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Tracking Sonoma County’s mountain lions

Derek Moore, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Have you had an encounter with a mountain lion? Organizers of Audubon Canyon Ranch’s mountain lion study want to hear from you. Fill out their survey at surveymonkey.com/r/MTLIONACR.

In his office at Glen Ellen’s Bouverie Preserve, Quinton Martins has several collars equipped with GPS technology that he has used to track and study leopards in remote places around the world.
The South African biologist and acknowledged authority on big cats is now gearing up to track a different predator — the mountain lions that call Sonoma and Napa counties home. Audubon Canyon Ranch has hired the famed researcher to conduct the groundbreaking study, which the nonprofit agency hopes to use as the basis for protecting what remains of the habitat in which the lions and other creatures live.
Nobody knows for sure how many mountain lions roam Wine Country. That’s one key question Martins hopes to answer with his research. He said under optimal conditions, he would expect to find as many as 50 adult mountain lions living in the 1,000-square-mile territory included in the study.
The general public, however, usually only hears about the cats when something unfortunate happens, such as the rare occasion when a lion attacks pets, livestock or humans. Or, when a lion is the victim of circumstance, as was the case March 1 when an adult female was struck and killed by a motorist on Highway 116 near Monte Rio.
The less headline-grabbing, but just as compelling, story is how these beautiful and powerful animals, which can reach 220 pounds and stand 3 feet tall, have managed to survive in an increasingly urbanized environment, hunting prey (mostly deer), mating and doing their best to avoid contact with humans who are, in Martins’ words, “super-predators.”
Read more at: Tracking Sonoma County’s mountain lions | Petaluma Argus Courier | Petaluma360.com

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A fence too far: Much at stake as state moves to close Sonoma Developmental Center

Tom Gogola, NORTH BAY BOHEMIAN
While it’s been in operation since 1891, the state may close Glen Ellen’s Sonoma Development Center, a state facility for behaviorally and developmentally disabled adults.

wildlife corridor
An essential Wildlife Corridor: the Sonoma Developmental Center has 1000 acres of undeveloped open space (Source: Sonoma Ecology Center.)

If the state gets its way, Kathleen Miller’s disabled adult son and some 400 other patients will be forced to leave the care of Glen Ellen’s Sonoma Development Center for a destination unknown.”[State officials] say they want to collaborate with us, but this is a fast-track for closure,” Miller says. “They want to close it very quickly, and almost dangerously.”
Miller is the head of the Parent Hospital Association at the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC), which the state has scheduled to close in 2018. Last week she was one of several local advocates for the center who teed off on the proposed closure plan offered by the state Department of Developmental Services.State Sens. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, and Bill Dodd, D-Napa, share her concerns and took issue with a plan that they said doesn’t address the fate of the developmentally and behaviorally disabled people now living at the facility.
“We are incredibly disappointed with the draft plan that was put forward last week,” the lawmakers asserted in a Sept. 21 press release. “The report is inadequate and lacks the specific details that we as a community expected, and quite frankly, were led to believe would be delivered.”
The question hanging in the air is what happens if efforts at community placement of residents fail by the time the facility closes? Closing the SDC means closing a facility of last resort for some residents who might otherwise find themselves getting their mental-health services in locked-down hospital psychiatric wards or, worse, in jail.
Read more at: A Fence Too Far | News | North Bay Bohemian

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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

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Breathing room for Sonoma Developmental Center advocates 

Derek Moore, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A bill that sought to close the Sonoma Developmental Center and a similar facility in Southern California on an accelerated timeline was held over Tuesday until next year.
The bill’s author, Sen. Jeff Stone, R-Temecula, said he agreed to the delay after he and Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, met Monday to discuss McGuire’s concerns about the proposal.
McGuire is chairman of the Senate’s Human Services Committee, which heard SB 639 Tuesday.A month ago, McGuire publicly criticized Stone for bringing the bill, saying the Riverside County senator “would be challenged to find Sonoma on a map.”
Read more via: Breathing room for Sonoma Developmental Center advocates | The Press Democrat

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Charting path for developmental center’s site

Derek Moore, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The site is at the heart of the Sonoma Valley Wildlife Corridor, linking more than 9,000 acres of protected land running west to east from Sonoma Mountain to the Mayacamas mountains. The property also is a bridge between Jack London State Historic Park and Sonoma Valley Regional Park.

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.

A coalition led by the Sonoma Land Trust has launched an intensive review of potential uses for nearly 1,000 acres of prime real estate and the buildings that make up the Sonoma Developmental Center should the state close the facility.
Dubbed the “Transform SDC Project,” the 18-month review includes a series of public meetings for people to weigh in on the center’s future. The first meeting is scheduled for May 2 in Sonoma.
“We’re hoping anyone that cares about SDC will see this as the place to bring their ideas,” said John McCaull, the Sonoma Valley land acquisitions project manager for the Land Trust.
The center near Glen Ellen is battling declining admissions, licensing problems and calls to shut down to save taxpayers money. But what to do with the campus, which includes 145 buildings, and pristine grounds surrounding it is the source of an intensifying political and land-use battle.
About 400 or so developmentally disabled people still reside at the center and receive around-the-clock care there. With about 1,300 employees, the center also is Sonoma Valley’s largest employer.
One model being touted for the center’s future use is for a government entity to maintain ownership of the buildings and lease space to generate revenue. The surrounding property under this vision would be maintained as open space or become additions to nearby county or state parks.
Read more via: Charting path for developmental center’s site | The Press Democrat

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Lawmakers join fight for Sonoma Developmental Center

Derek Moore, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

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.

Habitat_Corridor_Poster-small
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.

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Wildlife corridor at risk in Sonoma Valley

Enviro Updates
A state task force recommended on Friday that the Sonoma Developmental Center be downsized dramatically, putting into limbo the futures of the severely disabled long-term residents of the Center. The decision will also open the property to development, threatening a crucial wildlife corridor. A coalition of groups has formed to protect both the Center’s services and the environmental resources of the property.

At almost 1,000 acres, the Sonoma Developmental Center (SDC)
property is the largest and most significant unprotected land in the
Sonoma Valley. In addition to providing services for developmentally
disabled individuals, this property is situated at the heart of the
Sonoma Valley Wildlife Corridor, a crucial passage for wildlife that
extends over 5 miles from Sonoma Mountain to the Mayacamas
Mountains and is at risk of being developed.
Sonoma Developmental Center Coalition

Press Democrat: Major changes eyed for Sonoma Developmental Center