Be proud, Sonoma County! You, the resident voters of this county, have just helped add an emerald gem in the string of crown jewels that make up the green corona of Sonoma.
Sonoma Land Trust has acquired the Jenner Headlands. These 5,630 acres of spectacular coastal property embrace the Pacific Ocean just north of the Russian River. Included are 1,500 acres of coastal prairie, 3,100 acres of redwood and Douglas fir forest and three spawning streams for steelhead trout.
The area is a haven for rare species, including northern spotted owls and California red-legged frogs. Peregrine falcons, hawks and ospreys ride the wind over the prairie, and mountain lions, cougars, coyotes and badgers call this piece of earthly delight home. There are more than eight miles of pristine streams gurgling through the Russian and Jenner gulches.
I spent a Sunday with Brook Edwards, project manager for Jenner Headlands, touring this dramatic property and identifying the reusable materials to be gleaned from the first round of cleanup. Heritage Salvage wants to help the agency prepare the property for public access.
I talked story with our environmentalist champion, Bill Kortum, on my Monday morning "Green Scene" KRSH 95.9-FM segment. Bill has held positions as county supervisor, chairman of California Coastal Alliance and founder of Sonoma County Conservation Action, to name a few.
"Expressing the voters' green mandate," he said, "the Sonoma County electorate has used the ballot box to protect its coast, take control of land use in our community separators, establish voter control over urban growth boundaries around most of the cities, fund SMART rail, express concern for agriculture and our beautiful scenery by creating and twice financing the Open Space District, and establish the scenic corridor and its rules below Petaluma. Sonoma County is receiving growing statewide recognition for what the voters' green mandate has accomplished."
In the early '70s, I was fortunate enough to spend some rambling afternoons and evenings with Chief Dan George. As the chief shared with me the wisdom of his First Nation Peoples—that's what we call our indigenous people in my native Canada—there was a common thread among his teachings. "We did not inherit this land from our ancestors," he reminded. "We are caretaking it for our children."
Well, Sonoma County, we have voted for that very sentiment, and so far, the county supervisors have been diligent in carrying out our wishes, our green legacy, if you will. We do have a sticky wicket in Petaluma, where the voters chose to designate a scenic corridor along Highway 101 the entrance to Sonoma County. Now there has been a thrash of wrangling and posturing to put Dutra's asphalt plant in that protected scenic corridor. That would take five zoning changes, and even though we voted by a supermajority—more than two-thirds—to protect that corridor, the supervisors are still considering it.
The asphalt plant's EIR says that we already have three times more asphalt production than is needed in Sonoma County. Kortum states that, in essence, the only jobs it would generate would be those taken away from the other asphalt companies already present.
Santa Rosa and Petaluma voters can repeat their voter mandate in 2010 when urban growth boundaries will be on the ballot for renewal. Let us keep Sonoma County on the map as the greenest, largest open space, best-protected habitat and most careful growth area of this nation.
And maybe, just maybe, we can figure out how to make jobs while we caretake these jewels in our midst. As the economic stimulus funds make their way around the nation, while CEOs still wheedle golden parachutes from companies that we taxpayers bought, and with state parks closing because the government has difficulty running their company, maybe we can figure out how to make those gems in our midst pay for themselves. I'm working on it. Any suggestions? It's your open space!
To inquire or be updated regarding guided hikes to the headlands, email firstname.lastname@example.org. To support the ongoing maintenance, please visit the Land Trust website at www.sonomalandtrust.org or call 707.526.6930, ext. 108. To learn more about the Dutra project, go to www.saveschollenbergerpark.com.
Michael 'Bug' Deakin is the proprietor of Heritage Salvage, purveyor of patinaed treasures, promoter of environmental and social justice, and a practitioner of sustainable enthusiasm. www.heritagesalvage.com.
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