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. Supporting our work enables us 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.
Volunteers play a crucial role at keeping Sugarloaf Ridge State Park open and accessible to all! Help Sugarloaf with trail restoration work by coming to our every-other-Thursday Volunteer Trail Crew. Activities include bridge and step construction, installing signs, clearing, lifting, carrying, and hiking.
Bring gloves, hat, and water that you can carry hands-free (i.e. bring a backpack). Wear long pants, boots or sturdy shoes and sunscreen. Long sleeves are suggested as poison oak is present. We have tools and trained crew leaders with tasks for all. Minors must be accompanied by a responsible adult. We will provide tools, and if allowed, lunch.
If you are a current Sugarloaf volunteer, log onto Better Impact to sign up. First-time volunteers are welcomed and encouraged to formally join our volunteer program if they’d like to support us more frequently. Start here to become a volunteer.
Join Sugarloaf docent Dana Glei for a ~2.3-mile hike (~300’ elevation change) aimed at Beginner Birders. We will begin with a short lesson on some interesting points about bird anatomy. Throughout the hike, we will give you pointers for identifying particular species by sight, sound, flight pattern, and/or behavior.
On the hike, we are likely to see Acorn Woodpeckers, CA Scrub Jays, Dark-Eyed Juncos, Towhees (California and perhaps Spotted), Western Bluebird, Black Phoebes, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, CA Quails, American Crows, Turkey Vultures, and Red-Tailed Hawks. We might see one of 6 other species of woodpeckers, Oak Titmouse, Golden-Crowned Sparrow, Yellow‑Rumped Warbler (aka “Butterbutt”), Steller’s Jay, and/or Raven.
Meet at the White Barn. We’ll start off hiking toward the Observatory and then take Lower Bald Mt. to the Creekside trail. Then, we will head to the back deck of the Visitor’s Center, which is a good site for birding. We’ll backtrack to the Creekside trail and continue on the Hillside trail to the lookout vista. Then, we will return along Hillside to the White Barn.Tickets are $10 for general audiences, $5 for students, youth (12-17 year olds), Sugarloaf members, Sugarloaf volunteers, and free for children under 12. Bring water, sun protection, binoculars, and if you’d like, a snack and a bird identification guide. Wear layers because it is likely to be cold in the early morning.
If you want to use iNaturalist, Merlin (helpful for identifying birds by sound or picture), or eBird apps, make sure they are already installed on your phone before you arrive for the hike. Parking fees apply. Heavy rains cancel. In case of rain, we’ll reschedule for Sat, Feb 25 for the same time.
Ease of access: Lower Bald Mt Trail is a single track trail not accessible by wheelchair or stroller.
The Hiking for Fitness Series is back! Join us for the Beginner Hiking for Fitness program, where the leaders will guide you on a series of 8 weekly hikes with the challenge increasing each week. Before the first hike, the leader will discuss proper shoes, hydration, incorporating hiking poles, proper pacing, etc. The group’s final hike aims for the long route up Vista Trail, where hikers can enjoy the beautiful vistas.
The following is a list of possible routes specifically selected for this hiking series:
1) Sat 1/7 — White Barn to Uranus, 2.2 miles, 80 ft elev [meet @ white barn]
2) Sat 1/14 – Lower Bald & Creekside loop, 1 mile, 115 ft elev [meet @ main lot]
3) Sat 1/21 — Hillside-Meadow loop starting and ending at campground, 3 miles, 250 ft elev [meet @ white barn]
4) Sat 1/28 – Jack London State Historic Park, May’s Clearing loop, 3.7 miles, 430 ft elev [meet @ 2400 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen, CA 95442, upper parking lot]
5) Sat 2/4 – Stern, Pony Gate and Canyon, 3 miles, 500 ft elev [meet @ main lot]
6) Sat 2/11 – Brushy Peaks to Neptune picnic table, 4.3 miles, 640 ft elev [meet @ white barn]
7) Sat 2/18 – Sonoma Valley Regional Park loop, 4.6, miles, 531 ft elev [meet at Valley of the Moon Trailhead on Arnold Dr.]
8) Sat 2/25 – Hillside + Vista Trail loop (counter-clockwise), 4.7 miles, 1000 ft elev [meet @ white barn]
Please note these routes are subject to change. Wear appropriate footwear for muddy or slippery trails and layers, as the group hikes in light rains. Bring at least a quart of water, and if desired, a snack. The group will be limited to 35 participants.
The hiking series costs $80, or free-of-cost for participants with a December 2022 ParkRx from a Sonoma County Medical Provider. Click here for ParkRx info. The number of available ParkRx tickets is limited; please have your ParkRx ready at the time of sign up.
¡Nuestro programa de excursiones para fomentar la aptitud física está de regreso! Los líderes le guiarán en una series de ocho caminatas semanales para excursionistas principiantes. Cada excursión aumentará en dificultad o duración.
A menos a que sea mencionado, todas las excursiones son los sábados, a las nueve de la mañana en el Parque Estatal Sugarloaf Ridge. Las excursiones seguirán la mismas rutas que el programa en inglés:
- 4 de febrero: nos reuniremos en el granero blanco y caminaremos a Urano. 2.2 millas, 80 pies de elevación.
