Sonoma County's grazing land, sheep running in green grassy hills.
August 2021
In this month's edition:
RCD Updates: Applications for board of directors are now open, Apply to our Grazing Program, Salmon Creek drought conditions, Fire Preparedness Resources, Update on our Green Valley Farm Water-saving Project
Team Highlight: Sophia Tsue (New Education and Outreach Coordinator)
Publications: Fire Safe Sonoma Wildfire Articles, Forest Stewardship Education Newsletter
Workshops & Activities: Western Drought Webinar, North Bay Drought Webinar Recordings, Dairying, Ranching, and Climate Management Webinar Resources, Wild & Scenic Film Festival
Other News: Sonoma County Biomass Business Competition Winners, Climate Farm School, Forest Literacy Framework
What's new at Gold Ridge
Now Accepting Board Director Applications
Apply now!
Interested in Joining the RCD Board? We’ll have a vacancy soon. Serving on the RCD’s Board of Directors is a great way to help develop programs to help meet local resource needs. It’s a fun rewarding and meaningful way to volunteer your time.
Apply to our Grazing Program!
Applications are Now Open!
Time to Apply. Local Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs) in Sonoma County have created LandSmart Grazing -- a program designed to fund the partnership between landowners and contract grazers in the hopes of reducing the risk and rapid spread of wildfire. 

Think grazing is a good fit for your property?
Click to learn more or to apply.

Have some livestock and want to work with us?
Click to learn more or to submit your qualifications.
Salmon Creek Shrinks in Drought Year, Imperils Hundreds of Baby Salmon 
By Adriana Stagnaro
Drought conditions have challenged everyone—municipalities, farmers and ranchers, industry and rural residences—but baby salmon are feeling the heat like no one else.  
 
All throughout the West, salmon populations are facing critical conditions. Federal fisheries officials predicted in May that “more than 80% of baby [Chinook] salmon could die because of warmer water in the Sacramento River,” and the loss in one year can result in long lasting effects on the total population, a pain that will be felt by fishermen in “a few years from now, when there will be no naturally spawned salmon out in the ocean” (LA Times).
 
Locally, California Coastal Coho salmon have been on the endangered species list since 2005. For decades, agencies like the Gold Ridge RCD in the Russian River and other coastal watersheds have been focused on their recovery. 

In a tributary in the Salmon Creek Watershed, Gold Ridge RCD Project Manager Adriana Stagnaro brought a clip board to make notes on Tannery Creek’s water quality (pool depth, pool temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH) and sadly struck a line through each of the monitoring pools, which last summer were wet with a modest flow. Nearly 80% of pools this year had evaporated. In the precious few pools remaining, baby salmon, about the size of your pinky finger, darted in and out of shadows. Without additional cold water, the fish in Tannery Creek, as in so many Western streams, face a certain end.   
However, conservationists aren’t accepting these devastating conditions without making a last-ditch effort. Some agencies are literally picking up threatened fish and moving them to safer waters. For example, in Idaho, “officials recognized that endangered sockeye salmon wouldn’t make their upstream migration through hundreds of miles of warm water to their spawning habitat, so they flooded the Snake River with cool water, then trapped and trucked the fish to hatcheries” (LA Times). Similarly, rescue efforts in the Russian River watershed mean CDFW staff relocate some salmon from drying streams to the river estuary near Jenner or, if possible, to the Warm Springs Dam Fish Hatchery. 
 
In the Salmon Creek watershed, the push to rescue baby salmon, initiated by CDFW and RCD staff, was cut short by the lack of viable locations to transfer fish to. There simply wasn’t anywhere that could be dependably cool and wet throughout the summer and fall. A few candidate locations were already full with fish, and adding more would just increase competition for food and shelter. Time and resources are another limiting factor, forcing state agencies to prioritize some watersheds and fish populations above others. 
If you are interested in helping salmon populations, you have a few options:  
  • If you reside on a section of stream that stays adequately cold and wetted through the dry season, let us know. You can provide that information to RCD staff, who will pass the information on to CDFW for assessment as a potential rescue location.
  • Email Support@goldridgercd.org to get in touch.

  • Every Californian should be a water-saver, and if you live on shallow, near-stream well, you have a particularly significant opportunity to impact surface water availability for fish and other wildlife. There’s more than just taking shorter showers! 
  • Click Here to learn about reducing your indoor and outdoor water use.

Note: Please note that while it may be tempting to scoop steelhead and coho salmon from the creeks and into aquariums for safe keeping, it is illegal to do so and can jeopardize future populations by introducing foreign bacteria and viruses.  
Green Valley Farm Project Update
Learn about improvements to the agricultural pond
This summer, GRRCD facilitated the construction of a second round of improvements to the agricultural pond at Green Valley Farm and Mill, in the upper Green Valley Creek watershed.

The farm grows produce for local customers through a community-supported agriculture (CSA) operation, and had been experiencing reduced water flow through the pond’s outlet piping because of dense growth of azolla (a water fern) on the water surface. Ponds and lakes throughout Sonoma County have seen an explosion in azolla growth in recent years, which may be linked to the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
In 2019, GRRCD worked with Jerry and Don’s Yager Pump and Well to retrofit the pond outlet with filtered floating intakes, which allow water to be drawn from a clear water layer below the azolla on the surface. The second round of improvements, installed by Jerry and Don’s in July, consisted of a raft equipped with winches to make it easier to pull the heavy intakes from the water for cleaning. These improvements have increased the flow of irrigation water for the CSA’s produce, and Green Valley Farm has agreed to assist with GRRCD’s effort to increase dry season streamflow by releasing water into the creek during the summer and fall. These releases improve the odds of survival through the dry season for juvenile coho salmon and steelhead, which spend their first year in the creek before migrating to the ocean.

