Habitat Restoration & Land Management | Sonoma Ecology Center

Habitat Restoration & Land Management

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

Nathanson Creek Preserve

Working with community experts and students, SEC secured over $2 million in grant funding to design and build this ¾ mile preserve. Nathanson Creek Preserve successfully meets multiple goals: it provides educational opportunities for three nearby schools, serves to assist with stormwater management, and it provides the community with recreational space, while benefiting fish and wildlife through enhanced stream habitat. It is widely used by residents and visitors.

Sonoma Creek Habitat Restoration

Sonoma Creek is one of the most important streams in the Bay Area because of its native fish and wildlife. SEC staff, partners, and creekside landowners have helped to restore Sonoma Creek over the past 20 years by: removing barriers to native fish migration, improving fish habitat, keeping stream banks and beds from washing away, slowing and filtering stormwater, removing weeds, and planting native plants.

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. Read more about invasives and SEC’s work to eliminate them locally.

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.

David Morgan

David Morgan

Restoration Project Manager

David earned his B.S. in Environmental Science with coursework focusing on forest restoration and management with an emphasis on ecological restoration. He developed his skills with the U.S. Forest Service, and also served on IHC Hotshot crews and is a Certified Wildland Firefighter Type II. He is a Certified Arborist, Qualified Timber Cruiser, and Chainsaw Operator, as well the holder of a Qualified Applicator License (QAL).

Garrett Gradillas

Garrett Gradillas

Restoration Specialist/Foreman

Garrett earned his B.S. in Forestry with an emphasis in wildland fire management from Humboldt State University, where he obtained knowledge in forest management, ecology, and forest pathogens. Garrett went on to work for the US Forest Service, where he was a primary wildland firefighter and consulting utility forester. He has in-depth experience in wildland fire, utility consulting, chainsaw operations and training. He earned qualifications including Firefighter 1, Incident Commander Type 5, and obtained a Commercial Drivers License B to operate a Type 3 Fire Engine.

John Taylor

John Taylor

Restoration Project Manager

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

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