David Koehler, Sonoma Land Trust  presented an overview of the activities of the Sonoma Land Trust
David Koehler, Sonoma Land Trust
David presented an overview of the activities of the Sonoma Land Trust, a nonprofit foundation whose mission is to preserve open space in Sonoma County. David has extensive experience in this area, having been the Executive Director of the San Joaquin River Parkway and Conservation Trust from 1990-2014. In 2012 he received a Partners in Conservation award for his work with that organization. He has a degree in environmental biology from California State University, Fresno. He has been with the Sonoma Land Trust since 2014.
The Sonoma Land Trust was formed in 1976. It currently has a staff of 32 members and is governed by a volunteer board of directors. It receives its funding through donations and grants from various entities. It has national accreditation for its services.
As a nonprofit trust, its main purpose is to secure land, presently held in private ownership, and preserve it for open space designation and possible public usage in perpetuity. This is done through a variety of mechanisms. Funds permitting, fee title acquisition of properties is obtained. This is a somewhat costly way of obtaining property. They also work to obtain conservation easements, somewhat more complex system to ensure long-term open space use of lands. Usually this involves coordinating several governmental and non-profit agencies that purchase an easement from the property owner resulting in changes in the tax basis for the property, which does remain in private ownership.
The Sonoma Land Trust recently acquired the Estero Ranch, connecting it with an already existent 127 acre Estero Americano Preserve, creating a nearly 700 acre parcel of land that will remain in agricultural use but will also be open for public use as funding allows for its development.
The Sonoma land trust is also involved in making properties available for the wildlife corridor serving Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties which allows wildlife to travel safely through the area by building passages under existing roadways throughout a wide swath of land. They have incorporated part of their nature camera system along this pathway and have been amazed with the variety of animals that have been seen using it, including a bear, porcupines and of course wild turkeys, deer, beavers and other wildlife.
Another project, nearing completion, is restoration of approximately 1000 acres of former wetlands/salt-marsh at the north end of San Pablo Bay. This project has been many years in its preparation, and recently the levee holding out the water from the bay was breached and water allowed back into the area. Less than three months later, there are already signs of returning waterfowl and other wildlife to the area as well as restoration of some of the native marsh flora.
Sonoma Land Trust also has numerous outdoor activities at their various properties including hikes, volunteer workdays, naturalist instructional hikes, and general public hiking for picnics and views of the magnificent scenery.
Members can find out more about their programs at sonomalandtrust.org.
The club wishes to thank Dave for his most informative presentation on this wonderful organization and its activities. A donation was made on behalf of the Sonoma Land Trust to Polio Plus, Rotary International's program for worldwide elimination of polio.