Habitat Restoration & Land Management | Sonoma Ecology Center

Habitat Restoration & Land Management

Sonoma Ecology Center’s Restoration Department is dedicated to the restoration, stewardship and enhancement of over 4,000 acres of private and public lands around Sonoma Valley. Those include Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, Sonoma Garden Park, Sonoma Creek, Nathanson Creek, the Montini and Sonoma Overlook Trail Preserves, and Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve. Throughout Sonoma Valley and beyond, our trained professionals provide ecological restoration services including: biological site assessments, native plant seed collection and propagation, invasive plant mapping and treatments, stream bank stabilization and erosion control, and fire fuel management.
Our Restoration Team is working on public and private sites throughout Sonoma Valley and the surrounding regions of Northern California. 
To contact us about projects or to request our services, please email restoration@sonomaecologycenter.org or call 707-996-0712 ext. 116.

 

Our Restoration Department has more than 25 years of successful experience performing natural resource management projects to the satisfaction of public and private clients.

We know how to plan for and accomplish management goals in sensitive habitats with effective, high-quality and affordable methods. Our depth of experience assures quality control on work we carry out, and allows us to incorporate adaptive management techniques that ensure project goals are met in a timely and efficient manner. We utilize smaller crews with technical expertise to maximize budgets and get projects done to a high level of quality.

Our service area focuses on Sonoma Valley and extends to the surrounding regions of Northern California. We have experience working in many of northern California’s natural habitats, including dunes, coastal scrub, grasslands, chaparral, oak woodlands, mixed evergreen forest, redwood forest, wetlands and riparian ecosystems. Our project team has the ecological knowledge, as well as specialized equipment and capacity, to carry out all of the requested services.

Capabilities & Services

  • Full service fish and wildlife habitat restoration for landowners (weed control, erosion control, bank stabilization, native plant installation, irrigation, maintenance)
  • Native plant restoration
  • Invasive non-native weed eradication
  • Native plant production – specializing in local/ watershed-sourced genotypes (seed collection/storage, propagation, growing/transplanting)
  • Fish Barrier removal
  • Stormwater management/low impact design (Erosion control, sediment filtration, etc.)
  • Storm drain retrofitting (energy dissipater, detention basin, geotextile fabric installation).
  • Bioengineering (willow revetments, willow mattresses, vegetated swales, etc)
  • Erosion control (plants, geotextile, biodegradable fabric/ wattles, etc.)
  • Land management (full service – Habitat restoration and management)
  • Flood Management

Project Sites

Sonoma Creek

Sonoma Creek is one of the most important streams in the Bay Area due to the habitat it provides for native fish and wildlife. For two decades, Sonoma Ecology Center’s Restoration Department has serviced and improved Sonoma Creek by removing barriers to native fish migration, improving fish habitat, keeping stream banks and beds from washing away, slowing and filtering stormwater, invasive plant control, and planting native plants. We work constantly with creekside landowners and in partnership with Sonoma Water, the Wildlife Conservation Board, the California Coastal Conservancy and Environmental Science Associates to further the stewardship of Sonoma Creek.

Sugarloaf Ridge State Park

Sonoma Ecology Center formed Team Sugarloaf to keep this California State Park from closing in 2012, and maintains its facilities as well as its roads, culverts and 25 miles of trails. During that time our Restoration Department has performed rare plant monitoring, invasive species mapping, post-fire vegetation surveys, fire fuel reduction, hazardous tree removal, trail design and maintenance, and led volunteer events in this invaluable open space that is home to the headwaters of Sonoma Creek and more than 40 rare plant species. More on Sugarloaf

Montini Open Space Preserve and Sonoma Overlook Trail

In collaboration with the City of Sonoma, Sonoma Ecology Center is responsible for the management and maintenance of both of these cherished open space preserves, located on the city’s northern border. Our trained Restoration professionals conduct trail work, hazardous tree assessment, invasive plant control, and habitat restoration at both preserves, and help mitigate fire danger at Montini through invasive weed management, targeted mowing and by hiring grazing subcontractors. Restoration crew members also guide volunteers in planting, weeding and other volunteer events at the preserves. More on Montini / More on Overlook

