Trione-Annadel park struggling to protect hidden treasures


To help close part of the gap in support to maintain and protect Annadel, a new nonprofit community group, Friends of Trione-Annadel State Park, was formed this year by outdoorsman and retired executive Dan Stamps and other concerned Santa Rosans. Information about the group and their June fundraiser can be found at their website

From the air, Trione-Annadel State Park — affectionately just “Annadel” to many — stands like a tall, 5-mile- long island, floating between the flat valleys of Santa Rosa on the west and Sonoma to the east. And like an island adrift in a sea of development, the massif carries a trove of lost natural treasures. Despite Annadel’s 40 miles of official trails, many of its treasures lie hidden from casual view: Few know, for example, that Annadel is home to four types of blooming orchids.

That low profile is a mixed blessing to the small team entrusted with its care. Concealed in the wild, Annadel’s unique features are spared the damage that often comes with human contact. But if they’re kept secret, the public may not support the long-term efforts required to protect them.

While the park today is primarily a recreation magnet, the landscape itself has stories to tell, and the natural history of Annadel is a fascinating tour through time and change.

History of wildfires

October’s firestorm was not the first time flames have swept the Annadel landscape, and how often the fires return is an important question. To find out, Mark Finney, a young Berkeley researcher, hit on the idea of examining ancient redwood stumps in Annadel, looking for burn scars amid the tree rings, which he could then count to track time between fires. What he found was unexpected. Before the mid-1800s, there were fires every six to 23 years on average, and as often as every two years.