Posted on Categories Land UseTags , Leave a comment on Lafferty Ranch land fight intensifies

Lafferty Ranch land fight intensifies

Lori A. Carter, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Public-access advocates say a settlement over the long-disputed gateway to Petaluma’s Lafferty Ranch may be imminent, but adjacent property owners characterize the negotiations far differently.

Leaders of the Friends of Lafferty Park effort said Monday that two county maps from the 1860s may be the “final nail in the coffin” that will win a decades-old fight to gain public access to Lafferty Ranch, 270 acres of city-owned land northeast of Petaluma.
But an attorney for the adjacent property owners who oppose efforts to open the land as a public park countered Monday that negotiations are nowhere near a resolution.
via Two old maps present shift in Lafferty Ranch dispute | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Sonoma Coast, WildlifeTags Leave a comment on Bottlenose dolphins visit Bodega Bay

Bottlenose dolphins visit Bodega Bay

Andrea Granahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The waters off Bodega Bay have suddenly become the hang-out location for approximately one tenth of the west coast population of Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus).

Bottlenose dolphins visit Bodega Bay
Golden Gate Cetacean Research

About 60 of the animals have moved into the area, far out of their normal range. Usually they are found near Santa Barbara, off Point Conception between the mainland and the Channel Islands. But suddenly they have decided to check out Sonoma Coast waters, and it has scientists scratching their heads.
Researchers at the nonprofit Golden Gate Cetacean Research are hoping the public will help them by photographing any animals they spot. Send news and photos of sightings to ggcetacean.org.
The dolphins came north before during the 1982 El Niño, when ocean warming drove their food sources north to cooler waters. When the ocean cooled again, they moved south again.
via Bottlenose dolphins visit Bodega Bay.
Bodega Bay dolphin video 2012

Posted on Categories Local Organizations, Water, WildlifeTags , , Leave a comment on $700K grant to remove Stuart Creek fish barriers

$700K grant to remove Stuart Creek fish barriers

Report, SONOMA INDEX-TRIBUNE

Sonoma Land Trust has been awarded a $691,644 grant from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (FRGP).

The purpose of this funding, together with a planning grant from the California State Coastal Conservancy in 2013, is to enable the removal of three barriers to the passage of steelhead on Stuart Creek as it flows through Glen Ellen to allow the fish access to critical spawning and nursery grounds.

In 2011, Sonoma Land Trust purchased three-and-a-half acres near the intersection of Highway 12 and Arnold Drive that includes a one-third-mile stretch of Stuart Creek. Stuart Creek is a major tributary of Sonoma Creek, which once supported the second largest steelhead trout run among Bay Area streams. However, most of the fish habitat in the Stuart Creek watershed has been largely inaccessible to threatened steelhead trout for decades because of the barriers.

Removing them and reestablishing the creek’s historic fish run has been identified by the Center for Ecosystem Management and Restoration as one of the highest priorities for recovering steelhead in the Bay Area – and is the goal toward which Sonoma Land Trust has been working since acquiring the property it subsequently named “Stuart Creek Run.”

via Sonoma Index-Tribune | Sonoma News, Entertainment, Sports, Real Estate, Events, Photos, Sonoma, CA.

Posted on Categories Water, WildlifeTags , , Leave a comment on Judges uphold federal protection for fish in dispute over California water management

Judges uphold federal protection for fish in dispute over California water management

Jeremy P. Jacobs, GREENWIRE

Federal appellate judges today upheld the Fish and Wildlife Service’s finding that a California water project imperils an endangered fish, in a ruling that judges acknowledge would have "enormous practical implications" for the state’s water management.

The San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower-court ruling that invalidated the Fish and Wildlife Service’s biological opinion on the delta smelt, which concludes that the Central Valley Project and State Water Project pose a threat to the tiny fish.

Together, the two projects serve 200,000 water customers in Central and Southern California, including the country’s most diverse agricultural region.

via ENDANGERED SPECIES: Judges uphold federal protection for fish in dispute over Calif. water management — Thursday, March 13, 2014 — www.eenews.net.

Posted on Categories UncategorizedLeave a comment on Spring wildflower hikes around Sonoma County

Spring wildflower hikes around Sonoma County

Greg Retsinas, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

From the Sonoma County Regional Parks, it’s time for one of their spring traditions – wildflower hikes. I’ve been on a few of these over the years, and they are terrific.

lupins

The details:
Discover the spring beauty of your Regional Parks by joining our wildflower walks on Saturdays from March 22-May 3. These walks are free and led by volunteer Phil Dean, a Master Gardner who will identify native plants, discuss the drought’s impact on this year’s flower displays, and share stories specific to the flora of each park. Most walks start at 10 a.m., last about two hours and proceed at an easy pace. The exception is the Hood Mountain outing, which starts at 8 a.m., lasts about four hours, and is a strenuous walk due to the elevation gain. We’ll hike in light rain, but heavy rain cancels. Parking $7 or free for Regional Parks members.
Mar. 22 – Sonoma Valley Regional Park – “Native magic”
Mar. 29 – Steelhead Beach – “Death, spirits, alcohol and other strange plants and tales”
Apr. 5 – Crane Creek Regional Park – “Native magic and cures”
Apr. 12 – Foothill Regional Park – “Fields of color”
Apr. 19 – Riverfront Regional Park – “Alcohol, spirits and fatal beauties”
Apr. 26 – Shiloh Regional Park – “Magical color and ingredients”
May 3 – Hood Mountain Regional Park (Los Alamos Road entrance at 8 a.m.) – “Rare and unusual”
via Spring wildflower hikes around Sonoma County | Trailhead.

