Since 1990, we’ve worked to increase appreciation and stewardship of Sonoma Valley’s natural heritage and create measurable benefits in areas of land, water, climate change and biodiversity. More than ever, Sonoma Ecology Center needs your support to move us all towards a better future.
Who We Are
Sonoma Ecology Center works to address challenges related to water supply and quality, open space, rural character, biodiversity, energy, climate change, and a better quality of life for all residents.
We envision a future where people, land, water, and wildlife thrive.
Our mission is to work with our community to identify and lead actions that achieve and sustain ecological health in Sonoma Valley.
How can people, land, water, and wildlife thrive in a fire-adapted landscape?
Watch this video on how we keep people safer while supporting our environment.
We are preparing to conduct another carefully controlled prescribed burn at Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve on May 21, 2021 from 7:00 am – 6:00 pm. Learn more.
We are preparing to conduct another carefully controlled prescribed burn at Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve on May 21, 2021 from 7:00 am – 6:00 pm.
Unplanned wildfires can be devastating, but planned burns can effectively remove excess flammable vegetation, manage invasive plants, and revitalize native plant communities such as the Preserve’s wildflower meadows.
Since 2004, we have worked with the owners of the Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve to co-manage the wildflower meadows and grasslands, oak woodlands, and riparian habitats of the Preserve. This 162-acre property is protected forever against future development, to preserve its beauty and its rich and rare mix of native plants and animals.
Several non-native, invasive plant species grow in the Preserve. Some of them are not edible by cattle, so despite careful summer grazing, their populations continue to expand. Medusahead, for example, is an invasive grass that creates a thick layer of persistent, flammable thatch that smothers native grasses and wildflowers and has a prickly seed head that cattle avoid. A prescribed burn in 2020 at the Preserve made a good start at reducing Medusahead and other invasives. You may have also heard about controlled burns in 2018 at the Bouverie Preserve near Glen Ellen, and in 2016 and 2017 at Pepperwood Preserve, northeast of Santa Rosa, that successfully reduced Medusahead and reduced the burn intensity during the Nuns fire.
We are working with prescribed fire professionals, fire agencies, and air quality agencies to prepare for a safe and effective prescribed burn. Several factors could postpone or cancel the event.
It’s our intent to keep landowners near the Preserve informed. We’ll keep adding to this page as the event gets closer. If you have questions or thoughts you’d like to share, please contact Erica Warren at firstname.lastname@example.org (707) 200-8358.
[caption id="attachment_30367" align="aligncenter" width="1800"] Red Barn Remains. Photo by Sharon Beals[/caption]
5/15/2021: Event is postponed. Future date TBD.
As we reopen, we want to celebrate the park and our supporters with our Around the Park Hike (sometimes known as the Headwaters to Headwaters Hike). Details and ticket numbers will change as the Coronavirus restrictions are modified. Each time has 30 slots as of now. Get your tickets soon.
The hike will follow COVID safety protocols for distancing in place at that date.
The Round the Park Hike will have Two Options:
1. Epic Option: 17.2 miles with 5097 feet of vertical. Start time 7 am.
2. Round Route: 12.3 miles with 3600 feet of vertical. Start Time 9 AM.
The start and finish will be the main day-use parking lot.
The basic route will be down Pony Gate, up Canyon, past Bald Mountain to High Ridge (we’ll turn around at the Red Barn site after lunch), over the ridge on Gray Pine, down Brushy Peaks to Hillside and lastly on the Nature Trail to finish at the main parking lot. The epic option will add Goodspeed to the park boundary after going down Pony Gate.
There will be water and porta-potties along the way. Bring a lunch to enjoy at the Old Red Barn location. We are hoping to have snacks and cold drink or food on drinks at the finish, depending on what the Coronavirus protocols allow at that time, Stay tuned, stay flexible, have fun and support your park!
Ticket price: $75 each.
Underwriting Options: Help us defray the costs of the event and make it a true fundraiser.
Epic Underwriter: $500 (includes a ticket to the hike -Tax Deductible)
Round Route Supporter: $250 (includes a ticket to the hike – Tax Deductible)
The practice of Forest Therapy has been shown to improve health and well-being.
Have you heard about Shinrin-yoku or Forest bathing? Here is an opportunity to take a walk and experience the practice for yourself. Learn techniques to maximize the health benefits and stress reducing qualities of this walking practice. Shinrin-yoku originated in Japan and is gaining popularity in the United States for its documented health benefits.
This practice takes a walk in the woods to another level. A centering and calming restorative practice, it promotes balance and restored vitality through a quality of presence and heightened sensory awareness. Recent articles have been written up in Oprah, Time Magazine, and National Geographic, as well as numerous other publications. Sugarloaf Ridge State Park hosts a Forest Therapy Series as part of its ParkRx Program the 4th Saturday of each month. These walks are led by certified ANFT (Association of Nature and Forest Therapy) practitioners. Visit natureandforesttherapy.org for more info about this practice.
We will hold two walks on May 22nd: 9:30am-12:30pm and 2-5pm. Tickets are only valid for the time selected.
Come to the park for a peaceful hike through the woods! Join our Docents on this fun family hike that is good for all ages. During this 2-mile hike with 400-ft elevation gain, you will learn about Sugarloaf Park, its plants, animals, and history.
This is a free event but does require reservations as we are limiting the event to 12. Meet outside the Visitor Center. We will observe social distancing and mask-wearing. Parking fees apply and heavy rains cancel.
Bring a flashlight and your sense of wonder as you explore the park after dark. This hike begins at the White Barn and heads up either to Bald Mountain or to the viewpoint on Vista Trail, where we will see the moon rise over the Mayacamas and the sun set over Sonoma Valley.
The Bald Mountain route is strenuous and will cover 6.5 miles with 1500 plus of vertical with some steep sections. It leaves the meeting parking lot at 6pm.
The Vista Trail route is a moderate to strenuous 4-mile hike with 700ft of elevation and begins at 7:15pm.
Tickets are $10 for adults or $5 for minors plus a parking fee. Be at the meeting location at least 15 minutes prior to the start of the hike for a prompt departure. Bring your mask, water, snacks, and extra layers for the evening. Parking fees and social distancing apply.
An interactive map of our work in Sonoma Valley.
The Ecology Blog
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Controlled or “prescribed” burns were used by indigenous people for centuries before Europeans arrived here. It is an effective ancient art and science that promotes both fire resiliency and biodiversity. Last year’s prescribed burn of about 30 acres at Van Hoosear...