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 responsibility for this local landmark.

2. Providing Science Education

Over 12,000 K-12 students have benefited from hands-on lessons in biodiversity, watershed science, environmental science, and field trips with our team of educators. Our teaching reaches nearly every 2nd, 4th, and 5th grade student in Sonoma Valley.

3. Creating the Valley’s Best Hikes

Hundreds of acres of protected open space that Sonoma Ecology Center has helped preserve – in places such as Sonoma Overlook Trail, Montini Open Space Preserve and Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve – offer some of the Valley’s most rewarding hikes. Volunteer stewards keep the network of trails clean and safe, while our docents lead hikes and wildflower walks.

4. Founding Sonoma Garden Park

Our team founded and manages this 6.1-acre working farm – a local model of sustainable agriculture, an education center and a vibrant gathering place for the community. Located at 19996 7th Street East, Sonoma Garden Park is open to the public for gardening classes, harvest markets, summer camps, community garden plots, and much more.

5. Preparing our Community for Climate Impacts

Our researchers are leaders in innovative climate partnerships. We bring cutting-edge science about the local impacts of climate change to government, nonprofit and business leaders to make climate-informed decisions about managing water, protecting people, and safeguarding our quality of life. We’ve built effective partnerships like the North Bay Climate Adaptation Initiative and the Sonoma County Climate Resilience Team that are models around the country, and we led the first-ever “Roadmap for Climate Resilience in Sonoma County.”

6. Protecting Wildlife and Their Habitat

We established the Sonoma Valley Wildlife Corridor in 1997 to protect diverse habitats for deer, mountain lions, coyote, bobcats, and black bears, as well as threatened species such as steelhead trout and northern spotted owl. We restore salmonid habitat, replant native plant communities, manage stormwater and control erosion, and safeguard streamflow for aquatic wildlife.

7. Creating Nathanson Creek Preserve

Once polluted and neglected, nearly a mile of Nathanson Creek that runs through Sonoma became a Sonoma Ecology Center project in 1994 and now features improved fish habitat, native plant demonstration gardens, water-wise landscaping and a floodplain. Our regular creek clean-ups bring the community together around stewardship of our local watershed.

8. Understanding Sonoma Valley

Our researchers and technicians have gathered and analyzed volumes of data about the health of our Valley’s natural systems. With this information, we are able to inform policy and help decision makers make better choices. By looking to the past to inform current and future choices, we can take actions that help restore and sustain Sonoma Valley’s ecological health.

9. Planting Trees in the Springs

Our EnviroLeader program is repopulating the Springs with hundreds of trees through our Trees for the Springs project. The teenage students in this program identify locations and plant new trees along the Highway 12 corridor. In the process, they gain essential job and life skills by learning about civic engagement, urban forestry, native plants and horticulture.

10. Saving Sonoma Developmental Center

We are a core member of the SDC Coalition, working for the permanent protection of the open land on the SDC property and the essential benefits it provides, such as habitat and movement corridors for wildlife, clean and ample drinking water and a place of beauty for the public to enjoy.

Our work is made possible thanks to the support of community members like you. If you are able to help us continue to improve the wellbeing of Sonoma Valley and its residents, please do so by going to