Ecology Blog | Sonoma Ecology Center

Ecology Blog

  • Taking Stock of Our Fire-Prone Environment
    Gov. Gavin Newsom recently told the New York Times that California is facing “the most destructive fires in our state’s history.” It’s clear that we’ve entered a new era, with fires burning hotter, more destructively, and over a longer season. Locally, that has meant severe loss and lack of security for many, in Sonoma County and beyond — not only from the flames, but from public safety power shutoffs resulting in lost business, spoiled food, school closures and uncertainty about the future. Our own Sonoma Valley, with its wooded hillsides, is more vulnerable than many regions in the state. But the question remains: Why did large-scale destruction by wildfire suddenly become, within the past few years, “the new normal”? And what can we do about it? The answer is, of course, multifaceted, […]
  • Reaching Out in Trying Times
    Once again wildfire is turning all our lives upside down. We wanted to reach out and make contact with you – our friends, partners and neighbors – in this difficult time and, wherever possible, to offer our help and support. Having gone through this in 2017 doesn’t make it easier this time. We are all a little better prepared, and the power outages have probably spared us from more fires. While Sonoma Valley residents try to stay up to date on the flames, winds, smoke, power outages, etc., we also must grapple with school closures, business closures and other sudden changes – and with the emotional trauma of worrying about our fellow Californians, as well as the difficult memories of two years ago. At Sonoma Ecology Center, several of our staff are evacuated, but all are safe, giving us a […]
  • Emergency Information You Can Use
    Given the forecasted high winds, planned power outages, and a fire already underway to our north, there is much to keep track of this weekend. Below is a list of links to real-time information intended to help you stay up to date when it comes to fires, weather, power shutoffs and air quality. Meteorologists predict a major wind event – with gusts as high as 80 miles per hour – for parts of Sonoma County on Saturday night and Sunday. Due to the dryness of our air and vegetation, this can be a dangerous situation and we urge locals to be extremely careful when it comes to potential fire sources (anything from a cigarette butt to a lawnmower can start a conflagration) as well as potential falling objects such as unstable trees or tree limbs. For its part, PG&E is taking the usual […]
  • Join the North Bay Bear Collaborative
    The mighty grizzly bear that adorns our state flag has been missing from California for nearly a century. But lately there is good news from bear country: in some places, including Sugarloaf Ridge State Park and other Sonoma Valley open spaces, black bears are slowly but surely moving into old (and new) ranges. While a boon for nature, the bears’ movement means we, locally, should educate ourselves and make any needed adjustments to their presence. That’s why Sonoma Ecology Center, in collaboration with several partners and led by wildlife tracker and ecologist Meghan Walla-Murphy, has launched the North Bay Bear Collaborative, which will study these animals and provide data-driven advice for ways to make their lives, and ours, more harmonious in Sonoma Valley. This is the logical place […]
  • Russ Feingold Is Preparing for Earth Day (and So Are We)
    Sonoma received some distinguished guests from Wisconsin late last month, including Russ Feingold, a three-term U.S. senator from that state and key champion of an event that is near and dear to our hearts: Earth Day’s 50th Anniversary next April. Begun in 1970 by legendary Wisconsin senator and governor Gaylord Nelson, Earth Day has since grown into a worldwide yearly phenomenon – part celebration, part demonstration and part public recognition of the declining state of Earth’s environment and the role humans play in that. Feingold, a political descendent of Nelson and a reliable vote and voice for progressive causes in the Senate and afterward, currently co-chairs a “Year of the Environment” event series in Wisconsin leading up to Earth Day. The series, sponsored by the Nelson Institute […]
  • Send the Kids to Our Pop-Up Day Camp!
    With the power out, and school out, how about some outdoor fun and adventure at Sonoma Garden Park? We’ve got you covered! Sonoma Ecology Center presents this pop-up day camp for all kids ages 7 to 12. “Power Plants” is Thursday, Oct. 10, 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at Sonoma Garden Park. Based on our 4th grade Growing Discovery program, the day’s activities will include a pollination investigation, gardening with master gardeners, and learning about the creatures of the compost. And of course the famous Straw Bale Fort will be open for extended play! Tickets are $40 each. CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS TO POWER PLANTS DAY CAMP     […]
  • Strike for Your Future!
    “We will never stop fighting for this planet, for our futures, and for the futures of our children and grandchildren.” –Greta Thunberg Climate change is the issue of our time. And people all over the world, including in Sonoma Valley, will get another chance to make their voices heard at the Global Climate Strike event this Friday, Sept. 20, starting (for locals) at 11 a.m. in Sonoma Plaza. Similar events will be held in Santa Rosa and around the county and the globe. Sonoma Ecology Center is among many local organizations enthusiastically supporting Climate Strike both locally and globally, and hope you will be able to show your support in whatever way you can. If not you, then who? If not now, then when? Kate’s Voice Is Powerful Meet Kate Roney, a 17-year-old senior at Sonoma Academy. […]
  • Bald Eagle over Montini
    This Bald Eagle was seen in Sonoma this afternoon, circling with some vultures over the Vallejo Home and the Montini Preserve. Bald Eagles have made an impressive comeback, along with a few other animals protected by the Endangered Species Act. Eagles and many other birds were susceptible to pesticides, particularly DDT; a ban helped bring these birds back from near extinction. They’re starting to be seen in the Bay Area again. Go Eagles! P.S. On Facebook, naturalist Dave Barry of Wild by Nature with Dave Barry added that the eagles’ comeback is “in part due to the conservation and restoration of waterfowl across North America. Waterfowl is a leading food source for Bald Eagles in winter. Bald Eagles are breeding in almost every Bay Area County. Sonoma County has 4-5 breeding pairs, and […]
  • What Can You Do to Help Fight Climate Change?
    Step One: Listen to the Experts We want to thank everyone who came out Monday night for a special screening of “Ice on Fire,” the climate change documentary featuring a segment on biochar by our own Raymond Baltar. The show sold out completely, and the Sebastiani Theatre overflowed with people eager to learn more about the climate change crisis and what we can do to stop it. The film presented a number of “drawdown” solutions – methods of extracting carbon from the atmosphere that include forest management, kelp production, carbon-capturing machines and biochar – and was followed by a lively Q&A with Baltar, “Ice on Fire” director Leila Conners, and Redwood Forest Foundation Chief Forester Linwood Gill. (Shown left-to-right in photo at top. Photos by Melania Mahoney.) As Baltar […]
  • Mapmaker Alex Young Helps Tackle Erosion
    Our GIS Manager Alex Young has been working with the county’s Watershed Task Force in order to help identify post-fire erosion risk – which can remain high for several years after a wildfire – in Sonoma Valley and the county. Alex has been performing “GIS landscape suitability analyses” to identify those sites that are most vulnerable to post-fire erosion. He also created a story map to showcase some of the post-fire erosion control work done around the Valley under the Watershed Task Force funding. The maps will be put to use during a countywide meeting next month.   […]