Kenwood Press

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News: 10/15/2020

Campfires on Sonoma Mountain viewed dimly by GE Forum presenters

Fires, campers, improved safety and creek ecology discussed

Glen Ellen Forum meetings grow ever more lively with short presentations on current events of local interest each month. The Oct. 5 gathering brought forth nearby residents concerned about camping and campfires proposed for the new North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park. Poppy Darby spoke about crosswalk proposals for downtown, and Sonoma Ecology Center lead ecologist Steve Lee gave an update on Sonoma Creek conditions and needs.

The meetings are virtual, attracting a substantial online audience to hear about local topics firsthand. Forum moderator and steering committee chairman Nick Brown noted that board and officer elections will be happening next April, following the next Forum board meeting in January. Anyone interested in joining the board can learn more about it by contacting the GEF at

Rebecca Casciani and Jennifer Beer live near each other toward the high side of Sonoma Mountain Road. They are concerned with a proposal that could allow camping and campfires at the area’s newest regional park, the North Sonoma Mountain Regional Park. There are three alternate plans now being considered in the update for the Park and Open Space Preserve Master Plan.

One proposed use for the new park would involve permitting camping and camp fires in a high-fire danger area served by the narrow road near the apex of Sonoma Mountain Road.

“A lot of folks have serious issues with that,” Beer told the video participants. She and neighbor Casciani started circulating a 10-question survey on Sept. 23 and announced the interim results at an Oct. 11 video meeting with a growing group of friends and neighbors. Initial results show a strong antipathy to allowing campfires. The survey will close before comments are due on the Master Plan alternatives.

Proposed new park trails would join Jack London State Historic Park trails to an entrance on Sonoma Mountain Road, a narrow and potholed road that traverses the mountain from Sonoma Valley to Petaluma Hill Road.

The survey can be taken at, and the proposed alternatives in the Master Plan may be examined at

Sonoma Ecology Center’s Research and Restoration Program Manager Steve Lee presented a brief outline of how Sonoma Creek neighbors can best help with the waterway’s long-term health. Residents who draw water from the creek or from nearby wells have already been asked to cut back as much as possible due to reduced flow this year.

Any landowner interested in keeping the Sonoma Creek healthy and wildlife friendly, as well as human friendly, may call Lee at 996-0712, ext. 109, or write him at While the SEC would like to be able to provide all consultations free, the cost of keeping up their work requires fees on occasion.

Poppy Darby of the Forum’s Traffic and Safety Commitee is preparing a list of resources and researching the possibilities of developing a smart phone app to provide local emergency resources. “Tabs on our cell phones to access information on generators and lights, how to plan for seven- or 14-day evacuations, and more.”

Also discussed at the Forum meeting were other traffic and safety considerations to make crossing Arnold Drive downtown a safer process, with a pedestrian crosswalk from the Glen Ellen Village Market to Les Pascals Patisserie, possibly including flashing lights.

The Glen Ellen Fire Department does not like the idea of speed bumps (slows down response time), though moderator Nick Brown suggested that the existing pot holes are working as “reverse speed bumps.”

Shannon Lee raised the issue of confusion about evacuation zones that seems to be endemic throughout the county. “Look at the map and know your evacuation zone,” was the best advice available for now; several people agreed that the most recent emergency was better-conducted than 2017.

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