Emergency Watershed Protection Program | Sonoma Ecology Center

Emergency Watershed Protection Program

In the wake of the October 2017 wildfires, Sonoma Ecology Center launched its Emergency Watershed Protection Program in order to shore up burned properties near Sonoma Valley waterways, and contain the toxic ash and debris located there until it could be safely removed. Houses and other structures that burned in the fires left behind ash and debris contaminated with sulfates, nitrates, asbestos and heavy metals. This toxic waste can wash into waterways during heavy rains, so keeping it in place is important to watershed health, wildlife protection and public safety.

For more on the story behind the program, please see our blog post: Community, Volunteers Make Protecting Watershed Possible.

As part of the Emergency Watershed Protection Program, we are continuing to engage volunteers, landowners and donors to strategically protect Sonoma Valley streams and public health. Currently, we are asking for assistance in the following ways:


Take part in protecting our watershed! Volunteers are still needed for the following roles:

Manning and managing material staging areas. At these sites, volunteers fill sandbags and load vehicles with sandbags and wattles for use at high-priority locations.

Placing materials at structures. Groups of volunteers place sandbags and wattles downhill of burned structures at prioritized sites, working under the supervision of a trained team leader.

Contacting landowners. Our volunteers are reaching out to all Sonoma Valley landowners with burned properties near waterways. Our goal is to have them sign our permission forms and allow access so that we can help secure the site.

Follow this process to sign up as an Emergency Watershed Protection Program volunteer:

  1. See if one of our shifts works for you.
  2. Fill out our volunteer sign-up list to join our growing team of volunteers.
  3. You can also fill out our volunteer waiver, and bring along or sign one at your first shift.


If you are a Sonoma Valley landowner, we’d like to talk to you! In particular, we want to reach Sonoma Valley landowners in areas with a high density of structures burned in close proximity to streams to inform them of services we are offering. Those interested in our services can sign our consent form so we can access your property and get to work. See this info sheet for a more complete list of the services we offer.

In general we are looking for people to help us locate toxic sites near streams, damaged culverts, and other places that drain into the Sonoma Valley watershed. We’re also interested in hearing your concerns related to erosion and toxics in Sonoma Valley. Anyone with information is encouraged to email us at info@sonomaecologycenter.org.

List of Online Forms

Following is a complete list of our online forms for both landowners and volunteers.

Fire Recovery Tips

Click the links below for insights and advice on these topics, presented by our staff of expert ecologists:


For more on volunteering with Sonoma Ecology Center, see our Volunteer page.


100% of your donations will go toward supporting immediate and long-term active response, education and prevention efforts in Sonoma Valley—Glen Ellen, Kenwood, and Sonoma.