Brown Bag Lecture Series
Forest Stewardship Workshops
Forest Conservation Conference
We host Brown Bag lectures periodically, covering a range of forest issues. This lecture series helps promote communication between the county’s urban center and its forested periphery. Past topics have included the carbon cycle, carbon sequestration, and monetizing carbon credits; oak ecology and history in Sonoma County; Sonoma County fire history and ecology; climate change and its potential impacts to the county; biomass utilization; Forest Practice regulations; use of fire in Sonoma County; new technology for forest management; sound ecology; post-wildfire efforts and assessments.
The audience for the seminars includes forest landowners, students, resource professionals, and agency representatives from local and regional government. Lectures are held during the noon hour at the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District office conference room in Santa Rosa, creating an opportunity for people to ‘get to the woods’ while eating their lunch in town.
Videos of previous Brown Bag lectures can be viewed through this link –
Forest Stewardship workshops are all-day classes. Our standard agenda includes a morning session focusing on forest ecology, roads and fisheries, fire safety, Sudden Oak Death, and conservation easements as a tool for family succession. “Advanced” versions can address Forest Practice regulations, wood utilization, or other topics of interest. The afternoon typically includes a field tour for participants to visit sites that highlight the practices discussed during the morning session. Because the Work Group represents a broad base of knowledge and resources, landowners get the chance to connect with the people or program they most need: cooperative extension, land trusts, foresters, federal and state grant coordinators, or even free chipping of dead and thinned brush and trees.
Forest Stewardship workshops have been presented in the Mark West Creek, Dutch Bill Creek, Mill Creek, and Austin Creek watersheds; as well as in the communities of Annapolis and Timber Cove.
House meetings are custom trainings presented on request. The agenda is developed based on input from the local hosts. House meetings are hosted by local residents and occur in private homes or other community gathering places. Past meetings have been presented in the Noel Heights, Foothill Ranch, Upper Salmon Creek, and Trinity/Cavedale Road neighborhoods, as well as at Shone Farm, Little Black Mountain, and in the Cazadero/Creighton Ridge area.
Business meetings are held monthly, generally on the third Thursday of each month, from 10:00 AM– 12:00 PM at the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District’s conference room at 747 Mendocino Avenue in Santa Rosa. Meeting dates for 2018 follow. Please note that dates in November and December are adjusted for the holidays, and that Brown Bag sessions are preceded by shortened meetings held from 11:00 – 12:00 (–see dates with * below.)
Meeting Dates for 2018: (third Thursday of the month – 10:00 AM – noon)
December 20** – Year-End Celebration
* – Bold = Brown Bag Session. On those dates the meetings will be held from 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM with Brown Bag Sessions following from 12:00 – 1:00 PM.
** – Adjusted for Holidays
The Sonoma County Forest Conservation Working Group and partners (notably the Sonoma Land Trust) hosted a three-day North Forest Conservation Conference in June, 2012 and another North Coast Forest Conservation Conference in June, 2017 North Coast Forest Conservation Conference in June, 2017. Working Group Conferences bring together landowners, foresters, resource management professionals, agency representatives, and students interested in protecting forests and forest resources. Conference field trips have brought attendees to the Jenner Headlands, the Pepperwood Preserve, Gualala River, Mill Creek and Bear Flat Forest, and the Berry family’s property and mill. Please follow the links below to learn more!
Please find a 2017 North Coast Forest Conservation Conference synopsis below:
NORTH COAST FOREST CONSERVATION CONFERENCE: GROWING RESILIENCE IN OUR FORESTS AND WOODLANDS
Susan L. Anderson, Bodega Land Trust Board
In June of this year, the Sonoma County Forest Conservation Working Group held the North Coast Forest Conservation Conference at Santa Rosa Junior College. It was an inspirational gathering of people in diverse sectors of forest conservation including forest landowners, forestry professionals, scientists, agency managers, Land Trust volunteers, tribal representatives, and elected officials. Generally speaking, the conference addressed two overarching themes.
