Posted on Categories Habitats, Land Use, Local Organizations, WildlifeTags , , , ,

State launches Sonoma Developmental Center ‘site assessment’ 


See the Transform SDC website for community and nonprofit input on what should be done with the SDC site and this Sonoma Land Trust article on the importance of the wildlife corridor through the site.

After what has sometimes seemed like an interminable delay, the wheels are starting to turn on the rollout toward closure of the Sonoma Develomental Center.
At least that’s how it looks now that the state Department of General Services has announced that a $2 million contract has been signed with a Bay Area engineering firm to perform a “site assessment” of the 860-acre SDC campus for use after the closure of the facility, scheduled for the end of 2018.San Francisco-based Wallace Roberts & Todd (WRT) entered the contract with the state in mid-April. The first step will be a “kick-off meeting” and team introduction, with the goal to develop a project schedule and define areas of responsibility and research for WRT and its subcontractors.
That meeting was scheduled for Monday afternoon, May 15, at the Slater Building on the SDC property. A final report of the group’s assessments is due in late December, after a number of intermediary benchmarks.
1st District Supervisor Susan Gorin, who’s also on the leadership team of the Coalition to Preserve SDC, said she’s “anxious” to work with the site assessment team and help facilitate community meetings so “they can fully gauge the community’s concerns, interests in eventual reuse of the campus and constraints to development.”
Read more at: State launches Sonoma Developmental Center ‘site assessment’ | Sonoma Index-Tribune | Sonoma, CA

Posted on Categories Habitats, Sustainable Living, WildlifeTags , , , ,

Wildlife-friendly fencing catching on across Sonoma County


For more information about how to protect wildlife from fencing:
Landowner’s guide to fencing
Creating a wildlife-friendly fence

Have you ever watched as a fawn, a coyote or a quail scurries in a panic to find its way around, over or through a fence?
Fences of all descriptions crisscross Sonoma County, and they are a major obstacle for animals simply trying to find food, water and shelter.
There are literally thousands of miles of fence in the county, built for many different purposes: for privacy, to keep pets or livestock in, to mark boundaries, to protect crops, to keep deer out, to protect property from vandalism, to keep animals from entering roadsides. There are many types of fences, some that allow wildlife to safely pass through while others that are actually quite hazardous.
According to those who have researched this issue, the most lethal type of fencing is woven-wire, with one or two strands of barbed wire over the top. These fences block smaller animals from crawling underneath, and often snare one leg of animals like deer that attempt to jump them.
Perhaps you’ve seen the remains of a doe or fawn that has met its fate in this manner, left to die dangling from one foot on the far side of the fence. In fact, one study in Utah found that fawns accounted for 90% of the mortalities on woven wire fences.
These are uncomfortable realities, but ones that many different land owners and land managers are confronting. We are doing out part at Sonoma County Regional Parks, working with partners and volunteers to remove old fences in places like Sonoma Valley Regional Park. The best fence often is no fence at all.
We also are working to replace old barbed wire fences with new ones that have smooth wires on the top and bottom, none of which is more than 40 inches tall. They adhere to guidelines set out by the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District, and mirror those being used all across the West.
These wildlife-friendly fences allow us to keep cattle in where we want grazing for natural resource benefit, while allowing wildlife safe passage.
Wildlife-friendly fences benefit a wide range of animal species, including large carnivores like mountain lions, wide-ranging omnivores like black bears, smaller predators such as badgers, and even raptors and upland game birds.
Science is helping us discover which Bay Area lands are most important to wildlife as it passes through. By analyzing the areas where that movement is concentrated — streams and ridgelines and areas that still are relatively undeveloped — several maps have been drawn that indicate priority areas for conservation.
While they are helpful, it is important to recognize that micro linkages exist along every small waterway and ridgeline throughout the county. Much can be done at the scale of small farms, individual homes and backyards to address wildlife connectivity.
The most important thing you can do in your own yards is to consider making enclosures as small as possible to meet your needs. Rather than putting a deer fence around the entire property, for example, focus just on your garden space. If you have wilder portions of your property along streams or wetlands, consider removing all fencing that is nonessential.
Read more at: Wildlife-friendly fencing catching on across Sonoma County | The Press Democrat

Posted on Categories Land Use, WildlifeTags , , ,

State's plan to close Sonoma Developmental Center blasted

Derek Moore & Angela Hart, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The draft closure plan did earn wide praise, however, for its recommendation that Sonoma Developmental property not be sold off as surplus, as has happened in similar situations.

