Tag Archives: trails

New Oakmont bike-pedestrian trail may solve long-simmering access dispute

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A new path nearing completion in Oakmont will soon link the retirement community in east Santa Rosa to Trione-Annadel State Park, and in the process may help solve a long-simmering access dispute.

The 400-foot-long gravel trail is designed to allow bicycle riders and pedestrians to skirt a piece of private property over which the city once held an easement frequently used by the public.

The new path runs parallel to that driveway, links up with city property once used as a wastewater treatment plant and creates a continuous link between Stone Bridge Drive and Channel Drive on the northern side of Annadel.

“We’ve totally bypassed the private property with this path,” said Ken Wells, executive director of the Sonoma Trails Council, which is building the trail with 36 yards of gravel and a lot of volunteer labor from Oakmont residents.

The trail should open as soon as the area has five solid days of warm weather to help the material set, Wells said.

If the city designates a recreational trail across its property – which it is expected to do later this month – the city property and the Oakmont trail together could create a public trail that will not only allow Oakmont residents to access the park but help cyclists stay off busy Highway 12.

“It’s really a good example of the city working with a community group to come up with a creative solution,” said Mayor Chris Coursey, who rode past the path on his bike Thursday afternoon.

Read more at: New Oakmont trail may solve long-simmering access dispute | The Press Democrat

Filed under Sustainable Living, Transportation

Winter is prime time for birdwatching in Northern California

Tracy Salcedo, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

When winter strips the leaves from the Bay Area’s deciduous oaks, it does more than bring more light to a dark season. It also enables those enchanted by birds a better chance to see them, count them, and appreciate them.

This improved visibility is one of the reasons popular and productive citizens’ science birding events, such as the Christmas Bird Count (sponsored by the National Audubon Society) and the Great Backyard Bird Count (sponsored by Audubon and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology), are staged in winter. Those elusive little brown birds are easier to see and identify when they aren’t obscured by foliage, meaning counts are more accurate and provide a better gauge by which to measure the health of bird populations and the habitats that sustain them.

Birding, like wildflower blooms, newt migrations, butterfly and ladybug congregations, and displays of autumn foliage, offers walkers an opportunity to experience the Bay Area’s open lands in a new way. For the amateur, turning an eye to the sky opens the hiking experience to a higher plane. For safety’s sake, hikers focus on their feet, watching the trail so they don’t fall down. You’ve got to look up to find the birds, which means you must stop, and stopping results in discovery. The place may be old and familiar, but by pausing, looking up, and listening to the birdcall, you will see that place in a different way.

On the trails described below, amateur birders or those who are curious about birds are guaranteed to see a variety of species, from songbirds to shorebirds to raptors. These trails also offer opportunities for expert birders to check off another species on their life lists.

Read more at: Winter is prime time for birdwatching in Northern California | The Press Democrat

Filed under Habitats, Wildlife

Construction to start on SMART bike, pedestrian path

Staff, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL

The Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District, or SMART, received federal environmental clearance on April 6 for a portion of the planned bicycle and pedestrian pathway, stretching from north San Rafael to north Santa Rosa.

The 36-mile portion of the path from the San Rafael Civic Center Station to the Santa Rosa North Station near Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport cleared National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, review.

The Petaluma-based transit agency said this federal green light is one of the most significant environmental approvals to advance bicycle and pedestrian projects in the Bay Area. It also makes the approved portion of the path eligible for federal funding, the train authority said.

Read more at: Construction to start on SMART bike, pedestrian path | North Bay Business Journal

Filed under Transportation

New Laguna de Santa Rosa trail shows an ecosystem in recovery

Angela Hart, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

A group of two dozen people on Saturday got the first official look at a multimillion-dollar restoration effort along a 1.7-mile stretch of the Laguna de Santa Rosa, the broad freshwater wetland that flows into the Russian River.

A guided morning hike of the new Southern Laguna Discovery Trail outside Rohnert Park revealed a renewed ecosystem that is showing signs of recovery after decades of abuse and neglect. Steelhead trout and river otter populations are recovering, native plants and saplings are taking root and natural predators are returning.

