Posted on Categories ForestsTags , , , ,

How has Armstrong Woods recovered almost a year after the Walbridge Fire?

Katherine Minkiewicz-Martine, SOCONEWS

[Michele] Luna said the fire that went through Armstrong Woods was a healthy fire. “It’s coming back quite nicely. It’s really quite beautiful.”

Almost a year after the Walbridge Fire made its way down Austin Creek and into parts of the forest floor of Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, the forest is showing healthy signs of regrowth.

The Walbridge Fire started on Aug. 17, 2020, after a rare summer thunderstorm that was responsible for several large wildfires in the state.

Only days after the fire started, it was at 1,500 acres and growing with no containment.

With decades worth of overgrown brush and dry fuel buildup, the fire wasn’t contained for weeks and it made its way down drainage basins and through the crowns of redwood forests, burning a total of 55,209 acres.

As the fire made its way into Armstrong Woods, fire crews were stationed in and around the park and near the 308-foot Colonel Armstrong tree in an effort to protect the great giant and its neighbors.

While the Walbridge Fire did not impact any structures or iconic trees such as the 1,400-year-old Colonel Armstrong tree, the fire did back its way down through the Austin Creek State Recreation Area through the Bullfrog Pond Campground, causing damage to picnic tables, bathrooms, fencing and trails.


Posted on Categories Land Use, Local OrganizationsTags , , , ,

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.

Posted on Categories Land UseTags , , ,

Friends rally for Santa Rosa’s open-space heart, Trione-Annadel State Park


Parks like this need friends, which is why, three years ago, an organization that calls itself just that, Friends of Trione-Annadel, was organized. Its membership represents the spectrum of usage — hikers and horsemen, runners, mountain bikers — everyone from the casual stroller to the dedicated botanist and naturalist on the prowl to catalog a new plant.

Today we’re talking about Trione-Annadel State Park, that magnificent stretch of hills and dales where, if a runner, hiker, horseman or mountain biker starts in Howarth and enters through Spring Lake, he or she can do at least 15 miles on pathways before emerging in Kenwood.

(Of course, as armchair jockeys are quick to point out, then they have to get home.)

I am aware I am preaching to the choir here because most of you already know what an asset this is to our area. It is the most-used park in this part of Northern California, closing in on 150,000 visits a year to its 5,500 acres.

All that love comes with some problems, as Supervising Ranger Neill Fogarty points out. One, of course, is abuse — physical abuse to the fields and forests by those who would “make new trails,” daredevils who sometimes fail to abide by the old rules of kindergarten to “play nicely with others,” and financial abuse from the hundreds, maybe thousands, of people each year who don’t pay the toll.

The appreciative ones, according to Fogarty, pay up at the Channel Drive entrance, and many park visitors have annual park passes, but there are the inevitable freeloaders, their mission made easier by the fact the park can entered from so many populated areas — not only Santa Rosa, Kenwood and Bennett Ridge but all borders in between. Many nearby homeowners can walk into the park from their neighborhood.


Posted on Categories Sonoma CoastTags ,

Coastal Commission to have April 13 hearing on Iron Rangers at Sonoma County beaches

Enviro Updates
When the California Coastal Commission meets in Santa Rosa on April 13, Item 17a on the agenda will be the State Parks proposal to start charging for parking at Sonoma County State Beaches. Our rural beaches are impossible to reach by public transit, and parking charges will reduce access to the coast for many residents. The hearing, at least, is free and open to the public, and comments on the State Parks proposal can be made.
April 13, 2016, Veterans’ Memorial Building in Santa Rosa at 1351 Maple Avenue
For time, check the CCC Agenda
Read the State Parks Application, and comments on the Application by the Surfrider Foundation, Sonoma Coast Chapter

Posted on Categories Sonoma CoastTags , Leave a comment on California Coastal Commission to hear proposal to charge beach fees at Sonoma County parks

California Coastal Commission to hear proposal to charge beach fees at Sonoma County parks

The California Coastal Commission will consider the state’s controversial proposal to expand the number of places on the Sonoma Coast where day-use fees would be charged at the commission’s April 15 meeting in San Rafael.
The state is seeking permission to install 15 self-pay machines at beaches on the Sonoma Coast and charge visitors $7 for parking.

