, how about the prospect of overnight camping on the nearly 2,500-foot summit?

“There’s basically no plans for it yet,” Karen Davis-Brown, a regional parks planner, said of the North Sonoma Mountain park.

Read more at: Future of North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park under consideration | The Press Democrat

Filed under Land Use

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

Master plan for Sonoma’s Maxwell Farms Park gets close

Christian Kallen, SONOMA INDEX-TRIBUNE

Regional Parks Maxwell Farms Plan Update

The future of Maxwell Park got another hearing Wednesday night in a well-attended and lively meeting of locals, interested parties and personnel from Sonoma County Regional Parks. Though billed as “Workshop #2” it followed by over a year the first such meeting, held Jan. 15 2015, and by 10 months a second workshop held at El Verano Elementary last April.

Those meetings were primarily about getting community input on the sorts of features resident would like to see in the 80-acre park, located between the City of Sonoma and Verano.

“It took us longer than expected to marshal the resources to move this plan forward, and allowed more time for researching background information and talking with the different interest groups,” said project planner Scott Wilkinson. He also cited the county’s work toward a Moorland Park on the site of Andy Lopez’ death in 2013 as shifting resources.

This time Wilkinson and Steve Ehret, also of Regional Parks, came with three developed maps for the property that each included the major features the community requested – and a large open-space area taking up almost half the park, in deference to the so-called “conservation easement” that accompanied the parcel when it was deeded to the county.

Though the fact that the county now owns the land essentially voids the easement – the county apparently cannot legally have an easement on land it owns itself, according to Ehret – that didn’t alter the commitment to the “spirit of the easement,” he said.

Read more at: Master plan for Sonoma’s Maxwell Field Park gets | Sonoma Index-Tribune | Sonoma, CA

Filed under Land Use, Local Organizations

Plans discussed for new Sonoma Valley Regional Park lands

Alec Peters, KENWOOD PRESS

About 25 people attended a Sonoma County Regional Parks meeting on Oct. 28 to put in their two cents about potential uses for two properties that are now part of Sonoma Valley Regional Park in Glen Ellen.

The properties are adjacent to the Sonoma Highway access for Sonoma Valley Regional Park.

On one side is what’s known as the 29-acre Curreri property, and the other is the 41-acre SDC41 property. Regional Parks officials are in the process of creating a master plan that will create trails and other recreational activities on the new additions, and figure out how they would integrate with the rest of Sonoma Valley Regional Park.

“We want your input,” said First District Supervisor Susan Gorin as she kicked off the meeting in front of the small crowd at the Kenwood Fire House, many of whom were neighbors of the Glen Ellen park.

The SDC41 piece was once part of the state-run Sonoma Developmental Center, but declared surplus property in the 1990s. Open Space bought the property for $600,000 in 2007. The land was then transferred to Regional Parks. The 41 acres consists of oak woodlands and grasslands, some wetland areas, and also provides some panoramic views of the valley.

The Curreri property was bought by the Sonoma Land Trust for $1.1 million in 2014, and then immediately moved to Regional Parks. The area has similar landscape characteristics as SDC41, and also includes a pond, which helps provide a habitat for such species as the Pacific pond turtle, California red legged frog, grasshopper sparrow, and Great Blue heron.

Map of Sonoma Valley Regional Park The newest additions to Sonoma Valley Regional Park border its east and west sides, increasing the park by 70 acres. (Source: Sonoma County Regional Parks)

Another aspect of the new lands is increased protection for an officially designated Sonoma Valley Wildlife Corridor, which provides a crucial linkage for wildlife movement between Sonoma Mountain and the Mayacamas range.

Discussed among the group at the Oct. 28 meeting were potential uses of the new properties, such as the possible locations of trails for hiking, biking, and horses, and educational activities that might include an educational center.

Participants emphasized the need to protect the wildlife corridor and the pond, the need for reforestation in some areas, the removal of barbed wire fencing and invasive weed species on the Curreri land, and a general focus on native land management practice.

All were interested in the potential of Regional Parks acquiring further SDC property that is next to Sonoma Valley Regional Park, especially an area that contains Suttonfield Lake.

Regional Parks staff will take the input from the public and use it as they develop a master plan. Environmental and other studies need to be done, and future public meetings held. It is hoped that approval of the master plan would go in front of the Board of Supervisors in the fall of 2016, with trail construction beginning in the Spring of 2017.

Regional Parks is also preparing a master plan for a 247-acre addition to Hood Mountain Regional Park, known as the Lawson Addition. The Open Space District purchased the property in 2005 for $1,160,000, and then transferred title to Regional Parks in 2014.

A public workshop on the Lawson Addition master plan will take place Wednesday, Nov. 18, 6 to 8 p.m., also at the Kenwood Fire House.

Source: The Kenwood Press – Plans discussed for new Sonoma Valley Regional Park lands

Filed under Land Use, Local Organizations

Public input sought on proposed Timber Cove Trail

Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Sonoma County park planners on Thursday will unveil the most recent proposal for a coastal bike and pedestrian trail connecting Fort Ross State Historic Park with Stillwater Cove.

A public workshop at Fort Ross School on Thursday night will provide the second opportunity this year for residents to weigh in on plans for the 3-mile trail. The path is expected mostly to follow Highway 1 through the Timber Cove region, using existing public rights of ways. Opportunities exist for some bluff-top trail as well, according to Mark Cleveland, a senior planner with Sonoma County Regional Parks.

The Timber Cove Trail, though still several years away from being funded and built, will help stitch together a patchwork of publicly owned and managed lands including Fort Ross, Stillwater Cove Regional Park and adjacent Salt Point State Park, where other trail systems already exist.

It also will fill in a stretch of California Coastal Trail proposed to run the entire 1,200-mile length of the state’s coastline.Park planners conducted a public meeting in March designed to narrow design and alignment options that will be presented Thursday night. The process, including public feedback, is part of a feasibility study funded by a $200,000 grant from the California Coastal Conservancy.Thursday’s meeting begins at 6 p.m. at Fort Ross School, 30600 Seaview Road.

More information is available at http://parks.sonomacounty.ca.gov/About_Us/Planning_Updates.aspx.

Cleveland also can be contacted at 565-2041 or by email at Mark.Cleveland@sonoma-county.org.

Source: Public input sought on proposed Timber Cove Trail | The Press Democrat

Filed under Land Use, Sonoma Coast, Transportation

Sonoma County grapples with providing public access to open space

Brett Wilkison, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors today is set to consider a financial policy that seeks to break the fiscal logjams that have delayed public access to thousands of acres of taxpayer-protected open space.

For park agencies looking to open up those lands, the policy would allow for broader use of an estimated $41 million in county open space funds over the next 18 years.

The central change would explicitly make available that money — drawn from a share of the budget for the county’s Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District — to build key improvements, including parking lots, restrooms, trails, fencing, signs and other capital projects geared toward enabling initial public access.

via Sonoma County grapples with providing public access to open space | The Press Democrat.

Filed under Land Use, Local Organizations