Funding for these projects was provided by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through a grant to the Russian River Coho Water Resources Partnership, of which GRRCD is a member. Thanks to Green Valley Farm and Mill for their participation in the project and support of GRRCD’s salmon recovery efforts. Thanks also to Jerry and Don’s Yager Pump and Well for their excellent design, fabrication and installation work.
RCD Team Highlight
Team Highlight: Meet Sophia!
The RCD's new Education and Outreach Coordinator
Hi everyone, I’m Sophia! I was a Spring Semester 2020 intern for the RCD, but now I’ve been hired part-time as the new Education and Outreach Coordinator. If you follow the RCD on Instagram or Facebook, you have probably seen a big bulk of the work I have done. Another component of my work with the RCD has been developing a style guide for the RCD’s outreach. This style guide will become available to the whole staff soon, allowing for a great sense of cohesivity among our outreach materials and anything reaching the public! I have also been working with Isis Howard, the RCD’s Project Coordinator, on our monthly eNews and with Adriana Stagnaro, the RCD’s Outreach and Project Manager, on the Annual Newsletter, both projects I hope to one day tackle on my own. I have already learned so much throughout my short time with the RCD and look forward to further developing my professional career with them.
In addition to my position at the RCD, I am also still a student at Sonoma State University where I am majoring in Liberal Studies while also working towards my Multiple Subject Teaching Credential. In my spare time, I love writing and I am a Senior Editor of our Feminist Magazine at SSU called Revival. I also love to read (some of my favorite books at the moment are: Reading With Patrick by Michelle Kuo and The Deepest Human Life by Scott Samuelson) and crocheting. Here is one of my favorite patterns I’m currently working on (it’s a turtle purse!! haha). 

Feel free to reach out to me with questions about potential outreach collaborations or in response to our monthly RCD eNewsletter. You can email me at Sophia@GoldRidgeRCD.org
Publications
Fire Safe Sonoma Newsletter
May, 2021
Our CivicSpark fellow, Cailin Notch did an amazing job with Fire Safe Sonoma's May Newsletter. She touched on a lot of important fire preparedness topics along with fire management tips! 
 
Forest Stewardship Education Newsletter
From UCANR
University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, along with UC ANR and other partners, recently published a Wildfire Home Retrofit Guide with specific recommendations on how to reduce the vulnerability of one's home to wildfire. Defensible space and home construction components are reviewed in terms of vulnerability, as well as practices that can improve a component's ability to withstand wildfire. 
Partner Workshops & Activities
Western Drought Webinar
NOAA/NIDIS
Webinar Recording
NOAA and NIDIS hosted a Western Drought Webinar on July 20th, 2021. In case you missed it, they posted the slides along with a recording of the webinar! 

They provided the most up-to-date information on drought conditions and response efforts in the Western U.S. 
North Bay Drought Webinar Recordings
Match.Graze, Livestock Emergency Survey, Drought: Ag Loss Survey
Online Webinar Recordings
UCCE updated their Drought Resources webpage with new North Bay Drought Webinar recordings! Recordings and other resources are broken up by subject and will benefit all types of land stewards and managers. Check it out!
Dairying, Ranching, and Climate Management Webinar Resources
Online Webinar Recording
The combination of science updates, climate action planning next steps, and on-farm implementation options provided by the presenters provided insights into the opportunities for solutions on North Bay farms and ranches.
Wild & Scenic Film Festival
Hosted by The Pepperwood Preserve
Online, August 12, 5-6pm PT
Join The Pepperwood Preserve in experiencing an inspiring collection of short films that uplift the voices of people who love and steward nature, which represents people of diverse backgrounds in science, conservation, and the outdoors

All proceeds and donations from this event benefit Pepperwood’s Inspiring Connections to Nature initiative and education programs. Both virtual and in-person options are available!
Other News
August 2021 Sustainable Groundwater Update
State financial assistance available
The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) was authorized $8 million by Senate Bill 108 (SB108) of which $5 million will be used to assist individual households and small water systems to replace failed drinking water wells for disadvantaged households. These funds are administered by Rural Community Assistance Corp (RCAC) and are still available.
Eligible Recipients:
Individual Households (Homeowners)
Small Water Systems serving less than 15 connections
Sonoma County Biomass Business Competition
Congratulations to the 2021 winners!
The BioBiz Competition review panel has selected the two winning projects to receive $47,500 in startup capital and technical services to launch their small business venture.

Congratulations to Soil Carbon Management Company and Forestree Collective on both their concepts to address sustainable, community-driven biomass utilization business models in Sonoma County.
Climate Farm School
Join Terra.do's Climate Farm School Program!
Join Terra.do's Climate Farm School; a 4-week program getting your hands dirty on a working Sonoma County farm and learning about the climate impact of and solutions within food systems. Learn the latest in regenerative agriculture from farmers, soil scientists, chefs, & local food policymakers, expand your food systems and farming network with our international community, and take professional and personal action in food and ag.
 
This program is for tech and business folks, entrepreneurs, and other non-farmers passionate about food and climate. Sign up by August 15th to get a hands-in-the-soil perspective on climate solutions in the food system!
Forest Literacy Framework
Free Resource for Educators!
Project Learning Tree’s new Forest Literacy Framework translates the complex language of forests, trees, forest practices, and sustainable forest management into concepts that everyone should know by the time they graduate from high school. It is designed to increase people’s understanding of forests and empower them to take actions that benefit forests and people. 

Follow the Gold Ridge RCD on Social Media!
Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date on our latest efforts and projects in our district. You can also track our hashtag, #GRRCD.