Balanced land management at Paula Lane Open Space Preserve

April 27, 2023

Posted in: News Articles

Paula Lane Open Space Preserve, an 11-acre grassland in northwestern Petaluma, and is one of several community open space preserves protected by Ag + Open Space through our Matching Grant Program.

In 2012, we partnered with the City of Petaluma, who at the time was working with the Paula Lane Action Network (PLAN), to help the City purchase and own the land for preservation of important wildlife habitat, organic agriculture and community gardens, public access and outdoor education programs.

A true multi-benefit property, Paula Lane is home to many wildlife species, including the American badger – a species of special concern, which means that it is broadly considered sufficiently rare so that it requires special consideration and/or protection. As with all of our easements that include public access, special care has and will continue to be given to finding a balance between how visitors can explore the preserve while also protecting sensitive habitats.

Since this land was also protected to offer space for community members to observe and explore the natural world in their neighborhood, the project includes the installation of an ADA-accessible trail, viewing areas and benches, bike parking, and a community garden, along with broader restoration work to support the plants and wildlife who call it home.

In addition to providing wildlife habitat and space for people to get outside, there is also a history of agriculture on this land. To continue this tradition, we have been working with the City of Petaluma and  California Department of Fish and Wildlife to create a plan for grazing animals to help with vegetation management, both for fire risk reduction and for natural resource protection.

Grazing can help remove plants, often invasive or otherwise overly aggressive species, that can build up and become fuel for wildfire or otherwise crowd out native plants. Grazing has become a very popular tool for managing vegetation across the state, and other land managers in the region have found grazing to be an effective tool in areas with sensitive animal habitats.

Paula Lane Open Space Preserve is an excellent example of how protected lands within neighborhoods and urban areas can provide habitat for wildlife, open space to explore, opportunities for resilience, and so much more.