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News: 04/15/2018

Land Trust acquires 40 acres near Hood Mountain

a creek running through the woods

Sonoma Land Trust (SLT) closed escrow last month on a 40-acre property next to Hood Mountain Regional Park that contains the last stand of redwoods in the upper Santa Rosa Creek watershed, and is part of a major regional wildlife linkage. Accessible only through the eastern boundary of the park, the newly named “Santa Rosa Creek Redwoods” property is completely undeveloped and contains the steep and wild Santa Rosa Creek canyon high up in the Mayacamas Mountains. SLT plans to donate the property to Sonoma County Regional Parks later this year as a much-needed wildland buffer between the park and the growing estate-home development along Los Alamos Road.

There was interest in purchasing the property from neighbors, whose development plans would have endangered the wild nature of the parcel. However, the property owners, whose family has farmed and run cattle on the western slopes of Hood Mountain since the late 1800s, wanted their land protected forever. “We are delighted that the Land Trust will be able to add our family’s land to the park,” said one of the previous owners, who wishes to remain anonymous. In addition to protecting this parcel, SLT and the Sonoma Agriculture and Open Space District are working with these owners and other private landowners along Los Alamos Road to further protect this wilderness area just 20 minutes from downtown Santa Rosa.

The quarter-mile stretch of Santa Rosa Creek on this rugged property also provides ideal conditions for spawning of threatened steelhead trout and for rearing of juvenile steelhead. “Because this parcel is so important to fish and wildlife, we will work with County Parks to put an emphasis on protecting the wildlife corridor and critical fish habitat,” said Tony Nelson, Sonoma Valley stewardship manager for SLT. “This property is wild and undisturbed, and we hope it will remain that way.”

Although a majority of Hood Mountain burned severely in the Sonoma Valley fires last fall, Santa Rosa Creek Redwoods escaped the flames. With no legal road access, it was a relatively inexpensive acquisition at $90,000, with funding provided by Wine Country Weekend, the San Francisco Foundation, and other donors to the Land Trust.

SLT added another 162 acres and a half mile of Santa Rosa Creek to the Hood Mountain/Sugarloaf Ridge park complex in 2016. “We are always looking for opportunities to protect more of Santa Rosa Creek and to connect Hood Mountain Regional Park to Sugarloaf Ridge State Park,” said McCaull. “Putting together an integrated park system can take decades of work. That’s why Sonoma Land Trust is in the business of ‘forever.’”

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