The areas where the new fees would apply are Stump Beach, Russian Gulch, Goat Rock, Shell Beach, Portuguese Beach, Schoolhouse Beach, North and South Salmon Creek, Campbell Cove and Bodega Head. The state for decades has been charging a day-use fee at several Sonoma Coast parks, including Fort Ross, Bodega Dunes and Wrights Beach.

State Parks originally sought a coastal permit from Sonoma County to implement the new fees. Supervisors in June 2013 unanimously rejected the plan, mainly on the grounds that they felt the new fees would restrict access to the coast, particularly for low-income people and seniors.

The commission’s April 15 meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Marin County Board of Supervisors chambers in San Rafael.

More information about the meeting can be found at

via California Coastal Commission to hear proposal to charge | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Land UseTags Leave a comment on Report on state parks urges fundamental changes

Report on state parks urges fundamental changes

A report on the future of California’s state parks recommends fundamental change to overcome chronic budget and management problems that threaten the long-term sustainability of these pantheons to nature.
Key recommendations include upgrading technology and fee-collection systems at parks, diversifying park leadership and creating a dedicated source of public funding to support an integrated network of state, regional and local parks.
But as noted in the 56-page Parks Forward report, underscoring funding challenges is a dearth of data on how much park services currently cost. The report calls on the California Department of Parks and Recreation to “promptly identify” those costs in order to determine what additional funding is needed to ensure the system’s viability.
Read more via Report on state parks urges fundamental changes | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories ForestsTags , , Leave a comment on Pipeline project raises concerns for fans of Armstrong Woods

Pipeline project raises concerns for fans of Armstrong Woods

A water-system upgrade that might seem routine almost anywhere else has drawn considerable scrutiny at Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve, where park supporters are worried about the project’s impact on old-growth trees and other wildlife in the popular destination near Guerneville.
The plan to replace more than a mile of water line on the valley floor drew enough opposition last winter to prompt state park officials to scrap an initial environmental study in favor of a broader review, delaying construction at least a year.
But California State Parks environmental coordinator Patricia DuMont said the fact that so many locals love and enjoy the redwood preserve has made it all the more important for them to understand what the department has in mind and the precautions it plans to take to safeguard the vulnerable resources there.
Read more via Pipeline project raises concerns for fans of Armstrong | The Press Democrat.

Posted on Categories Sonoma CoastTags , Leave a comment on BOS will vote on fee collection at county beaches

BOS will vote on fee collection at county beaches

by Sonoma Coast Surfrider
The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors (BOS) will be voting this upcoming Tuesday, August 21st, on a resolution regarding the fees collection system (the “Iron Rangers”) proposed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) to be installed at Sonoma County’s major beaches.
Your attendance at the BOS chambers this Tuesday is very valuable, demonstrating your support of a Sonoma County resolution that the DPR proposed project is flawed and ill-conceived.  Attendees are encouraged to be at BOS chambers, 575 Administration Drive, Room 102A in Santa Rosa for item 12 of the agenda; the meeting will be called to order at 8:30 am.  It will be important to have as many people as is possible attend; please pass this information on to fellow citizens.
A summary to the BOS can be downloaded at
A copy of the BOS resolution can be downloaded at
In addition, a link to this resolution has been posted on the Surfriders blog.  Not only can it be downloaded from this site, but it provides much additional information relevant both to the issue of Iron Rangers, but to other coastal issues.
This vote marks the end of Public Comment (as required by CEQA), and the acceptance of letters of concern by the public to Sonoma County’s Permits Resources Management Department.  Please submit your comments on this matter to PRMD, c/o David Hardy (Project Planner), RE File CPH12-0004, 2550 Ventura Avenue, Santa Rosa, CA  95403.  You can email David at, or you can call him for details at 707-565-1924.  Comments must be submitted by August 21, 2012.
Copy of DPR’s July 31st application to Sonoma County can be downloaded from
Thank you for your active involvement in this important issue, one that involves the traditional rights of public access and use of our beaches here in Sonoma County.