Ecology Blog

  • 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.   https://youtu.be/IAMCwTptJVs   […]
  • 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 […]
  • A Summer to Remember at Sugarloaf
    July is a time for hiking, camping and enjoying the great outdoors – all things that Sugarloaf Ridge State Park was made for. On July 4, park leaders put the summer season into full gear with our Fourth of July Fireworks Hike, a perennial favorite for locals of all ages interested in settling in at the top of Bald Mountain for an evening of good food, glorious sunset views and fireworks displays in every direction. Like every year, the sold-out hike was a huge hit for local families. But there’s still plenty of summer left to enjoy, so why not spend some of it camping with friends and family at Sugarloaf? Our clean and level campsites are situated in a large meadow bordered by a gurgling stream and a hillside forest, with Sugarloaf’s gorgeous peaks rising behind. This summer the camping […]
  • Traveling the Electric Highway: from Sonoma to BC in an EV
    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 Richard’s chronicle of the highs and lows of taking the so-called Electric Highway – a network of EV charging stations along the West Coast – from Sonoma to British Columbia. By Richard Dale This is a not-so-careful account of our journey into the unknown world of long distance electric vehicle travel, from Sonoma, California, to Ganges Harbor on Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada. It is the result of a family conversation about how to travel with a lower carbon footprint and still maximize things that we like to do on our vacations: see beautiful places, especially natural ones; hike, swim, […]
  • SDC’s Future Is Sonoma Valley’s Future
    It is no small thing to close a 135-year-old, 860-acre facility. The closure of Sonoma Developmental Center is a complex, multi-layered process with many stakeholders. Sonoma Ecology Center has taken a keen interest in this process. The majority of this land is critical Sonoma Valley open space, with vital habitat, water, and wildlife resources, which it is our mission to protect and preserve. Plus, our main offices are located there! This is why we’ve been closely involved in discussions about SDC’s future, pushing for a large area of contiguous open space from Sonoma Mountain to Lake Suttonfield and Highway 12 – land that can and should enhance the Sonoma Valley Wildlife Corridor – to remain fully protected. We provided our partners at Sonoma County’s Ag and Open Space District with […]
  • Sonoma Overlook Trail Gets a Makeover
    One of the Valley’s favorite hiking trails, Sonoma Overlook Trail, is currently getting some important work done to protect it from soil erosion and other hazards. The Overlook Trail is a collaborative project of Sonoma Ecology Center and the City of Sonoma and is managed by the all-volunteer SOT Stewards. The trail has been closed to the public since June 17 as the upgrades – including stone steps at the main trailhead and several rebuilt switchbacks and junctions – take place. As the City of Sonoma states in a May blog post, SOT Stewards “worked with noted trail designer Don Beers to identify issues and develop solutions. Beers, who has worked on Montini Preserve and other trails in this region, based his recommendations on trail sustainability principles.” The 14-week […]
  • The Right Path for Sonoma Valley
    As the grass turns brown and the days get warmer, some may be glancing nervously at the hills with a thought to last fall’s wildfires. The question asked many times since those fires, which burned nearly a quarter of a million acres including 28 percent of Sonoma Valley, is: How can we prevent this from happening again? It’s a simple question, with complicated answers, and we at Sonoma Ecology Center are giving a lot of thought and study to it. That’s because Sonoma Valley, as a community, is currently at a crossroads. People who are managing land, rebuilding burned structures, or guiding land use policy here are making countless important decisions that will affect Sonoma Valley’s future for a long time to come. This leads to a lot of “do’s and don’ts” when it comes to land use. For […]
  • Three Ways You Can Help Fight Invasive Weeds
    Every spring, your local ecologists at Sonoma Ecology Center take on a persistent problem that threatens native species throughout Sonoma Valley and California: invasive weeds From French broom to yellow star-thistle, these non-natives displace California’s native plants and threaten the animals and insects that rely on them. That’s why we’re increasing our efforts to uproot them – and we could use your help. Below are three ways local residents of all ages can help us put a lid on this seasonal threat to Sonoma Valley’s beautiful native landscape. They include both education and volunteer opportunities and – in the case of Van Hoosear – offer a chance to hike through a protected Sonoma Valley property.   Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve This is a rare opportunity to experience the […]