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News: 07/15/2020

Glen Ellen Forumís busy July agenda

Virtual platform no barrier to informative meetings

It's tough running a community organization like the Glen Ellen Forum in the middle of a pandemic, but the Glen Ellen group managed to present a variety of speakers to over 50 people attending with audio and/or visual connections on July 1.

Presentations followed committee reports.

Laurie Pile noted the new mural painted on the plywood coverings on Jack London Saloon, as well as the presence of Dark Skies posters describing the value of avoiding light pollution in the countryside. A new bulletin board is being obtained for the Glen Ellen Market, and Pile's Projects Committee is getting ready to apply another coat of sealants on local benches.

Tracy Salcedo speaking for the SDC/Eldridge Committee said that a special meeting would be held (TBD) concerning the future of historical sites at the Sonoma Developmental Center. She cautioned that people swimming in Lake Suttonfield could cause the area to be closed.

"We have to do our best so it doesn't get shut down," Salcedo said.

Salcedo is producing a trail guide for the SDC property in collaboration with the Sonoma Ecology Center and the Sonoma Land Trust. Many trails link to adjacent Jack London State and Sonoma County Regional parks.

Presentations followed, starting off with a look at upcoming activities in groundwater study and potential regulations. The presentation by Vicki Hill, a member of the Sonoma Valley Groundwater Sustainability Agency Advisory Committee is covered separately (See this story.).

Oz Robledo spoke about "Pride and Prejudice in the Valley of the Moon," having grown up in Sonoma County as a person of color. Robledo is vice chair of the GEF Steering Committee. 

"I don't have an accent, so it's jarring to me when I get prejudice that comes out of left field," he said. He was born and raised in Sonoma.

"People see others through their own prejudices, and most don't even think it's an issue here.

"It does happen," Robledo said. "Be aware. It sucks, it's like a wound that can fester." While he said talking about this is difficult, "It's best to open them up and air them out. Everyone wants their kids to walk down the street and go to school safely. We all want the same thing."

Sonoma Valley Fire District Captain Gary Johnson provided a brief slide show on getting ready for the fire season.

Ellie Insley presented a nine-minute slideshow created by the Resilient Landscapes Coalition about landscape hardening for fire season.

Wrapping up the evening, Steve Lee, Senior Ecologist for the Sonoma Ecology Center, shared his recent experiences surveying the Sonoma Creek's reach across the Sonoma Developmental Center. Divers traversed the creek from end to end through the property, making underwater videos of the fish and other riparian habitats.

The work was done through a contract with the State General Services Administration that is the interim SDC landowner while it transitions to parkland and private/public ownership.

Lee noted the difficulty in obtaining funding for pure research, but it is necessary as the region undergoes change.

"We know how many changes are ahead for this part of the valley," he said. "We will develop baseline data." He identified the SDC reach as a transitional zone. 

Through Kenwood, the creek water is cool, then it drops down to the aquifer under Warm Springs Canyon, past Morton's to Glen Ellen. Up to this point, there are "a lot of steelhead." But the stream flow slows as the channel widens through Glen Ellen, and near the SDC "we see changes in species, more bluegill, bass, and Sacramento sucker, that need warmer water.

This informal study revealed:

  • 379 endangered California freshwater shrimp
  • 102 steelhead young
  • 16 steelhead sub-adults
  • 1 adult steelhead
  • 1 juvenile pacific lamprey
  • 119 riffle sculpins
  • 586 Sacramento suckers
  • Too many California roach to count
  • 237 crayfish, mostly signal crayfish
  • 7 large bullfrog tadpoles

 "This is not an invitation to go fishing in Sonoma Creek," Lee emphasized. "Many of these species are endangered, and it is illegal to so much as bother a steelhead, let alone catch one."

Beavers and otters are also returning to the creek, adding another element to the complex process of restoring the native creek plant and wildlife habitats. Beavers eat tree bark and soft plants, including the roots of water plants, while otters are voracious consumers of creek-dwelling fish.

The video may be seen online at


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Community Calendar

Plan Bay Area 2050 Workshop
Creekside Nature Hike
Sugarloaf Trail Crew
Night Sky Trails
Creekside Nature Hike
Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance Fundraiser
Forest Therapy
Economic Recovery town hall meeting