“Check this out, it’s bobcat scat,” said Kevin Monroe, executive director of the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation, as a group of hikers gathered around him and cheered the discovery. “Seeing a top predator in this habitat is just wonderful. We still have much further to go, but this is a sign that some health and functionality is being returned to this ecosystem.”

Spearheaded by the foundation, and the Sonoma County Water Agency, restoration efforts along the middle reach of the Laguna de Santa Rosa have been underway since 2012. Just four years ago, the waterway that flows from Cotati and past Sebastopol before spilling into the Russian River was surrounded largely by grassland. Most of the native trees and shrubs were ripped out during the early 1970s, and the meandering waterway was straightened to help prevent flooding in Rohnert Park.

Runoff from urban areas and dairy farms led to other problems, spurring an explosion of invasive plants that choked off oxygen in the waters, leading to significant declines in wildlife populations.

Some of those issues have been stemmed by conservation efforts.“It’s a big experiment, but all of the plants and animals are starting to come back,” said Wendy Trowbridge, director of restoration and conservation science programs for the foundation. “And 20 years from now, this will be like walking in a lovely forest.”

Read more at: New Laguna de Santa Rosa trail unveiled outside Rohnert Park | The Press Democrat

Filed under Habitats, Land Use, Water, Wildlife

Wheels slowly turning for Sonoma Valley bike trail

SONOMA VALLEY SUN

A route has been identified for a proposed 13-mile pedestrian and bicycle trail through the Sonoma Valley. The public is invited to view and comment on the suggested alignment and other findings of a draft feasibility study at an open house planned for 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 20 at the Kenwood Fire Protection District office, 9045 Sonoma Highway.

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors reviewed the study at its Jan. 12 meeting. See the plan.

The review evaluates the potential for a multi-use trail along Highway 12 between Santa Rosa and the Springs: on the west side between Melita Road and Oakmont Drive; along the east side between Oakmont and Arnold Drive in Glen Ellen; and along the west side between Arnold Drive and Agua Caliente Road.

With the exception of a few areas, the Highway 12 corridor lacks sidewalks and bicycle lanes. The proposed trail would improve safety for motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians and promote alternative travel to wineries, parks and other Sonoma Valley attractions, planners say.

Read more at: Wheels slowly turning for Sonoma Valley bike trail | Sonoma Sun

Filed under Transportation

Proposed Dairyman Winery and event center corked for now

Krista Sherer, SONOMA WEST TIMES

The contentious Dairyman project hit an obstacle in September with the response from the Sonoma County Regional Parks denying access across the Joe Rodota trail for the project.  Residents and community groups throughout Sonoma County have opposed the project from the beginning, voicing that the large-scale winery and event center would not only violate zoning to the trail drastically effecting traffic, harm the ecosystem to the Laguna de Santa Rosa and negatively influence the overall character to the rural charm of West County.

In a Sept. 17 letter from Sonoma County Regional Parks (SCRP) Director Caryl Hart to Permit and Resource Management Department’s (PMRD) Supervising Planner Traci Tesconi, Hart wrote that the land owner currently has no legal rights to cross the trail and crosses at the county’s sufferance.

Read more about this project at: Proposed Dairyman Winery and event center corked for now – Sonoma West Times and News: News

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Land Use, Sustainable Living, Transportation

SMART settlement paves way for bike, pedestrian path

Derek Moore, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Cycling advocates say a last-minute agreement hammered out with Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit officials will prioritize a bike and pedestrian path that voters demanded in 2008 when they approved construction of the commuter rail line.

The agreement, brokered by Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, calls for establishing a list of higher priority pathway segments and identifying funding sources for those projects.

Cycling advocates had been threatening to sue SMART over a section of pathway planned in San Rafael, a dispute that more generally speaks to concerns the rail agency is failing to meet its obligations to build the promised network. The agreement, for now, appears to have addressed those concerns.

“Overall, this is a very, very positive development. It increases hope that the path will actually be built,” said Gary Helfrich, executive director of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition.