The first, was an examination of the status and future of North Coast forests. Presentations were compelling from scientific, economic, policy, and moral perspectives. The conference organizers highlighted the fact that private landowners are emerging as key contributors to the preservation of forests. Approximately 85% of Sonoma County forests are on private land. Significantly, however, landowners face many poorly understood challenges including: climate change with its associated alterations in our water and fire regimes, new and destructive invasive species, habitat degradation from illegal marijuana cultivation, and constantly evolving regulations and approaches for road and streambed restorations.
The organizers painted a picture of a dramatic difference between forest conservation in other parts of the western U.S. and Sonoma County. In much of the west, the federal government, logging companies, and conservation organizations are the dominant players in the forest management world. Yet, for over a decade, the responsibility for health of our forests in Sonoma County is shared with private landowners, Land Trusts, and public/private/nonprofit partnerships (exemplified by Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District projects). Now, there are also private firms involved in conservation impact investing. The evolving market for forest carbon credits is one of the key trends shaping these emerging relationships.
An impressive aspect of this new perspective on our forests was a rather fearless effort to reinforce the moral viewpoint for preserving our land. County Supervisors James Gore and Lynda Hopkins implored us to remember our children’s future and to work with local government toward practical actions — bringing our communities and families together. The Kashia Band of the Pomo and the Hoopa tribes were represented by Reno Franklin and Darin Jarnaghan Sr, respectively. They both reminded us that the forests are not just a resource to be either commoditized or conserved but that they give us places to nourish ourselves, to gather, to live, and to revere life. They stated clearly that Native Americans have managed this land for 10,000 years. Active management is not a new concept! Dr. Kat Anderson, the banquet speaker and author of the renowned book “Tending the Wild”, spoke of a need to “re-indigenize” the forests—to essentially embrace these Native American practices and to cultivate a spiritual dialogue with the earth. Finally, Dr. Robert Ewing, Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley and former Weyerhaeuser executive lectured on the need for us to provide inspiring leadership that will activate natural human instincts to revere nature and work towards a sustainable future for our children. It was fascinating to hear such a diverse group articulate a similar mandate.
The second overarching theme was to showcase both: practical resources available to landowners and examples of collaborative land management. Forest conservation projects often involve collaboration with neighbors, government agencies, nonprofits and, of course, foresters and private logging companies. It was recommended that landowners develop clear goals for their land, in general, and for specific projects. The size and complexity of the land area as well as the exact management challenges dictate the level of detail and professional input required. Larger and more difficult projects benefit from the development of a formal forest plan.
Forest practices that were widely recommended include: thinning of Douglas Fir encroaching on oak woodlands, removal of invasive plants, consultation with experts for disease-related problems, and promotion of road and stream improvements. Resources to aid landowners in accomplishing these goals are available. For example:
1) University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) is an excellent resource for disease management issues.
2) The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides free advice and financial assistance on road and stream projects, degraded plant conditions, pest control, and other topics.
3) CalFire sponsors the California Forest Improvement Program (CFIP), a reimbursement program, applicable to properties with at least 20 acres of forest. Practices eligible for reimbursement include: plan development, forester supervision, site preparation, forest thinning, planting, and more.
4) Resource Conservation Districts (RCD) are broadly helpful in clarifying land management goals, erosion issues, and pasture and forest management schemes. Specifically note there is an excellent Handbook for Forest Ranch and Rural Road improvement on the Mendocino RCD website.
If you have worked with some of these groups in the past, note that eligibility and cost sharing requirements have been eased and also consider that collaborative projects among adjacent landowners usually have a higher funding priority.
In closing, over 33,500 acres of redwood, 58,000 acres of oak woodland, and 78 miles of trout stream (ref. Bill Keene, General Manager, Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District) have been protected in Sonoma County. Our county can become a national example in preserving working lands, wild lands, and communities, while developing new economies. The Bodega Land Trust with 12 conservation easements and a clear vision to further promote these broad goals in Western Sonoma County, is an important voice in promoting a collaborative vision of sustainability.
Protecting forests across landscapes and through generations…