Ecology Blog

  • New Rains, New Landscapes this October
    This October is shaping up to be much nicer than last year’s! The month announced itself with a strong, warm rainstorm, bringing an unexpected 1.6 inches of rain to Sonoma Valley. That was enough to activate the seed bank, causing grasses to pop up and reducing (though not eliminating) the chance of further wildfires this season. It also gave us a lovely little rainbow, as seen above from Montini Overlook. Then on Oct. 8 – the anniversary of the start of last year’s fires – friends and neighbors packed Sebastiani Theatre for a special screening of “Wilder Than Wild,” a sobering documentary on wildfire and resilience. The event was well attended, the film timely, and the panel discussion afterward fascinating and encouraging. Overall the event was a great success, and reminded us, again, […]
  • Honoring the Heritage Maple of Sugarloaf
    Hundreds of years ago, a bigleaf maple sprouted on the banks of Sonoma Creek in what is now Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. Today, as this magnificent Heritage Maple enters its twilight years, we are inviting the public to join us for an informative walk, a fascinating ceremony and refreshments in honor of its storied past – and of the post-fire renewal taking place all around it. The event is free and open to all. The maple, thought to be between 300 and 400 years old, was a sapling well before Europeans occupied California. Today it’s in its final stages, and last year’s fires dealt it a potentially lethal blow. And yet the burned park around it has sprung back to life, and within a year was fully reopened to the public thanks to Sugarloaf’s supporters and volunteers. “Just imagine the […]
  • Healing ‘Color of Emotion’ Art Performance Comes to Sonoma Valley
    As part of our series of events commemorating the fires of October 2017, Sonoma Ecology Center invited international artists Anna Senno and Olga de la Iglesia to bring their unique and therapeutic art performance, “The Color of Emotion,” to Sonoma Valley – and two free performances are now set for this weekend. All Sonoma Valley residents of high school age and older, particularly those still grappling with the memories of last year’s wildfires, are encouraged to attend either or both of these fascinating events. The first performance is Saturday, Oct. 13 at Sonoma Garden Park. The second performance is Sunday, Oct. 14 at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. Both are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a break from 2 to 3 p.m., and participants may arrive at any point in the proceedings. (The events are free […]
  • Film Screening, Art Performances and Fire Walks Mark Anniversary of Wildfires
    On Oct. 8, 2017, several fires ignited around the North Bay including in Sonoma Valley. They spread quickly and uncontrollably, burning huge swaths of land and turning the lives of Valley residents upside-down. Exactly one year later, on Monday, Oct. 8, Sonoma Ecology Center is marking the anniversary with an exclusive film screening at Sebastiani Theater – one of several events we’re hosting in recognition of the wildfires that burned more than 30,000 acres and a thousand structures in Sonoma Valley alone. The screening of “Wilder Than Wild,” a documentary film on wildfire and its causes, begins with refreshments at 6 p.m. and concludes with a thought-provoking panel discussion. Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano, fire ecologist Jared Childress, and Sonoma Ecology Center’s own Caitlin […]
  • How Wise Land Use Can Make Us Safer
    The facts are depressing and disturbing: across California wildfires will be a part of our lives every summer, and floods every winter, for the foreseeable future. Overall they are expected to increase in frequency and severity and – for any specific location, such as Sonoma Valley – in unpredictability as well. That’s bad news, but there is good news too. There are many things we can do, societally and as individuals, to mitigate the dangers of fire and flood and even make them work for us rather than against us. That’s because, by responding fully to these dangers, we will bring ourselves essential benefits we needed anyway – reliable water, clean air, more parks and open space and natural beauty, better functioning neighborhoods and less poverty, to name a few. Both fire and flood have […]
  • County Seeks Input on Storm Water Resources Plan
    Residents of Sonoma Valley now have a chance to weigh in on a plan to help us manage the coming rains – which bring with them the possibility of floods. Called the Storm Water Resources Plan, its intent is to manage flooding, recharge groundwater, reduce soil erosion, and improve water quality for residents of the Petaluma River and Sonoma Creek watersheds. A draft of the SWRP – consisting of 60 proposed projects within the two watersheds – now awaits input from residents of southern Sonoma County. The public comment period closes September 17. The 60 proposed projects are in the conceptual phase, going no farther until the public has weighed in. That’s where you come in. Residents of southern Sonoma County, including Sonoma Valley, are asked to examine the draft Storm Water Resources […]
  • Summer Science Campers Spent Their Days Outside
    Sonoma Ecology Center’s educators are wowed by the huge success of this year’s Summer Science Camps. An outpouring of positive feedback from campers and parents alike has confirmed for us that we are on the right track. “He had the most wonderful time at Creek Camp,” wrote one parent. “I don’t need to tell you how important this work you are doing is for the children. Thank you so much!” “My son … was on your Intro to Backpacking adventure last week and he loved it,” wrote another parent. “He came home and said it was the best camp he has ever done. It was pretty awesome to listen to him talk about his experience and hear and feel his enthusiasm for something new.” Based at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park and Sonoma Garden Park, our Summer Science Camps fill the summer days with outdoor […]
  • VIDEO: The Sugarloaf Bears Are Back
    Our motion-activated cameras caught this beautiful black bear nosing its way around Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, not far from the Red Barn, in mid-July. This is the first bear seen in the park since the October 2017 wildfires, which burned more than 28 percent of Sugarloaf.   […]
  • Traveling the Electric Highway: Part III
    Sonoma Ecology Center Executive Director Richard Dale and his family are enjoying a road trip to British Columbia – and they’re making the drive in their all-electric Chevrolet Bolt EV. What follows is part three of Richard’s chronicle of the highs and lows of taking the Electric Highway from Sonoma to British Columbia. (Click here to read part one and here to read part two.) By Richard Dale Day 6. July 4 – Seattle Our friends in Seattle didn’t have a convenient way for us to charge the Bolt, so next morning, July 4th, I found two fast chargers within a mile or so of where we were staying, both on Harvard Street. The first, slightly closer one located in a parking garage, was a ChargePoint unit that worked well for 20 minutes and then stopped. The attendant I reached by phone reset the […]
  • Traveling the Electric Highway: Part II
    Sonoma Ecology Center Executive Director Richard Dale and his family are enjoying a road trip to British Columbia – and they’re making the drive in their all-electric Chevrolet Bolt EV. What follows is part two of Richard’s chronicle of the highs and lows of taking the Electric Highway from Sonoma to British Columbia. (Click here to read part one.) By Richard Dale Days 2-3. June 30 to July 1 – Ashland We stayed with a friend while in Ashland, and hooked up the Bolt to a 110-volt source near her driveway. (We’d brought a portable, 15-amp, level 2 charger and a 25-foot extension cord that could also use normal electrical outlets in a pinch. But her 220-volt power source turned out to be in another building behind the house, so we resorted to the 110-volt source.) In the morning, 10 hours […]