Nathanson Creek Preserve

Working with the community, Sonoma Ecology Center designed and built this three-quarter-mile preserve with the support of $2 million in grant funding thanks to partnerships with the Sonoma County Agricultural and Open Space District, Sonoma Water, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the City of Sonoma. This formerly neglected site now provides the community with clean recreational space, walking paths, signage, a Native Plant Demonstration Garden, a demonstration floodplain, and outdoor educational opportunities for three neighboring schools. It is also drawing native wildlife, including steelhead, back into its riparian habitat. Our Restoration staff continues to steward Nathanson Creek through management of invasive species, restoring habitats with native riparian plants, and managing stormwater debris and erosion control. More on Nathanson

Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve

Our biologists and restoration ecologists have developed management plans for this 163-acre preserve, mapping natural resources as well as locations of sensitive and threatened species. As a result, threatened species are being protected while invasive species are managed and removed, helping return the preserve (which is protected under a conservation easement) to its original pristine state. Sonoma Ecology Center’s Restoration Department is a key component of these ongoing conservation practices. More on Van Hoosear

Project Details

Native Plant Propagation

Native plants are key to a healthy ecosystem: they support and sustain native fish and wildlife, stabilize creek banks, and—because they are adapted to native soils—they have more efficient water uptake and can improve water infiltration for groundwater. Over the last five years, SEC has grown and planted over 25,000 native plants. Read more about native plants and our Native Plant Nursery.

Invasive Weed Removal

After human development, invasive species are the second greatest cause of habitat loss in the world. In addition to displacing native plants and animals, invasives can increase fire risk and harbor pests. SEC staff created the model for eradication of Arundo (a highly invasive weed in Western streams) in California.

 

Restoration Staff

Jason Mills

Jason Mills

Restoration Program Manager

Jason is a Restoration and Fire Ecologist, Botanist, Licensed CA Tree/Landscape Contractor, and Certified Ecological Restoration Practitioner with over 15 years of experience in the field. Jason developed his natural resource skills in the Bay Area through seasonal positions with land management agencies as well as private restoration groups, and went on to train and lead crews as a supervisor with the Conservation Corps. He attended graduate school with coursework focused on the plant and fire ecology of California, receiving an M.S. with distinction for his thesis on Rx fire in California grasslands. Jason continues to research the effects of invasive plant control methodology in conjunction with restoration practices, and currently uses these skills to effectively guide the management practices on all of Sonoma Ecology Center’s Restoration Department projects.

Rachel Hendrickson

Rachel Hendrickson

Restoration Project Manager

Rachel studied conservation biology at American University. Her early experience in land stewardship includes the implementation of fuels reduction, trails construction and wildlife monitoring work for county agencies in Marin and the U.S. Forest Service. She later joined Marin County Parks and Open Space District as a Vegetation Specialist, where she worked to fund, design, and oversee multifaceted vegetation management and invasive species projects on 34 open space preserves.

Justin Beach

Justin Beach

Restoration Technician

Born and raised in Santa Rosa, Justin earned a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Anthropology from the University of Washington. He went on to work for California State Parks in the Monterey District, Great Smoky Mountains National Park through Americorps, and the Bureau of Land Management through American Conservation Experience.

Laura Breidenthal

Laura Breidenthal

Restoration Technician

Laura earned a B.S. in Environmental Science & Management from University of California, Davis with an emphasis in Ecology, Biodiversity and Conservation. During her time there, she worked with the Arboretum Teaching Nursery, specializing in California native plant propagation. Most recently, she was an intern for the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. She brings experience with volunteer leadership, native plant care, and education.

Marcos Valentin

Marcos Valentin

Restoration Technician

Marcos studied natural sciences at Santa Rosa Junior College and gained hands-on experience as a county employee assigned to Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, where he performed vegetation management, trail maintenance and construction, and helped to set up and lead volunteer events.

Partners

  • CA Delta Conservancy
  • CA Dept of Fish and Wildlife
  • CA Dept of Water Resources
  • CA Natural Resources Agency
  • Center for Ecosystem Management & Restoration
  • City of Sonoma
  • ESA PWA
  • Hanford ARC
  • Prunuske Chatham, Inc.
  • San Francisco Estuary Project
  • Solano Resource Conservation District
  • Sonoma County Water Agency
  • Sonoma Land Trust
  • Sonoma Resource Conservation District
  • US Environmental Protection Agency