Read more at: SMART settlement paves way for bike, pedestrian path | The Press Democrat

Filed under Land Use, Transportation

Work gets underway on next section of Bodega Bay Trail

Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Construction is about to begin on the next step of a coastal trail designed eventually to run through the community of Bodega Bay, linking commercial, residential and recreational areas spread along narrow Highway 1 from one end of town to the other.

When opened at the end of this year, the newest .55-mile stretch will mark completion of about 1.1 miles of pathway — about a third of the overall, 3.5-mile Bodega Bay Bike & Pedestrian Trail eventually planned to run from Doran Beach north to Salmon Creek Beach and beyond.

The existing trail curves slightly through low-growing bushes and conifer trees that largely block Highway 1 from view, treating pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians to a scenic alternative to the road.

“It gets people off Highway 1, too, so it’s safer,” State Park Ranger Greg Propst said.

The new segment will run from Bodega Dunes Road — the entrance to the state park campground of the same name — to Keefe Avenue in the community of Salmon Creek, just inland from south Salmon Creek Beach and north of the central business district.

Read more at: Work gets underway on next section of Bodega Bay Trail

Filed under Sonoma Coast

Joseph Wagner shifts focus from Meiomi to Dairyman winery project

Bill Swindell, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Fresh off selling his Meiomi brand for $315 million to Constellation Brands Inc., Joe Wagner is planning his next steps as the 33-year-old wine entrepreneur has emerged as one of the of biggest players to watch in the North Coast wine industry.

At the top of his list is a desire to complete the controversial Dairyman winery project near Sebastopol, which has run into opposition from community activists. Critics contend the plan, which would turn the 68-acre property into a large-scale winery, will snarl traffic along the Highway 12 corridor, degrade their quality of life and use up scarce water during a drought.

“We’re having this (conducted) as a very thorough process that doesn’t leave any stone unturned. We feel pretty confident. I like the project, still,” Wagner said Wednesday after speaking at a conference sponsored by the industry publication Wines & Vines. “People see it for the positives. Obviously, some people think it’s not the right place and the right size or anything.”

Wagner has agreed to submit the project — which calls for a facility that can produce up to 500,000 cases of wine and 250,000 gallons of distilled spirits annually, an administration building and hospitality center — for a full environmental impact report to assuage local concerns.

The biggest hurdle, Wagner contends, will be finding a way for vehicles to enter the proposed winery from Highway 12 through an access road that would cross the popular Joe Rodota Trail, used by bicyclists and runners. A tunnel might be one option, he said.

Read more at: Joseph Wagner shifts focus from Meiomi to Dairyman | The Press Democrat

Filed under Agriculture/Food System, Land Use

Santa Rosa signs off on deal for Southeast Greenway property

Kevin McCallum, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Santa Rosa signed off Tuesday on long-sought deal paving the way for Caltrans to transfer a strip of land to the city and county for what proponents hope will become a future urban greenway.

The unanimous vote by the City Council, which followed a similar nod by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors last month, was cheered by dozens of supporters wearing green shirts reading “Imagine a greenway to Spring Lake and beyond.”

The members of the Southeast Greenway Campaign have worked for years to convince Caltrans officials to turn over 52 acres of former Highway 12 right-of-way to groups that can preserve the land for public open space, bike paths and other uses.

“There’s been long-standing interest in pursuing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our community,” said Linda Proulx, co-chair of the campaign.The agreement states that Caltrans will offer the city and Sonoma County Water Agency the right of first refusal to purchase the property. The city has agreed to take ownership of the largest portion, from Farmers Lane to Summerfield Avenue, while the county has said it will take the portion running east uphill to Spring Lake. Caltrans has already agreed it does not need the land it acquired decades ago for a now-defunct plan to extend Highway 12 over Spring Lake, bypassing the busy Farmers Lane area.

Convincing the state agency not to just declare the property surplus and sell it to the highest bidder was considered a crucial step. Vice Mayor Chris Coursey doubted it would ever happen.

“When I first heard this proposal, I thought, ‘Caltrans is never going to give up that land,’ ” Coursey said.

Much work remains to be done. The property still needs to be appraised, a price agreed upon, money raised, and a plan for the land approved.

Read more at: Santa Rosa signs off on deal for Southeast | The Press Democrat

Filed under Land Use