2023 Living with Fire: Sonoma County Forest Conservation Conference

June 23-24, 2023

at SRJC Shone Farm in Forestville, 7450 Steve Olson Ln, Forestville, CA 95436

Parking Map

THANK YOU to all who attended, volunteered, tabled or presented!

Thank you for attending the 2023 Living with Fire: Sonoma County Forest Conservation Conference on June 23-24. We were thrilled to serve our forestland owners, managers, residents and interested members of the public with a two-day gathering focused on managing forestland in these new and challenging times. This event was designed to help land managers feel confident about what they can do and feel supported where they need help.

See Educational Resources, Photos, Testimonials and Stats about the Conference!

About the event

Register NowWelcome! The Sonoma County Forest Conservation Working Group, in partnership with the County of Sonoma and the Santa Rosa Junior College, is excited to invite you, our community’s forestland residents, landowners, land managers and stakeholders, to a two-day conference centered on managing forestland in these new and challenging times.

While “conference” seems to get at the spirit of the event as a place to convene and learn together, this event could also be called a “workshop” or a “training.” That’s because our goal is to provide those who live and work in Sonoma County’s forests with the practical knowledge they need.

This event comes at an important time. Our forests are facing serious challenges: uncertainties of climate change, conversion, declining activity, diminishing infrastructure, disease, fragmentation, increasing regulation, invasive species, and most recently, increasing risk of wildfire. At the same time, our forests offer many valuable resources worth protecting: carbon sequestration, clean air, clean water, recreational use, timber production, and wildlife habitat, among many others. 

While managing your forestland can seem daunting, the first steps are simple. This event is designed to help you feel confident about what you can do and feel supported where you need help. 

This conference is made possible by a powerful collaboration of dozens of organizations and individuals. It includes Sonoma County Ag + Open Space, the Sonoma County Resource Conservation Districts, University of California Cooperative Extension, WRA Environmental Consultants, Circuit Rider, private foresters, CALFIRE, and many others. These organizations are members of the Sonoma County Forest Conservation Working Group. They have come together to support you.

  • You will participate in interactive workshops, covering a wide range of topics that matter to landowners. For example: What is forest health and how do I improve my forestland? What planning and funding resources are available to landowners? How do I do projects like forest thinning, building burn piles, removing invasive species, and making my forest more fire safe? How do I collaborate with my neighbors and join in bigger, regional conservation efforts?
  • You will hear from a range of experts, such as other landowners, foresters, resource managers, fire ecologists, community organizations and leaders, public agencies, and conservation organizations.
  • You will walk away from the event with an actionable plan to make changes on your land.

Program Overview 

Day 1: Workshops at Shone Farm in Forestville

Friday, June 23rd, 8am-5:45pm 

Location: SRJC Shone Farm in Forestville, 7450 Steve Olson Lane, Forestville, CA 95436

Schedule (subject to small changes)

8:00-8:30am   |   Registration & light breakfast

8:30-9:30am   |   Opening Plenary

9:30-12:30pm |   Workshop Sessions 1 & 2

12:30-2:00pm |   Catered lunch

2:00-5:00pm   |   Workshop Sessions 3 & 4

5:00-5:45pm   |   Closing Plenary

5:45-6:45pm   |   Optional Social Reception!

Workshop Descriptions:

Attendees will participate in each of the following workshops. Attendees will be assigned a track (Green, Orange, Yellow or Blue) to cycle through workshops in groups. Two workshops are held in classrooms and two are held outdoors in the Shone Farm forest. Some walking is required. Let us know in registration if you need accommodations.

Learn about the basics of forest management in Sonoma County, from fire history in oak woodlands, to fuel reduction in overstocked conifer forests. By understanding the historical and current conditions of your forest, you can better manage for the future.

Speakers:

  • Briana Boaz, Professor of Natural Resources, Santa Rosa Junior College
  • Marshall Turbeville, Battalion Chief, Northern Sonoma County Fire District

Lightning round of speakers will present the basics on setting your goals, working with a forester to plan and permit your forest management activities, and applying for financial assistance.

