Ecology Blog | Sonoma Ecology Center

Ecology Blog

  • Volunteering in the New Year
    As 2020 begins, we invite you to look to the wonderful community around you for ways to connect and give back. Sonoma Ecology Center does meaningful work throughout Sonoma Valley, providing volunteer opportunities galore. Come join us for any of the following and reap the rewards of being outside, making your community better, and feeling fulfilled:   MLK Day of Giving at Nathanson Creek Preserve Monday, Jan. 20, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Nathanson Creek Preserve, East McArthur Street & 2nd Street East, Sonoma In the spirit of Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of a healthy and connected community, join us in a day of community action at Sonoma’s Nathanson Creek Preserve. This is a family- and kid-friendly volunteer work day where people come together to improve a local treasure. Tools and […]
  • Ode to a Sugarloaf Oak
    Some trees are so mighty and long-lived they almost seem immortal. But even they eventually meet their end. So it was with the Grandmother Oak of Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. Located within the McCormick Addition, this gigantic valley oak fell in high winds during the last fire season, ending several centuries as a keystone species—a host and home to countless birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, fungi and so on—on that hillside The tree was also a source of strength and inspiration for countless people over the years. As our own John Roney, Sugarloaf park manager, told the Kenwood Press, ever since McCormick Addition was added to Sugarloaf “the tree was the most popular destination in that section of the park, with many hikers seeking the tree for its beauty and the solitude of its […]
  • A New Leaf: Real Security in a Fire-Prone Place
    It’s been more than a month since winter rains began, turning our brown hills green and bringing yet another harrowing fire season to a close. Now, while we’re enjoying the rain and green grass, we can think more calmly about fire—or rather, about how to better live in our fire-prone environment. But where do we begin? What should we be doing differently today, or half a year from now when the grasses turn brown and temperatures climb? How can we, residents of a fire-prone part of the world, hope to feel real security in this Valley we love? (Or anywhere?) For answers, we need to revisit the big picture—and it is big. Climate change isn’t the only driver of recent super-fires, but it is a major one. And as we’re seeing now in Australia, the problem of raging wildfire (as well as its flip […]
  • Educational Camps for Kids Set for Coming Year
    Great news for local parents: our educators already have lined up several camps for this spring and summer! Enrollments are available now for these popular outdoor adventures: a one-week Spring Break Camp at Sugarloaf, four Wizard School Camps at Sonoma Garden Park, and four Summer Science Camps at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. See below for details on all the camps, plus links to register. One more thing: We never want cost to deter a camper from being able to experience outdoor education! Thanks to the James E. Dutton Foundation and our generous donors, Sonoma Ecology Center is able to offer need-based scholarships to interested families. For information, please contact Tony Passantino at 707-996-0712, ext. 124 or If you would like to sponsor a camper or […]
  • It’s Pruning Time at Sonoma Garden Park
    January is the best time for pruning, and Sonoma Garden Park has many trees, bushes and ornamentals still needing attention. Would you like to join our wonderful staff and volunteers in finishing up this rewarding work? If so, below are three options for joining the team. We’d love to see you at the Garden Par 1: Attend the Pruning Workshop This popular annual workshop gives local gardeners a chance to learn from the experts. The upcoming workshop (Saturday, Jan. 11, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.) is hosted by Wendy Krupnick, garden coordinator at SRJC’s Shone Farm. With Wendy’s guidance, you can become an expert pruner at home—or use your new skills here at the Garden Park! REGISTER 2: Join Us on Pruning Day Sonoma Garden Park’s trees have thrived under volunteer care for 25 years thanks to […]
  • Kenwood Kids Help with Montini Tree Planting
  • Winter Break Adventures Available
    What are your kids doing over winter break? We’re offering an outdoor adventure with two Winter Break Day Camps – on Dec. 23 and Jan. 2 – at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park. Inspired by our summertime Creek Camp, these action-packed days include nature hikes and learning about the creatures of the park. Both days are led by our highly experienced (and highly energetic) educators. Camp days begin at the Sugarloaf Visitors Center and end with s’mores and hot chocolate ’round a campfire. Winter Break Day Camps are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Cost per camper per day is $40, or $20 for members of Sugarloaf or SEC, or for extra siblings from the same family. For ages 7 to 12. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER   […]
  • Council Approves SGP Master Plan Update
    We are grateful to the Sonoma City Council for unanimously approving our Sonoma Garden Park Master Plan Update at its Dec. 2 meeting, capping a long process in updating the blueprint to this beloved park’s future. Thank you also to the Sonoma Planning Commission, city planners, and most especially to our many supporters. Although the process is not 100 percent completed, last week’s vote was a major milestone. Our planned improvements include a new restroom, new children’s play areas, more parking and better gathering spaces. (For an executive summary of the Master Plan Update, click here. For a full copy as submitted to the city, click here and go to calendar item 4.6.) That’s not the only good news. Thanks to an anonymous angel investor, our plan to build a new chicken coop now […]
  • County Declares Climate Change Emergency
    We are glad the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors has formally declared a climate emergency, joining (according to the Board’s statement) “over 1,000 local governments representing 219 million people in 19 countries.” As stated by Board chair David Rabbitt, “Climate change is the most critical issue we face today and we universally are not acting fast enough to avert substantial damage to the economy, environment, and human health in the coming decades.” The next question, of course, is what transformative actions can Sonoma County take that are equal to these words. Sonoma Ecology Center is working with other nonprofits and county staff to make sure this emergency declaration is followed by concrete steps to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and better prepare all members of […]
  • 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, […]