Restoration and growth at Oken

August 23, 2022

Posted in: News Articles

We have inspiring news from Oken, one of the greenbelt properties we own and manage in southeast Santa Rosa!

Greenbelts are open space lands that act as community separators to limit urban sprawl, to retain the rural and open character of the county, and to preserve natural resources and agriculture near our cities and towns. 

At our Oken property, gently sloping pastureland on Petaluma Hill Road forms the northeastern boundary of Rohnert Park. Ag + Open Space purchased the 76-acre property, which includes an intermittent stream, in 1998 to act as a vital open space buffer between Santa Rosa and Rohnert Park. 

Willows growing in the restoration area at Oken.

Willows growing in the restoration area at Oken.

The property has long been part of local agricultural heritage, and currently the Crane family, famous for their unique Crane melons, graze cattle on the property. While cattle help to reduce fire hazards on the property, the intermittent stream on the property had been damaged over time by cattle access during the wet season.

Over the last few years we’ve been working on a restoration project to restore and sustain the health of the stream and create habitat for native plants and animals, including working with Point Blue Conservation Science’s STRAW (“Students and Teachers Restoring a Watershed”) program on native plant revegetation. Over a series of four workdays, students worked along the property’s riparian corridor to plant live oak acorns, buckeyes, rushes and sedges, and other native species to help stabilize and revegetate these areas. 

We’ve also worked with Humboldt Fencing and Hanford ARC to install seasonal fencing, repair eroded areas, and install stream crossings for cattle and vehicles, to protect the stream and keep the cattle away from sensitive areas during the wet season. This project also included planting several hundred native willows to stabilize the stream banks, and between the planting work with Hanford and Point Blue, during this past winter and spring we saw dramatic and exciting growth. Check out the before and after below!

Land management is often a balancing act, and we’re happy to see that these projects have helped bring a healthy equilibrium back to this property while enabling continued agricultural use by a local ranching family.