The state’s draft plan for closing the Sonoma Developmental Center by 2018 is drawing sharp condemnation from family members and advocates for the disabled over the plan’s perceived failure to adequately address the long-term needs of 400 center residents, who would be moved into community-based settings.
During a highly charged hearing in Sonoma on Monday, dozens of people railed against the closure plan, saying it will result in developmental center residents receiving a substandard level of care that poses risks to their health and possibly their survival.
“This is a cookie-cutter plan that does nothing but fast-track the closure of the Sonoma Developmental Center,” said Brien Farrell of Santa Rosa, whose sister has lived at the facility since 1958.
The state for months has signaled its intent to shutter the Sonoma Developmental Center for budgetary reasons and because institutionalized care for the severely disabled continues to fall out of public favor. But many advocates for the facility have pushed for the state to maintain some level of services at the Eldridge site, including a crisis center and specialized offerings such as dental care.
Read more at: State’s plan to close Sonoma Developmental Center blasted | The Press Democrat

Posted on Categories Land Use, Transportation, WildlifeTags , Leave a comment on 5-year roadkill effort tracks California's deadliest roads

5-year roadkill effort tracks California's deadliest roads

Ellen Knickmeyer, ASSOCIATED PRESS

1. Interstate 5, the state’s major north-south corridor: Particularly deadly for owls and other birds of prey, for black bears living near Mount Shasta in Northern California, and for all wildlife on the Tejon Pass linking Central and Southern California.
2. State Route 17 between San Jose and Santa Cruz: Deadly for puma, bobcats, deer and other animals.
3. Interstate 280 in the San Francisco Bay Area: Bad for deer.
4. State Route 50 in the Sierra Nevada Mountain area: Lethal for several species.
5: State Route 101 through Northern California redwoods: Lethal to all forms of wildlife.
Worst highway carving up animal habitat: Interstate 80 across the Sierra Nevada.

Busy freeways running alongside park land and marshes make San Francisco Bay Area roads a “ring of death” for wildlife, according to a new statewide roadkill report that tracks the deadliest traffic spots for wildlife.
Fraser Shilling, co-director of the Road Ecology Center at the University of California-Davis, used 29,000 volunteer reports of wildlife roadkill over five years to map the most lethal areas for the state’s 680 native species of bobcats, barn owls, frogs and other vertebrates.
The idea is to identify stretches that need immediate action to try to protect wildlife — and to make clear the overall toll that California’s car culture is taking on native species, Shilling said.
“Just having all the roads and traffic we have is resulting in really big changes in the ecosystem,” Shilling said. “It’s getting worse as you see more traffic and more roads.”
Roadways — which kill not only by collisions with cars but by carving up habitat — are the third-biggest cause of wildlife death, and the biggest cause for some state species, like pumas, he said.
Besides Interstate 80 and California 101 in the Bay Area, where large numbers of wading birds and water birds die, top roadkill spots include San Diego County’s California Route 94, which runs through wildlife habitat, and Interstates 80 and 5 in the Sacramento area under the Pacific Flyway migratory bird route.
One way to lessen deaths is to avoid planting roadsides with berries, blooms or other plants that attract wildlife. Highway crossings for wildlife – land bridges are best, but tunnels are more common — help some species, he said.
California’s move toward such wildlife crossings is “really far too slow,” Shilling said. “We need a 10-year program of 10- to 20 structures a year.”
Read more via 5-year roadkill effort tracks California’s deadliest roads | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Land Use, WildlifeTags , Leave a comment on Wildlife crossing gets protection in land deal

Wildlife crossing gets protection in land deal

Eloísa Ruano González, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
When he was a child, Paul Curreri was convinced he could dig a tunnel through the ridge behind his home near Glen Ellen to get to a pond on the other side.
“I dug for hours,” he recalled, adding that land that his father, Norman, had purchased off Highway 12 in 1948 served as his playground for much of his childhood.
That land will soon be opened for all Sonoma County’s residents to enjoy.
Curreri is selling the 29-acre parcel for $1.1 million to the Sonoma Land Trust, which has been eying the site for years because of its importance to a significant wildlife corridor across Sonoma Valley. It sits in a “pinch point,” a narrow open area between development to the north and south that’s used by wildlife to cross the grape-growing valley.
The trust is buying the property with support from the county after the Board of Supervisors this week authorized spending more than $500,000 in open space funds. The land will become part of the existing 162-acre Sonoma Valley Regional Park, giving visitors more woodlands and grasslands to explore.
via Wildlife crossing gets protection in land deal | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Land Use, Uncategorized, WildlifeTags , , , Leave a comment on Lawmakers join fight for Sonoma Developmental Center

Lawmakers join fight for Sonoma Developmental Center


Deer, mountain lion, coyote, bobcat and rare species that include steelhead trout, northern spotted owl and California red-legged frog live on or frequent the site. Sonoma Creek, which runs through the center’s property for about three quarters of a mile, is one of the county’s most significant streams for steelhead.

Map of a potential east-west habitat corridor which includes the Sonoma Developmental Center. Sonoma Ecology Center

A coalition of Sonoma County government agencies and environmental groups is ramping up its fight to protect the Sonoma Developmental Center from development and to maintain residential care for an unspecified number of severely disabled clients.
About 500 people reside at the Eldridge facility, which also is Sonoma Valley’s largest employer. But the site’s future is in doubt after a state task force in December recommended that California’s four remaining developmental centers be downsized.
Concerns the state could abandon the nearly 1,000-acre Sonoma Valley site have galvanized the local community and caught the attention of the North Coast’s legislative delegation. The group’s demands include that the center’s open spaces be protected and for public recreational facilities to be expanded, in addition to maintaining some level of services for the disabled.
via Lawmakers join fight for Sonoma Developmental Center | The Press Democrat.