- 11 de febrero: circuito Lower Bald & Creekside, 1 milla, 115 pies elevación. Reunirse en el estacionamiento principal.
- 18 de febrero: circuito Meadow- Hillside, empezando en el granero blanco y terminando en el campamento. 3 millas, 250 pies de elevación.
- 25 de febrero: circuito May’s Clearing en el Parque Estatal Jack London. 3.7 millas, 430 pies de elevación. Reunirse en el estacionamiento superior en 2400 London Ranch Rd, Glen Ellen, CA, 95442.
- 4 de marzo: circuito Stern/ Pony Gate/ Canyon. 3 millas, 500 pies de elevación. Reunirse en el estacionamiento principal.
- 11 de marzo: mesa de picnic en el planeta Neptuno. 4.3 millas, 640 pies de elevación. Reunirse afuera del granero blanco.
- 18 de marzo: Parque Regional Sonoma Valley. 4.4, millas, 531 pies de elevación. Reunirse al inicio del sendero Valley of the Moon en Arnold Dr.
- 25 de marzo: circuito de los senderos Hillside y Vista. 4.7 millas, mil pies de elevación. Reunirse afuera del granero blanco.
Usualmente $80, esta series será ofrecida en un descuento de $30. Residentes del Condado de Sonoma con una Park Rx del 2023 pueden participar gratuitamente. Para aprender más acerca del programa Park Rx, visita https://sugarloafpark.org/activities/parks-rx-program/ El estacionamiento, usualmente $10 por entrada, será gratuito para aquellos que quieran participar en esta series.
Por favor vista capas, calzado adecuado para senderos lodozos y resbaladizos, protección solar, traiga al menos un litro de agua, y si desea, un bocadillo. Las lluvias fuertes cancelan el evento pero continuaremos en llovizna. Si tiene preguntas, o busca más información, por favor comuníquese con Alma o Arsel por correo electrónico (firstname.lastname@example.org) o llame al 707-247-5767.
Vea más oportunidades recreacionales a través del programa Senderos Naturales en ésta página.
The Robert Ferguson Observatory (RFO) is open to the public at least once a month, usually on a Saturday near the time of the New Moon.
Star Parties: Presentations on astronomical topics are given in the classroom throughout the course of the evening. Starting at dusk, the Observatory’s three main telescopes are open for your viewing. Docents set up additional telescopes in front of the building. Friendly and knowledgeable docents are available to answer your questions.
You must have a ticket to attend, as we are limited to 40 attendees per County Health Orders. Proof of vaccination or a negative rapid test taken within the last 48 hours are also required to attend.
- Map and Directions
- When to arrive: We keep the observatory open as long as there are visitors, but you must arrive within 3 hours after start time to ensure that we remain open for you. Summer Star Parties begin with tours and presentations until it’s dark enough for observing.
- Bring warm clothing, even in summer—observing is done outdoors.
- There is a short walk from the parking area to the Observatory and you may wish to bring a small flashlight.
- White Light: No white lights should be used after dark; the observatory is a red-light-only area to protect everyone’s night vision. We will supply red cellophane to cover flashlights. Please note:
◦ Bring a SMALL flashlight (large camp lanterns, light sticks, etc., cannot be adequately covered by red cellophane).
◦ Cell phones or cell-phone flashlights are acceptable but must be covered in red cellophane. (No cell service at the observatory).
◦ Some head lamps are difficult to cover with red cellophane. Once covered, head lamps should be worn around the neck or used pointing down as they are usually very bright at eye level.
◦ Red flashlights are available for $5 at the observatory.
- Alcohol is prohibited on Observatory grounds.
- The Observatory is not open to the public except for scheduled events.
Classroom presentations are always offered on Star Party nights even if the weather is poor. For current conditions call the observatory at (707) 833-6979.
For more info please visit the Robert Ferguson Observatory website.
The Ecology Blog
Nathanson Creek Detention Basin after the storm on January 9, 2023.Good news as a result of these recent storms! Given the current trajectory, we may be coming out of the drought here in Sonoma County. Sonoma Ecology Center Senior Scientist, Steven Lee, is optimistic...
SEC Restoration technicians Alex Kaste and Kurtis McIntyer carrying out a conservation burn — a special method of burning that reduces smoke pollution and produces biochar at the Conservation Burn and Burn Alternatives Workshop. Técnicos de Restauración con SEC Alex...
Sonoma Ecology Center Receives the CALPA Award For Our Inclusive Programming | Sonoma Ecology Center Receive el Reconocimiento de CALPA Por Nuestros Esfuerzos de Inclusividad
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park’s staff with the CALPA Award Prize.Personal de Sonoma Ecology Center en Sugarloaf con el trofeo por el reconocimiento de CALPASonoma Ecology Center was awarded Park Partner of the Year at this year's California League of Park Associations...
One view of the completed rainwater capture system at Flowery Elementary School.Sonoma Ecology Center is working with the community to adapt to historic drought conditions. We are delighted to announce that we have completed a rainwater harvesting system at Flowery...