Ecology Blog

  • Get Ready for Sugarloaf’s 50th Anniversary Celebration
    Guided hikes, down-home barbecue and a Sugarloaf Reunion are among the Memorial Day festivities planned for Sugarloaf Ridge State Park’s 50th Anniversary Celebration, happening all day at the park on Monday, May 27. Sugarloaf became part of the California State Park system in 1964, and fully opened to the public during a Memorial Day Weekend celebration in 1969. Over the next 40 years, State Parks expanded Sugarloaf’s trails, built campgrounds and an amphitheater, added more land and crafted a master plan. The park now encompasses over 4,000 acres in northern Sonoma Valley. It hosts 25 miles of hiking trails offering diverse experiences from panoramic vistas to redwood canyons with a 25-foot waterfall. It hosts the Robert Ferguson Observatory, one of the largest volunteer-run astronomical […]
  • The Real Numbers on Rattlesnake Bites
    This is the time of year when our region’s only common venomous snake, the northern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus), appears in greater numbers in Sonoma Valley. Individuals are emerging from their winter dens to mate and hunt in the fields and meadows – and people are seeing them as they walk along Montini and other local trails. The sightings invariably cause some worry – but don’t worry! As the data show, rattlesnake bites are vanishingly rare, and only the egregiously incautious tend to get bit. According to the CDC there are between 7,000 and 8,000 bites per year in the U.S. – this counts all venomous snakes, all across the country – resulting in approximately five deaths per year. That is already a miniscule percentage, but looking closer at the data shows who’s really at […]
  • Best Way to Stop French Broom? Hold a ‘Broom Pull’
    With the arrival of spring, the invasive shrub called French broom, with its long woody stalks and pretty yellow flowers, is popping up all over Sonoma Valley. But French broom is unwanted here because it’s environmentally destructive, a fire hazard, and very hard to control. And according to Sonoma Ecology Center Restoration Program Manager Jason Mills, French broom (Genista monspessulana) has been especially virulent this spring in Sonoma Valley’s post-fire areas. To slow its spread, Mills and the Restoration Department are inviting the public to take part in two outdoor “broom pull” events this month, on April 13 and April 22. These are family-friendly events where volunteers join us in a beautiful outdoor location – in Sonoma Developmental Center on sites where fire swept through in […]
  • Join Us for an Earth Day Celebration at Larson Park
    Sonoma Ecology Center is hosting a neighborhood festival on April 20 to celebrate our favorite day of the year: Earth Day. The goal of our Earth Day Celebration at Larson Park is to build community and reconnect people to the land around us. Activities include an organized clean-up of the banks of Sonoma Creek, a recycling workshop, traditional dancing by Ballet Folklórico dancers, booths, children’s activities, and delicious offerings from the Picazo Cafe food truck – all under the banner Tu Planeta, Tu Futuro. This all-ages event, held on Saturday, April 20 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., is organized by Sonoma Ecology Center in partnership with La Luz Center, Boys and Girls Club of Sonoma, Recology, Picazo Cafe, Sonoma Valley Health Center, Sonoma County Regional Parks, Sustainable Sonoma, the […]
  • Harvest Market Returns for Growing Season
    Sonoma Garden Park turns 25 this year, and as the park’s operator, we’re celebrating with special occasions and with our usual great events – for example, the weekly Harvest Market offering fresh locally grown vegetables, eggs, flowers and more. The market reopened last weekend and is now open every Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to noon. Stop in for squash, onions, chard, figs, apples, walnuts, a variety of herbs and flowers, honey, olive oil, free-range eggs and more. Then stay for the unique workshops – such as Gardening for Hummingbirds this Saturday – and the special occasions we’re planning in celebration of the park’s silver anniversary. Sonoma Garden Park is open dawn to dusk every day at 19996 7th St. East, Sonoma. […]
  • New Book Explores Iconic Sonoma Mountain
    We’re excited about the release of Arthur Dawson’s “Where the World Begins: Sonoma Mountain Stories and Images,” and proud to have played a role in the making of this beautiful book in collaboration with Dawson, Sonoma Mountain Preservation and other area nonprofits and agencies. Dawson is a historian, a longtime Glen Ellen resident and a longtime friend of ours, so we were happy to contribute our own knowledge and experience of Sonoma Mountain, and to help sponsor and promote the book. The finished product features dozens of eye-popping photos, maps (made by Sonoma Ecology Center mapmaker Alex Young), and personal stories and insights on Sonoma Valley’s most iconic mountain. The book was published last month by Sonoma Mountain Preservation as part of that group’s 25th anniversary […]
  • We Are Looking for a Few Good Volunteers
    Martin Luther King, Jr. said that “Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve.” We couldn’t agree more, and find that giving time to our community is the most rewarding thing a person can do. For Sonoma Valley residents looking to make their community a better place, we have some ideas! The following activities could use your help this spring: Sonoma Garden Park Harvest Market, Saturdays 9am-12pm Sonoma Native Nursery, Fridays 9am-1pm Open Orientation, Fridays 9am-1pm Restoration Broom pulling, April 13 (contact us for details) Office General, data entry Help with mailings Tabling/Events Be a photographer (any event) Earth Day Celebration at Larson Park, April 20 Earth Day Celebration at First Congregational Church, April 27 Day Under the Oaks at Santa Rosa Junior College, […]
  • New Restoration Crew Tackles Broom
    Restoration Program Manager Jason Mills has some announcements this month, not only about the work his team is doing but about the team itself, which is growing. “I wanted to officially welcome Ariana Lease and Garrett Gradillas to the Restoration team,” he said, adding that “Ariana and Garrett both blew me away with their positive attitudes and approach to this specialized work.” Ariana (shown above in foreground) grew up in Santa Rosa and earned a B.S. in Environmental Studies from San Francisco State. She specializes in natural resource management and conservation, and recently completed a year-long internship with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Garett obtained a Forestry degree from Humboldt State with an emphasis in wildland fire management. He went on to work for the […]
  • SEC Seeks Input on Steelhead Habitat Project
    The following letter is directed towards landowners with property located along upper Sonoma Creek from Madrone Road to Adobe Canyon. Going with the Flow: Seeking Community Input on Restoration for Steelhead Habitat in Upper Sonoma Creek Over the past century, our community has seen a huge loss of steelhead and salmon in Sonoma Creek. These anadromous fish species are an important indicator of watershed health, which is why it is a concern when they disappear from a waterway. Sonoma Ecology Center is seeking landowners that live near or manage land along Sonoma Creek that are interested in working with us to improve stewardship of creek habitat and water resources. We are pleased to announce that with funding from California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) we are starting to work […]
  • A Reflection on Sugarloaf’s History as State Park Turns 50
    The true history of the land of steep hillsides, lush meadows and fertile valleys known today as Sugarloaf Ridge State Park begins at least 7,000 years ago, when Wappo Indians occupied the region and used Sugarloaf as their summertime home and hunting ground. The Wappo lived a simple existence for all those years, thriving in an overflowing land that could be called a paradise. But as told in “A Sugarloaf Reader” by Larry Maniscalco, a former history docent at Sugarloaf, that long chapter came to a tragic end in the 1830s, when disease wiped out much of the native population. From there the story of Sugarloaf accelerates, going from homesteads to ranches to hippie encampments, and culminating on Memorial Day Weekend, 1969, with the grand opening of Sugarloaf as a California State Park – […]