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Challenge grant to benefit Hood Mtn. Regional Park

Challenge grant to benefit  Hood Mtn. Regional Park

 

Kenwood Vineyards has announced a $10,000 challenge grant to help restore fire-scarred Hood Mountain Regional Park and Open Space Preserve. The park, which experienced significant damage from the 2017 Nuns Fire, was burned again by the Glass Fire of fall 2020.

Funds from this effort will benefit the Hood Mountain Fire Recovery Campaign of the Bill and Dave Legacy Fund. This fund honors Bill Myers and Dave Chalk, leaders of popular hikes in Sonoma County for 20 years. “Here at Kenwood, we value the connection with the land and believe in maintaining the wilderness that makes Sonoma County so unique,” said Zeke Neely, winemaker at Kenwood Vineyards. “The fires have been difficult for all of us, and we want to help the community heal. We’re excited to partner with the Sonoma County Parks Foundation and help our parks continue to thrive even if faced with more fires.”

“On a personal note,” Neely added, “I’m a big fan of Hood Mountain Regional Park. Although it’s a serious hike to get up there, the view from Gunsight Rock is one of the most spectacular I’ve seen in Northern California. I’m thrilled we can help this park and can’t wait to visit again.”

“Sonoma County Regional Parks is becoming a leader in ‘climate adaptive’ wildfire recovery, rebuilding in ways that make parks better prepared for future fires,” added Sonoma County District 1 Supervisor Susan Gorin. “We are grateful to Kenwood Vineyards for its leadership in this recovery effort. This challenge grant will invite other members of the community to join us in restoring beloved Hood Mountain.” The Glass Fire burned 80 percent of the 2,000-acre wilderness park, with the majority of this year’s wildfire damage occurring near the Los Alamos entrance. Regional Parks crews have been busy clearing severely damaged trees and working to prevent erosion. While much of the vegetation will recover naturally, the park’s man-made infrastructure will need significant support. Signs, trail markers, picnic tables, wooden steps, and retaining walls—features that make the park safe and enjoyable for human visitors—were all damaged in the Glass Fire. For example, the only item left standing at the Azalea Creek Campground was a charred bear-safe garbage receptacle. Closer to the Pythian entrance, the pygmy forest—a habitat where vegetation is stunted due to limited nutrients in the soil—burned a second time following previous damage by the Nuns Fire in 2017.

“The Parks Foundation looks forward to raising funds to help regional parks restore damaged infrastructure following this most recent wildfire,” said Melissa Kelley, execu- tive director of the nonprofit Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation. “The Bill and Dave Legacy Fund was established to support Hood Mountain and Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, and the Hood Mountain Fire Recovery Campaign is a critical, timely focus for it.”

A number of community leaders have endorsed the challenge grant, including former hike leaders Dave Chalk and Bill Myers, Supervisor Susan Gorin, former Kenwood Press publishers Alec and Ann Peters, naturalist and historian Arthur Dawson, and Hood Mountain enthusiasts Joe Gorin and Cindy Toran.

Three recent wildfires have damaged parks in the Sonoma County Regional Parks system: the Tubbs/Nuns Fire of 2017, the Kincade Fire of 2019, and the Glass Fire of 2020. Acknowledging that climate change is producing longer, hotter summers and conditions that promote future wildfires, Sonoma County Regional Parks is at the forefront of designing climate adaptive parks. “It’s important for us to recognize that wildfires are occurring more frequently in Sonoma County and to make our parks better prepared for these conditions,” explained Steve Ehret, Planning Division Manager for Sonoma County Regional Parks. “At Hood Mountain this means replacing wooden retaining walls and foot bridges with stone or metal; replacing plastic culverts with metal; enhancing trails so that they can accommodate firefighting vehicles; and introducing features that help support firefighting efforts, such as water catchment systems and tool storage at park bathrooms.”

The Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation raises funds, fosters partnerships, and advocates on behalf of more than 50 parks in the Sonoma County Regional Parks system. To donate and help meet the Kenwood challenge grant, please visit www.sonoma-countyparksfoundation.org/hoodmountain.

Kenwood Vineyards is a local Sonoma winery that values its connection with the wild and its long heritage in Kenwood. The winemakers at Kenwood work with the land to produce premium quality wines that reflect the wild and true nature of the Sonoma land. The rugged wilderness not only inspires them, but is also directly apparent in the quality and uniqueness of the wine they produce. Kenwood Vineyards has been defined by the wild of Sonoma since 1970.

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