Ecology Blog

  • VIDEO: Sonoma Creek Falls Is Raging
    Thanks to the recent rains, Sonoma Creek Falls is currently putting on quite a show (see video below). This beautiful cascade in Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, at the headwaters of Sonoma Creek, is easy to reach and always rushing after winter rains. To get there, take the main road just past the lower gate into Sugarloaf, then immediately park on the right in one of two pullouts. An easy trail begins between these two pullouts – take that for just a quarter-mile to reach the falls. Please be very careful around the creek, and drive slowly!     […]
  • Nathanson Volunteers Honor King’s Legacy
    Service was a big part of Martin Luther King’s message, which is why many celebrate his legacy by volunteering on MLK Day. Last Jan. 16 was no exception, as Sonoma Ecology Center’s Restoration crew organized a large group of volunteers at Nathanson Creek Preserve, there to help in the ongoing work of restoring this lovely creekside park. An estimated 50 volunteers turned out, representing the Boys & Girls Club, a leadership group from Altimira Middle School’s Boys & Girls Club, the Ecology Club from Adele Harrison Middle School, some Earth Club members from Sonoma Valley High School, plus a few other unaffiliated community members and as always, our own EnviroLeaders. With all their help, we are able to get 200 native plants into the ground while removing “a ton” of invasive […]
  • Water: Too Much in Winter, Too Little in Summer
    The big storms hitting our region this winter have been unusually powerful. And one of them was just plain unusual. The Dec. 15 storm which caused some minor flooding around the Valley was stronger here than at the coast, and it dumped more rain in unexpected places. It was a bigger storm, relatively speaking, for the Nathanson Creek watershed that surrounds the City of Sonoma than for Sonoma Creek’s watershed, and bigger for Sonoma Creek than for the Russian River. (Such things are easier to measure now thanks to a new stream-flow gauge on Nathanson Creek, which will inform planning for building, roads, water supply and habitat protection. Thanks to Sonoma County Water Agency and USGS for funding that! Another permanent stream-flow gauge on Sonoma Creek at Agua Caliente Road has recorded […]
  • How green was my Valley (in 2016)?
    We’re very proud of this op-ed piece which ran last week in the Sonoma Index-Tribune. Sonoma Valley’s environmental accomplishments of 2016 weren’t small, and they demonstrate how patience and dedication can pay off. They also provide a positive example for those of us ready to tackle 2017 in the same spirit of hopefulness. The full article is copied below, with original posting here. Many thanks to the Index-Tribune for running it!   Valley Forum: How green was my Valley (in 2016)? By Don Frances SPECIAL TO THE INDEX-TRIBUNE | January 2, 2017 Ask environmentalists for reasons to celebrate 2016, and they might mention the Paris climate agreement. Then they might scratch their heads, stare at the ceiling for a while, and tell you that’s all they can think of just […]
  • From ‘Side Hunt’ to Christmas Bird Count: How Citizen Science Won the Day
    In the late 1800s, an unfortunate holiday tradition was hastening the extinction of bird species all over North America. The Side Hunt, held each year on Christmas Day, was a festive slaughter whereby armed participants wandered the countryside shooting at every bird and small animal they saw. At the end of the hunt, teams tallied their kills to find out which side won. Needless to say, birds were not among the winners – and conservationists, including famed ornithologist Frank M. Chapman, became increasingly alarmed at the resulting destruction. So they decided to tweak the Side Hunt tradition, proposing that participants arm themselves with field glasses rather than rifles, and that they count the birds rather than kill them. So it was that the very first Christmas Bird Count was held […]
  • Salmon in Sonoma Creek, Part II
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  • Salmon in Sonoma Creek!
    This video shows the ripples of some sizable Chinook – at least three of them, each about two feet long – seen on Nov. 11 in Sonoma Creek near the Glen Ellen Bridge. They splashed around there for a while before heading further upstream to spawn. Chinook have been known to spawn in Sonoma Creek once there’s enough rain to create the right streamflow. Anyone who happens to see Chinook in the streams of Sonoma Valley is asked to let us know when/where and other details by emailing don@sonomaecologycenter.org. […]
  • A Post-Election Message from our Executive Director, Richard Dale
    It looks as if the outcome of this bitter election season will be a president, congress and judiciary with new plans for America, plans that might include some hard times ahead for the natural world and the rules and institutions we’ve built to help care for it. However, even if things seem dark ahead, now is the very time we need to be bright and clear about our work, about what we are doing to make the world a better place. My experience, limited as it is, suggests that right now there is even greater need for our work, and that others will eventually see this and turn to it. What is that work? Learning about how nature — land, climate, water and biodiversity — operates at the human scale; teaching our community, especially the next generation, about this natural world and our place in […]
  • Yes on Measures K, J for a Better Sonoma
    With so much zaniness surrounding the upcoming election, it can be hard to stay focused on the local races. But here are two measures that must not be missed, and that we at Sonoma Ecology Center strongly support: MEASURE K This one is near and dear to our hearts, and not only because Sonoma Ecology Center helped draft a portion of it. Described by the Greenbelt Alliance as “the most important green measure in Sonoma County this year,” Measure K would extend our county’s preexisting community separators for another 20 years. It would also expand them in places like Sonoma Development Center, growing this crucial greenbelt to 53,576 acres countywide. What exactly are community separators? They are swaths of open space and farmland between our cities and towns (this interactive map shows […]
  • SEC in NYC for Climate Week!
    These are heady days for locals who have dedicated much of their time and energy to making Sonoma County and Sonoma Valley better prepared to deal with climate change. Sonoma Ecology Center’s Caitlin Cornwall is among them, part of the Sonoma County Climate Resilience Team in New York City today to be recognized by the White House for its efforts. Caitlin and the team – which includes Sonoma County supervisors James Gore and Efren Carrillo, the Water Agency, the Regional Climate Protection Authority, and others – will be honored today for the team’s work on a new initiative the White House is helping to launch called Partnership for Resilience and Preparedness, or PREP. PREP brings government, business and nonprofit partners together to develop effective new tools for climate response, […]