Speakers:

  • Jason Wells, Registered Professional Forester, Sonoma Resource Conservation District
  • Robert Aguero, Registered Professional Forester, Permit Sonoma

Trained professionals will demonstrate the use of various tools and equipment commonly used in forestry. You’ll see hand tools such as loppers, pruners, pole saws, chainsaws, weed pullers, pulaskis and McLeods, as well as larger equipment like wood chippers and biochar kilns. Techniques for building burn piles may also be demonstrated.

Speakers:

  • Annie Madden, Wildfire Resilience Program Specialist, Santa Rosa Junior College
  • Anthony Blondin, Shone Farm Operations Coordinator, Santa Rosa Junior College
  • Ryan Klausch, Environmental Scientist, Wildfire and Forest Resilience Program, Sonoma-Mendocino Coast District California State Parks

How do land managers identify problems on the land, like invasive plants, disease or fuel buildup? How do they determine the best solution? How do they evaluate success? This workshop will teach you to watch and learn from the land, take small but strong steps to steward the land, and be proactive about addressing common issues.

Speakers:

  • Tori Norville, Fire Advisor, University of California Cooperative Extension
  • Jason Mills, Senior Restoration Contractor, WRA Environmental Consultants

Partner organizations will be tabling in a “resource fair.” Take time for one-on-one conversations with dozens of organizations ready to help answer your questions and share useful resources.

Day 2: Field Tours Across Sonoma County

Saturday, June 24th, 8am-5pm

Location: Meet in the morning at the SRJC Shone Farm in Forestville, 7450 Steve Olson Ln, Forestville, CA 95436. We will depart to field tours from there. Please do not be late to load in the vans at 9:00am!

Schedule (subject to small changes)

8:00-8:30am     |   Registration & light breakfast

8:30-9:00am     |   Opening Plenary

9:00-9:30am     |   Load into vans    

9:30-10:00am   |   Drive to field site

10:00-12:30pm |   Field Tour

12:30-1:00pm   |   Bagged lunch on site

1:00-3:30pm     |   Field Tour

3:30-4:00pm     |   Return to Shone Farm

4:00-4:30pm     |   Conference concludes

Field Tour Descriptions:

Attendees can choose one field tour to attend. Groups will be capped at 35 people per trip. Attendees have the choice of van transportation, carpool or independent travel to and from the tour. Attendees are provided a bagged lunch and bottled water. Walking and hiking is required. Let us know in registration if you need accommodations.

This tour will take attendees to the coastal hills above the town of Cazadero to Fort Ross Road and Gualala Ranch (GRA), a private HOA working collaboratively with the Coast Ridge Forest Council (CRFC). CRFC is a non-profit community forest organization, consisting of private landowners and resident land managers. They are working to improve forest health, increase resiliency in the face of climate change, and reduce future impacts of wildfire in our rural communities. We will tour a roadside shaded fuel break project, funded by the County’s Vegetation Management Grant Program, along Fort Ross Road that aids community emergency evacuation. We will then head to the Gualala Ranch Fern Field where attendees will meet local resident grazer, Demetra Markis, and her flock and hear her discuss her community rotational grazing program, as well as Angie Cooper, community organizer of The Local Crew (TLC), a grassroots hand crew volunteer organization that uses good fire in various ways as a tool in fuels reduction. Angie will talk about the work she has done by mobilizing the communities of Gualala and Seaview Ranches. Attendees will then be taken to Huckleberry Forest Homestead to meet David Bushner. David will discuss the benefits and logistics of using rotational grazing for fuels management in a forest setting, Other speakers include the head of the GRA Forestry Committee, Starhawk, Forester, Matt Greene, and Judy Rosales and Melissa Bushner, Executive Director and Outreach Coordinator of CRFC.

This tour will take attendees to two properties in West County. First, just west of the town of Graton is Green Valley Farm + Mill, a 172-acre land project committed to ecological stewardship, education and regenerative farm enterprises. Part of the land’s stewardship activities includes the management of 85-acres of mixed evergreen forest as well as the revival of the property’s historic mill. Co-owners Temra Costa and Jeremy Fisher will discuss the property’s forest management plan, tour attendees along a small wildfire scar (which is now used as a fire break for controlled broadcast burns in partnership with Fire Forward), and introduce their mill project being implemented by their business Forestree Collective and affiliated nonprofit Regenerative Forest Solutions. Forestree won the Sonoma County Bio Biz competition in 2021, and is turning wood from forest restoration and fuel load reduction projects into furniture and other wood products with the support of a US Forest Service grant. Forest work on-site has been supported by Gold Ridge RCD, Fire Forward, RPF Estelle Clifton, and CAL FIRE’s California Forest Improvement Program.


