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News: 06/15/2016

Calabazas Preserve environmental resources study ready for review



At some point in the future, the 1,290-acre Calabazas Creek Open Space Preserve will be open for public use and possibly link to Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, but a number of studies, reports and public meetings will have to occur before it becomes a reality.

One of those necessary state-mandated studies for managing and protecting the environmental resources of the property is now available for public comment.

The preserve is located off the top of Nuns Canyon Road, and stretches across the western slope of the Mayacamas Mountains and the northeastern portion of Sonoma Valley.

In 2004, the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District bought the property from Beltane, Inc. Since that time, the District has managed the land as an open space preserve, with public access limited to docent-led outings. Volunteers have worked to patrol and monitor the preserve.

The Resource Management Plan that is now available for review does not address additional potential for public access, such as trails, specifics that will be dealt with in a future “master plan” for the area and the environmental document accompanying that master plan.

What the Resource Management Plan does look at are ways to preserve the property’s natural and cultural resources, including looking at erosion and sedimentation issues, threats from invasive non-native plant and wildlife species to native habitats and species, and threats from human activity such as illegal marijuana growing on the preserve.

Several “special-status” wildlife species have been found on the property during surveys, such as spotted owls, falcons, steelhead trout in Calabazas Creek, yellow-legged and red-legged frogs, mountain lions, the California giant salamander, and Nuttall’s woodpeckers.

A public comment period for the Resource Management Plan and associated environmental documents is open between June 20 and July 20. The documents can be reviewed at www.sonomaopenspace.org, at the Open Space District office at 747 Mendocino Ave. in Santa Rosa, the Sonoma Valley Regional Library at 755 West Napa St. in Sonoma, and the Oakmont Library at 6575 Oakmont Dr.



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