Ecology Blog

  • 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 […]
  • Sustainable Sonoma Honored with $10K Impact100 Grant
    One of Sonoma Ecology Center’s proudest achievements over the past few years is spearheading Sustainable Sonoma, which innovates the way local business and health organizations, nonprofits, labor groups, government agencies and other stakeholders work together in solving Sonoma Valley’s most difficult long-term problems. That’s why we’re so pleased with the recognition (and grant money) awarded to Sustainable Sonoma last Saturday by Impact100. As a finalist for the Impact100 Sonoma grant, Sustainable Sonoma received $10,000 in support of our efforts to tackle housing, climate resiliency and other issues on the road to sustainability. And one of our core partners, La Luz Center, received the full $100,000 grant. Congratulations La Luz! As SEC Research Program Manager Caitlin Cornwall, who […]
  • Spring Gleaming
    Poppies are popping and lupines are leaping at the Nathanson Creek Preserve Flood Plain, located on East MacArthur Street near Broadway. This Sonoma Ecology Center project demonstrates how California cities can create multiple benefits along waterways, like terraces that can help absorb storm water, recharge groundwater, help migrating fish, and create habitat for birds and other wildlife.   […]
  • Sustainable Sonoma Adds New Listening Session
    In its quest for a new and collaborative way of tackling Sonoma Valley’s biggest problems, Sustainable Sonoma is continuing its listening tour of interest groups throughout the Valley, with the next listening session scheduled for the evening of June 1 at the Sonoma Community Center. This meeting is geared towards the southern Sonoma Valley – Carneros, City of Sonoma, Temelec, Vineburg, Schellville, etc. – but all Valley residents are invited to attend. Childcare and translation services will be provided. The purpose of the listening sessions is to gather community input about the future of our Valley. Already, organizers have heard from the Springs community, Sonoma Valley High School teens, the Affordable Housing Group, the Tourism Improvement District and the Visitors Bureau. More […]
  • Doug McConnell Turns Camera on Valley’s Post-Fire Landscape
    We love Doug McConnell, and not just because he once visited us at Sonoma Garden Park. For decades McConnell has been the Bay Area’s tour guide, showing generations of viewers all the people and places – especially natural places – that make the Bay Area great. His current show, OpenRoad with Doug McConnell, has more than once brought him to Sonoma Valley – and in a recent episode titled “Sonoma Fire Lessons,” McConnell examines a few Valley landscapes that were scorched by the October wildfires, and expresses amazement and delight at how quickly the land is healing. “This resilient California landscape,” McConnel notes, “is teaching us that it depends on fire for its periodic rebirth and renewal. And that if we manage our beloved natural environments wisely, even sometimes prescribing […]
  • SEC’s John Roney Honored by State for Heroism
    We’re very proud to announce that John Roney, park manager at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park and a Sonoma Ecology Center employee, was honored with a California State Senate resolution at the Capitol on May 7 by state senators Mike McGuire and Bill Dodd for his heroic response to the October 2017 wildfires. On that first frightening night of Oct. 8, high winds caused the fires to spread so quickly that campers in the park and residents of nearby Adobe Canyon Road were caught unawares – and some may have died had John and other park staff not risked their own lives to evacuate the area. As Sen. McGuire stated from the Senate floor, “Mr. Roney, a former Boy Scout of course, and a retired United States Army colonel, jumped into action. He evacuated 50 to 60 campers scattered throughout a dozen […]
  • Valley Forum: Toward a Sustainable Future
    The warmth of spring is finally reaching out across Sonoma, bringing with it impossibly green fields and bursts of color as wildflowers show up in quantities we haven’t seen in years. It’s a stark counterpoint to the bleak landscapes of last winter after the fires, a visual reminder how nature can heal and restore life and beauty, even from ashes. We need this reminder. This is one of the hardest years to have witnessed in our Valley. Over 30,000 acres, 28 percent, of the land here burned in the fires, along with over a thousand structures. Thousands in our community were displaced, and many lost everything. To a person, we have a story, and this event will likely remain one of the biggest stories of our community’s deep history. We’re still writing it. One part of this story is that we […]
  • Sonoma Valley Wildlife Corridor Continues to Expand
    Recently, our friends at Sonoma Land Trust announced acquisition of a 40-acre property near Hood Mountain Regional Park. The rugged and undeveloped canyon land, home to breeding steelhead and “the last stand of redwoods in the upper Santa Rosa Creek watershed,” augments the already indispensable Sonoma Valley Wildlife Corridor – a cornerstone of our local environment which Sonoma Ecology Center played an important role in creating. As described in a recent blog post, the amazing Christy Vreeland, a longtime volunteer at the Ecology Center, had a vision in the 1990s that a wildlife corridor could connect undeveloped land from Sonoma Mountain to the Mayacamas and beyond. We brought together the community, elected officials, and state and local agencies to create the Wildlife Corridor and […]
  • Earth Week 2018 a Celebration of Spring
    Spring is all about renewal, a theme near and dear to the hearts of Sonoma Valley residents these days as they recover from last October’s wildfires. Maybe that’s why they’ve been so appreciative of our fire recovery work of recent months, and why our Fire Recovery Walks are always so well attended. The wonders of spring – the green meadows and hillsides, colorful blooms, pleasant rain showers, and of course the wildflowers – serve to enhance that feeling of rebirth and recovery, right when we needed it most. So what better way to usher in spring’s bounty than with an Earth Week celebration – a series of events, activities, partnerships and calls to action designed to bring our Valley together around the appreciation and enjoyment of Earth’s gifts. As our Earth Week 2018 listings […]