Ecology Blog

  • Tracking Streamflow in Sonoma Valley
    How’s your local stream flowing? At Sonoma Ecology Center we’ve been watching the streams closely, and in some cases – along specific streams where landowners gave us permission – we’ve set up gauges that are generating useful data on streamflow in Sonoma Valley. It’s all part of our Streamflow Stewardship Program, launched in partnership with Trout Unlimited with the goal of creating a plan to enhance streamflow in the upper Sonoma Creek Watershed. Better streamflow would not only support steelhead and other aquatic wildlife, but improve the water supply for the Valley’s human residents as well. So far we’ve installed five gauges, and we’ll be looking for three more locations next summer. The hosts of these gauges say they’re happy to take part in solving the problem of low streamflow, […]
  • Sustainable Sonoma Offers a Better Path Forward
    At times the problems facing our Valley can seem insurmountable. But we know from experience that with enough patience, commitment and teamwork, there is no obstacle that can’t be overcome. Which is why we’re proud to announce a new initiative dedicated to making our home a better place today and for future generations: Sustainable Sonoma. Sonoma Valley, with its mild weather, rural character and beautiful open spaces, remains one of California’s best places to live. But concerned citizens are realizing that without better coordination among its many agencies, nonprofits, businesses and individuals, the Valley is in danger of being overwhelmed by a worsening housing market, environmental degradation and other challenges. These concerns prompted local leaders from the realms of […]
  • SBI Builds ‘Forest to Farm’ Biochar Operation in Mendocino
    The reach of our Sonoma Biochar Initiative continues to grow, with SBI director Raymond Baltar – who is also executive director of the newly formed California Biochar Association – now making weekly trips to Mendocino County as a project manager for Redwood Forest Foundation, Inc., or RFFI. Up in Mendo, Raymond has been braving rough terrain, inclement weather and even mudslides in order to get a new project off the ground for RFFI in which overabundant tanoaks in the 50,000-acre Usal Forest are being turned into biochar – making more room for the forest’s redwoods and conifers while producing a substance that is highly valuable to growers because it saves water, improves soil health and, as a bonus, sequesters carbon. “Basically I’ve been running a startup,” Raymond said. RFFI purchased […]
  • 30 Ways to Honor World Environment Day Locally
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  • Team Sugarloaf Turns 5!
    Five years ago, California’s State Parks system was hurting financially, leading to a decision to close several of its parks including Annadel, Jack London and the 3,900-acre Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. But Sonoma Ecology Center came to the rescue, forming a group called Team Sugarloaf which reopened the park on June 1, 2012. Sugarloaf has remained open and thriving ever since. Team Sugarloaf is a group of five nonprofits with Sonoma Ecology Center at the lead, assembled in order to take over operations at Sugarloaf and keep the park strong both fiscally and environmentally. SEC still works closely with State Parks, but day-to-day management now falls on us and our four valued partners: United Camps Conferences and Retreats, Sonoma County Trails Council, Robert Ferguson Observatory and […]
  • Sonoma Garden Park’s Seasonal Harvest Market Starts this Weekend
    Sonoma Garden Park is kicking off its seasonal Harvest Market this Saturday, May 20 – and aside from the usual variety of fresh locally grown produce in a rustic and beautiful setting, the market will also feature members of UC Master Gardeners of Sonoma County, who will be on hand to answer any and all of your gardening questions. The Harvest Market, which runs every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. through October, is known locally for its fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers and eggs, all harvested at Sonoma’s six-acre demonstration farm. Spero olive oil, produced by a local Sonoma family, also is available at $20 per bottle. But besides the fresh produce, there’s another great reason for locals to visit Sonoma Garden Park on Saturday mornings, and that’s free advice from the Master […]
  • How Our Research Helps Sonoma Valley Thrive
    When Sonoma County’s Permit and Resource Management Department was tasked with reducing sediment pollution from roads in the Sonoma Creek watershed, they knew that clear, precise data would be essential to getting the job done. Sonoma Ecology Center was able to help. Our researchers assessed 350 culverts throughout Sonoma Valley, flagging those that are most likely to dump sediment into creeks, and helping PRMD know where to focus its efforts. It’s just one example of how research conducted by Sonoma Ecology Center, and the data we provide, makes the work of public agencies easier and more effective. Over the years our researchers have monitored a variety of factors, such as pathogen levels and pesticide levels in Sonoma Creek, sending samples to a lab and posting the results in state […]
  • Today Is Our Favorite Day of the Year
    It was the end of Earth Day, 1990, when a few local environmentalists gathered together to talk about the day and about Sonoma Valley’s future. This small group – Richard Dale among them – saw that our Valley could use some guidance in dealing with its environmental challenges. As a result of this conversation, Sonoma Ecology Center was born. The years since have been busy ones, with SEC playing a vital role in preserving our open spaces (including Montini, Van Hoosear and the Sonoma Valley Wildlife Corridor), educating more than 12,000 local youths, founding and operating Sonoma Garden Park, reopening and operating Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, and many other successes. That’s why every Earth Day we feel a special sense of accomplishment and optimism. Small actions can make a big […]
  • 10 Ways SEC Makes a Difference
    Earth Day, April 22, is Sonoma Ecology Center’s de facto birthday. And every spring, as the next Earth Day nears, we always get to thinking about the many ways SEC has improved the wellbeing of our Valley and its residents – and how, with your support, we’ll continue to do so for years to come. Below are 10 ways that our work has made a positive impact here in Sonoma Valley over the past 27 years. We’re proud of these accomplishments, which show that by working together, our community can overcome any obstacle. 1. Saving Sugarloaf Ridge State Park When the state threatened to close Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, a 4,000-acre state park and local treasure, Sonoma Ecology Center pulled together a team of skilled nonprofits to create Team Sugarloaf, which reopened the park in 2012 and assumed […]
  • Courtesy photoStatement on SVHS student Brandon Barmore
    Sonoma Ecology Center is deeply saddened by the loss of Brandon Barmore, a Sonoma Valley High School student who died tragically on March 26 in Nicaragua. We extend our sincerest sympathies to the Barmore family. Among his many talents, Brandon was an aspiring beekeeper and worked with our staff at Sonoma Garden Park, where he kept a beehive as part of his senior project. Brandon was so adept at beekeeping that he was scheduled to co-host our Beekeeping Seminar this Saturday. (As testament to the health of his bees, Brandon’s hive split into two colonies earlier this week.) SEC educator Tony Passantino, who knew Brandon, noted that, “Last year he had a project to only eat things that he helped grow, so he’d pull shifts at the garden and take some produce and eggs home afterwards.” It is […]