Posted on Categories Land Use, Sonoma CoastTags Leave a comment on President Obama designates Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands a national monument

President Obama designates Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands a national monument

Mary Callahan, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

With a stroke of his pen — six pens, actually — President Barack Obama turned a remote piece of the Mendocino Coast into a national destination Tuesday in an Oval Office ceremony that locals in attendance described as something right out of a dream.

The Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands is now officially part of the 1,100-mile California Coastal National Monument, protected under a presidential proclamation long sought by locals.

via President Obama designates Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands a national monument (w/video) | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Forests, TransportationTags , , Leave a comment on Rare redwood faces chopping block in Cotati

Rare redwood faces chopping block in Cotati

Lori A. Carter, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Standing inconspicuously beside a block wall across the street from a glass shop in Cotati is one of the rarest living life forms in the world, an albino chimera coast redwood tree.

Researchers say fewer than 10 of the genetically mutated trees are known to exist.

But if SMART’s rail plans proceed, the tree — the largest of its kind — soon will be cut down so commuter trains can safely zoom past.

“This tree is irreplaceable,” said Tom Stapleton, a former Sonoma County arborist who is now based in Amador County and studies the rare mutations. “They need to do something more than just cut it down.”

via Rare redwood faces chopping block in Cotati | PressDemocrat.com.

Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, WaterTags , , Leave a comment on Bud break, frost looming for North Coast growers

Bud break, frost looming for North Coast growers

Derek Moore, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Recent rainstorms have Sonoma County grape growers feeling more optimistic about being able to protect their crops from killer frost as full-blown bud break appears imminent.

“Right now we seem to be doing pretty good for frost protection. Most people have what they need,” said Doug McIlroy, director of winegrowing at Rodney Strong Wine Estates.

Farther north in Mendocino County, however, growers are still being warned that they probably won’t have any water for frost protection this season because of low reservoir levels and flow in the Russian River.

“Very limited, if any,” said Sean White, general manager of the Russian River Flood Control District.

via Bud break, frost, North Coast growers, vineyards, Sonoma County | PressDemocrat.com.

Posted on Categories Sustainable LivingLeave a comment on Nominees for 2014 Sonoma County environmental awards

Nominees for 2014 Sonoma County environmental awards

Enviro Updates

For almost forty years the Sonoma County Conservation Council and the Sierra Club Sonoma Group have held an annual Environmental Awards Dinner to honor the visionary men and women who work to protect the environment in Sonoma County. This year, there are nine nominees for three awards and one special awardee. Fuller descriptions of the awards and of each nominee’s work can be found here.

Dinner info

Nominees for Environmentalist of the Year

John Branscome, aka Jurassic John, volunteers his knowledge and love of nature several times a week to introduce students to the natural world around them, and contributes his many handyman skills to the upkeep of facilities for nature-oriented nonprofits.
Richard Dale, director of the Sonoma Ecology Center, has an impressive talent for creating partnerships to tackle difficult local problems. One example of these imaginative partnerships is Team Sugarloaf, a five-nonprofit coalition that has kept Sugarloaf Ridge State Park open and maintained during the state’s budget crisis.
Stephen Fuller-Rowell is a co-founder of the Sonoma County Water Coalition. The Coalition has successfully brought together water activists throughout the county, no simple task. Together they work on forging and advocating solutions for the complicated and controversial problems of local water. Stephen’s skills of research, writing, engagement and collaboration provide an essential support for the Water Coalition.
Chris Poehlmann, president of Friends of the Gualala River, has worked for decades to protect the watersheds and forests of the northwest County, which are threatened by the expansion of vineyards into hilly forested land. His perserverance and leadership were essential to stopping two recent projects – the huge ‘Preservation Ranch’ project, now a conservation preserve, and the Artesa vineyard near Annapolis.
Continue reading “Nominees for 2014 Sonoma County environmental awards”

Posted on Categories Agriculture/Food System, Local Organizations, Sustainable LivingTags , Leave a comment on Growing food in a drought year

Growing food in a drought year

Sonoma County Master Gardeners
You may be wondering whether or not to bother with a food garden in a drought year. But, there are water-wise actions that can be employed for a successful harvest. Not only do we need to practice soil and water management strategies, we need to ask ourselves some serious questions:
tomatoes
– How much available water will I have for a food garden?
– How much food do I need to grow and can I grow it with available water?
– What supplemental water is available and how safe is it for edibles?
We need to educate ourselves about the water needs of various crops and stages of plant growth that require irrigation. In this regard, we should explore crops and varieties that may be new to us, but are drought-tolerant.
The Food Gardening Specialists (FGS) group is offering an action plan for food gardeners as well as suggestions for drought-tolerant plants:
Food Gardening with Less Water
Drought-Tolerant Crops and Varieties
Check this Community Garden Network newsletter for complete info about free “Spring Food Gardening in a Drought Year” workshops on March 29, April 5 and April 12.
via Food Gardening – Sonoma County Master Gardeners.