Conservation work in progress

October 28, 2021

Posted in: News Articles

As you know, our mission is to permanently protect the diverse agricultural, natural resource, and scenic open space lands of Sonoma County for future generations. The act of “protecting” a piece of land is multi-faceted: it starts with careful planning, then moves to the actual conservation of the land, then moves to the ongoing care, or stewardship, of the land – forever.

Since our formation, we have protected and continue to perpetually steward over 123,000 acres of high priority open space lands, preserving productive agricultural land and local food, healthy watersheds, functional ecosystems and biodiversity, and scenic landscapes and greenbelts, and providing a wide variety of recreational opportunities for Sonoma County residents and visitors.

Before we can begin our perpetual stewardship of the land, we must first acquire a conservation easement – and that’s where our Acquisition team comes in. Right now, our Acquisition specialists are in some stage of work on over 45 projects spanning the length and width of our county. Some projects are just in the beginning stages where we’ve only had initial conversations with landowners, while others may be further along, either in negotiations or on the verge of recording an easement. We thought we’d give you an overview of the diversity of projects we’re pursuing that help us meet the goals and objectives in the Vital Lands Initiative, and will ultimately benefit everyone in our community.

The active projects include several additions to existing preserves and City, Regional, or State Parks such as Saddle Mountain and Paulin Creek Preserves; Keiser Park in Windsor and Steamer Landing Park in Petaluma; Sugarloaf, Trione-Annadel, and Armstrong Woods State Parks; and Crane Creek, Hood Mountain, and Helen Putnam Regional Parks.

Through our Matching Grant Program, we’re working with Cities and other County departments on enhancements at Badger Park in Healdsburg, A Place to Play in Santa Rosa, the AmeriCorps Trail in Sebastopol, and the Bodega Bay Trail on the coast. We’ve also provided grant funding for new parks in Healdsburg and Roseland, and a new greenway in southeast Santa Rosa.

Our Acquisition team is also working with landowners to conserve six different farms, ranches, or dairies in the coastal agriculture belt west of Petaluma and south of Sebastopol, in addition to pursuing three projects on the slopes of Sonoma Mountain, all of which include an agricultural component. Another project in the works includes on a conservation easement of a vineyard property in the Dry Creek Valley where the landowners are interested in restoring the riparian area on the property and converting more areas to natural resources. Lastly, our specialists are also working with landowners to conserve two properties within the Laguna de Santa Rosa, and well as several agricultural and natural resource properties in the West County and along the coast.

Needless to say, our Acquisition team has been busy! And this is only a sampling of the exciting projects we’ve got in the works. We look forward to sharing more about each of these projects as they progress, so stay tuned!