After lunch, attendees will travel to Bodega to the family ranch of Algeo “Che” Casul, the seventh generation rancher, born and raised on the same ranch his great, great, great, great-grandfather settled in 1851. Spending much of his free time in his youth with his grandmother, Che was taught the deep importance of caring for the land generationally as she would highlight ranch projects that previous generations had carried out that were beneficial and was not shy of pointing out and naming those bygone family members whose actions had a negative effect on their current landscape and livelihood. Through this long-view lens, Che believes that it is imperative to nurture and grow the natural resources of Sonoma County for the generations that come after. Attendees will hear about current practices including forest thinning, rotational grazing in the forest understory, pile and broadcast burning, fuel break creation and maintenance along a ridge, forest mushroom foraging, grassland restoration and wildlife habitat enhancement. Che has received financial and technical support from Gold Ridge RCD and NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

This tour will take attendees east to the Mayacamas Mountains to Pepperwood Preserve, a 3,117-acre preserve dedicated to conservation science managed by the Pepperwood Foundation. Preserve Manager, Michael Gillogily, and Assistant preserve manager, Devyn Friedfel, will tour attendees through four different fuels management units in the preserve’s Douglas-fir and oak woodland forests: 1. No fuels management, 2. Thinning with lop and scatter, 3. Thinning and pile burn, 4. Thinning and broadcast burn. Lessons learned from each approach will be explored. The site has also experienced two of the County’s most recent wildfires: the 2017 Tubbs Fire and the 2019 Kincaid Fire. Fire recovery, salvage logging and oak restoration (oak resprout protection and monitoring) will be topics of discussion. Additionally, attendees can visit the nursery where grass plugs and oak seedlings are propagated for restoration plantings. Finally, Devyn will explain Pepperwood’s monitoring techniques to evaluate success and provide suggestions for simple monitoring approaches all land managers can use. Projects toured are funded by CAL FIRE, NRCS’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), the County’s Vegetation Management Grant Program, and other grant programs and funding sources. Read more about Pepperwood’s fire mitigation and forest health efforts here.

This tour will take attendees east of Santa Rosa to Saddle Mountain Open Space Preserve, a 960-acre preserve managed by Sonoma County Ag + Open Space that burned in the 2020 Glass Fire. Stewardship Specialist and fire ecologist Monica Delmartini will discuss factors that affect fire behavior and fire effects, post-fire and pre-fire land stewardship and fuels management, multi-benefit project design, and prescribed fire planning and benefits in fire-adapted landscapes.  The preserve’s forest health and fire resiliency projects include a 126-acre fuels management project that includes two shaded fuel breaks, understory thinning in mixed hardwood forest, and preparations for future prescribed and cultural burns, and the tour will explore portions of this project area. This project was developed in consultation with registered professional foresters, a prescribed fire specialist, a Tribal representative, local botanists, and Ag + Open Space staff with expertise in fire ecology and forest restoration, as well as dialogue with regional conservation partners and CAL FIRE.  The project design includes robust protections for sensitive natural and cultural resources, soil health, natural post-fire vegetation regeneration, water quality, wildlife, and forest understory species, and is intended to enhance biodiversity, sensitive plant habitat, carbon sequestration, and forest resilience on the Preserve while reducing hazardous fuel loads. Read more about Saddle Mountain O.S. Preserve here.

Registration

Registration is now closed. We are sold out! Join the waitlist, and check out our other upcoming events here: www.sonomaforests.org/events

Sponsors

This conference is sponsored by the County of Sonoma. The social reception is sponsored by the Sonoma Land Trust. If you would like to sponsor this event, please reach out to the event organizer at hello@topocollective.com. Other ways to support the conference include: Donations of $500 and less can be made through registration. Volunteering is another way to help the conference. All forms of support are appreciated!

Interested in tabling?

Thank you to our tablers! We have reached our tabling capacity. If you have questions about tabling at the event, please reach out to the event organizer at hello@topocollective.com.

Contact Us

Have a question? Contact the event organizer at hello@topocollective.com.

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