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Every spring, your local ecologists at Sonoma Ecology Center take on a persistent problem that threatens native species throughout Sonoma Valley and California: invasive weeds

From French broom to yellow star-thistle, these non-natives displace California’s native plants and threaten the animals and insects that rely on them. That’s why we’re increasing our efforts to uproot them – and we could use your help.

Below are three ways local residents of all ages can help us put a lid on this seasonal threat to Sonoma Valley’s beautiful native landscape. They include both education and volunteer opportunities and – in the case of Van Hoosear – offer a chance to hike through a protected Sonoma Valley property.


Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve

This is a rare opportunity to experience the beauty of the Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve and to help maintain this pristine environment. Time is of the essence, as we need to remove the weeds before they seed and spread. We hope you will join us whenever you can over the next two weeks.

Van Hoosear Wildflower Preserve is a 162-acre conserved piece of land with wildflower meadows and grasslands, oak woodlands, and riverine habitats – a rich and rare mix of native plants and animals. Since 2004, Sonoma Ecology Center has worked with the owners to protect against future development and to preserve its beauty.

Recently, several non-native invasive plant species have popped up in portions of Van Hoosear. We’re seeking your help in removing these problem plants before they can create dense groupings that push out native wildflowers and grasses. An introduction to the invasive plants and removal process will be provided by John Taylor, Sonoma Ecology Center’s habitat restoration specialist. Those interested in joining us at the times listed below may contact Garland Lamb for details at

Dates and Times:
Wednesday, June 20, 8 a.m. to noon
Thursday, June 21, 8 a.m. to noon
Saturday, June 16, 10:30 a.m. (or early afternoon)
Monday, June 18, 10:30 a.m. (or early afternoon)

What to bring:
This effort will require walking through both grasslands and up some moderate slopes. Please wear long-sleeve shirt and pants, leather hiking boots (to avoid grass seed barbs attaching to your shoes), and bring gloves (provided as needed), a water bottle and a snack. Sunscreen, hat and sunglasses also are recommended. Tools, collection buckets and garbage bags will be supplied by SEC.


Montini Preserve Biodiversity Workshop

Please join us for a lively discussion at First Congregational Church to learn about management strategies and how you can help reduce fuel load and increase biodiversity at our beloved Montini Preserve.

Representatives of Sonoma Ecology Center, which manages Montini, will be discussing the recent explosion of invasive weeds in our parks that are building up the fuel load as we head into the dry season. Our expert ecologists will discuss the buildup of weed fuel load at Montini Preserve and the Overlook Trail, parks immediately surrounding our beloved Sonoma Plaza. We hope you will join us to learn more!

Hosted by the First Congregational Church Earth Care Committee, this free event is Thursday, June 21, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in First Congregational Church’s Burlingame Hall, 252 W. Spain St., Sonoma. Click here to register.


Nathanson Preserve

Finally, there is Sonoma’s wonderful Nathanson Creek Preserve. Once a month, on the fourth Saturday of every month, Jeanna Menze and the Nathanson Stewards meet at the corner of East MacArthur and Second Street East, put on their gloves, and have a fun and productive time tending the native garden located there. Right now, it being June, that means pulling up some weeds!

This month’s Nathanson Stewards workday is Saturday, June 23, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with volunteer stewards meeting at Nathanson Creek Park on the southwest corner of East MacArthur and Second Street East. Snacks are provided, but please bring bottled water, work gloves and a love for both community engagement and native plants. For questions contact, or for more information see our event listing.