Ag + Open Space funds two new urban open space projects, and opens a second application cycle for Matching Grant Program

December 13, 2022

Posted in: Press Releases

Park expansions and natural resource restoration projects funded in Santa Rosa and Petaluma, and a second round of Matching Grant funding opens

SANTA ROSA, CA (December 13, 2022) – In the spring of 2022, Ag + Open Space launched the 2022 Matching Grant Program to provide up to $4 million to support urban open space projects. Today, our Board of Directors approved $1.95 million in funding for the two projects received during the first application cycle – the Lower Colgan Creek Restoration and Neighborhood Park Land Acquisition, and the Helen Putnam Regional Park Extension Project. Both projects will add land to existing parks, restore key natural resources, and help bring long-planned open space projects to fruition.

In addition to approving funding for those two projects, our Board approved opening a second application cycle to allow more entities to apply for the remaining $2.05 million allocated to the funding cycle. Round 2 of the 2022 Matching Grant Program opens today and runs through March 10, 2023.

“The two projects that came in during the first application cycle are great examples of how land conservation supports and enriches our communities and ecosystems, by increasing public access to natural spaces and restoring critical resources like waterways and native plant communities,” said James Gore, Chair of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors and President of the Ag + Open Space Board of Directors. “We’re also thrilled to open a second round of funding to support even more entities in providing vibrant and publicly-accessible open spaces within our cities and towns.”

With our contribution of $1.5 million, the Lower Colgan Creek Restoration and Neighborhood Park Land Acquisition project will help the City of Santa Rosa acquire the final property needed to complete their multi-phase restoration plan and expand and enhance a neighborhood park along Colgan Creek in southwest Santa Rosa. Colgan Creek originates in the foothills of Taylor Mountain, flows across the Laguna de Santa Rosa, into the Russian River and eventually to Pacific Ocean. Sections of the creek were relocated and channelized in the 1950s, but in 2002 the Santa Rosa City Council adopted the Lower Colgan Creek Restoration Plan to restore and enhance a 1.3-mile stretch of Lower Colgan Creek, create a new park, and build a pedestrian and bicycle pathway.

Ag + Open Space has helped fund two prior phases of this plan, and with this final phase will have contributed over $2.9 million in total. The first two phases have already led to a healthier seasonal creek ecosystem with native streamside vegetation that supports oaks, native grasses, fish, and birds such as Great Blue Herons, egrets, red-shouldered hawks, and more. Additionally, the current pathway and park provide a place for exercise and outdoor play in an area of town with limited parks and open spaces.

In southwest Petaluma, the 2018 Matching Grant Program cycle awarded a $1 million grant to the Earth Island Institute for the purchase of 47 acres of land, formerly known as Scott Ranch, with the ultimate goal of transferring the property to Sonoma County Regional Parks to expand Helen Putnam Regional Park. Today, our Board approved an additional $450,000 in 2022 Matching Grant Program funding for the Earth Island Institute to use for creek and habitat restoration on the same land, prior to opening it for public access. As part of this project, the Earth Island Institute will build a .7-mile trail across this property to eventually provide a new connection from downtown Petaluma to Helen Putnam Regional Park.

To date, the Matching Grant program has committed nearly $40 million to diverse and innovative projects throughout our county. As with this year’s approved projects, these open spaces help transform communities by connecting people to the natural world so it can continue to help us learn, grow, and thrive.

About Sonoma County Ag + Open Space
Sonoma County Ag + Open Space permanently protects the diverse agricultural, natural resource and scenic open space lands of Sonoma County for future generations. The agency is responsible for the conservation and perpetual stewardship of over 123,000 acres of land throughout our region. These agricultural and open space lands are protected through a quarter-cent sales tax approved by voters in 1990 and reauthorized in 2006. For more information, please visit