Land Protection & Preservation

Sonoma Ecology Center has a long track record of successfully protecting Sonoma Valley’s open spaces. We do this by identifying opportunities for preservation, then working with partners to find common ground – literally. To date we have helped protect more than 5,000 acres of Sonoma Valley land by forming new preserves, adding land to existing state or regional parks, or guaranteeing the ongoing protection of key pieces of land.

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park

When the state threatened to close Sugarloaf, a 4,000-acre state park and local treasure, Sonoma Ecology Center pulled together a team of skilled nonprofits to create Team Sugarloaf, which assumed responsibility for this local landmark since 2012. Read More.

Nathanson Creek Preserve

Formerly a trash-filled ditch, Nathanson Creek Preserve is now a ¾-mile greenway with trails and a native plant demo garden, running through the City of Sonoma and alongside two schools, both of which benefit from this living outdoor classroom.

Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve

Van Hoosear is a stunning 163-acre privately owned preserve that is protected forever because of the work of Sonoma Ecology Center and its partners. We manage the preserve with the landowner and lead public walks each spring through its spectacular wildflower displays.

Additional Land Protection Victories

Sonoma Ecology Center played a critical role in finding solutions with landowners and agencies that resulted in protecting the following places that Sonoma Valley visitors and residents, both human and animal, cherish:

  • Montini Open Space Preserve
  • Sonoma Overlook Trail
  • Calabazas Creek Open Space Preserve
  • 600-acre Addition to Jack London State Historic Park
  • Curreri
  • Stuart Creek Run

Contact us to discuss our land preservation capabilities!

Land Protection Staff

Richard Dale

Richard Dale

Executive Director

BA Environmental Policy, UC Santa Cruz

Richard has nearly 30 years of experience in environmental policy and nonprofit management. With expertise in land negotiation, he has worked with multiple interest groups, and encouraged policies to establish protected lands. He co-founded Sonoma Ecology Center in 1990 and has been director since 1992.

Caitlin Cornwall

Caitlin Cornwall

Research Program Manager

BA Integrative Biology, UC Berkeley; MS Botany and Ecology, Arizona State University

Caitlin has been with Sonoma Ecology Center since 1998. Her expertise includes indicator-based reporting systems, climate adaptation, technical partnerships for local-scale multiple stakeholders, multi-benefit water management strategy, wildlife habitat connectivity, and riparian ecology.

Community Partners

  • California State Parks
  • California State Parks Foundation
  • City of Sonoma
  • Landpaths
  • Robert Ferguson Observatory
  • Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District
  • Sonoma Land Trust
  • Sonoma Overlook Trail Stewards
  • Sonoma County Trails Council
  • Valley of the Moon Natural History Association
  • United Camps, Conferences & Retreats