eNewsletter | February Edition
In this month's edition:

  • Virtual TEAM Program goes live for elementary students!
  • Planting milkweed for Monarchs
  • Welcome to the team, Kris!
  • North Bay Forest Improvement Program now taking applications
  • Restore California: "Eating our way to a healthier planet" from Gold Ridge RCD
  • One month away: 2021 Soil Health Symposium - see the speaker lineup
  • Burn piles: what you need to know - added resources
What's New at Your RCD
Virtual TEAM Program goes live - watch our promo video!
Learning transcends the classroom.
Our virtual program enables learners to study the diversity of local agriculture from their homes. Students of the TEAM program explore and engage with the interconnections of our landscapes and the people that steward them.

How do farmers adapt to the seasons? Where does our food come from? Why do we need pollinators? These are just a few of the questions we investigate during our visit to Open Field Farm. We hope you can join us! Teachers, please email us at info@sonomarcd.org to learn more and to sign your class up for this engaging, asynchronous learning experience. This program is made possible with support from Sonoma Ag + Open Space and tax payers like you. Thank you!
Milkweed for Monarchs
Monarch butterflies in the west have declined by 99% over the past 20 years. Milkweed is the butterfly's host plant - the only species they lay their eggs on. The toxins in milkweed have not been shown to be harmful to livestock or people in small quantities, therefore milkweed can be planted on rangelands, yards, and in small clearing within forested lands to help revive the imperiled monarch population.

Interested in planting milkweed? Gold Ridge and Sonoma RCD are available to provide technical assistance on incorporating monarch friendly plants into hedgerows and Carbon Farm Plans. We will also be hosting a monarch plant sale this spring. Click the image to see the full PDF!
Welcome to the team, Kris!
We are excited to announce that Kris Ballard is the newest addition to our team as Office Assistant!
Kris has over a decade of experience in providing administrative support to professionals working in resource conservation. His role will be vital to the internal function of the RCD. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from California State University, Sacramento, and is currently enrolled in University of California, San Diego Extension’s Copyediting Program. Kris was born and raised in Santa Rosa. Welcome aboard, Kris!
Community Engagement
Apply now: North Bay Forest Improvement Program
The North Bay Forest Improvement Program (NBFIP), developed by Rebuild NorthBay Foundation (RNBF) in partnership with the Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs) of Mendocino, Napa, and Sonoma County, and Clear Lake Environmental Research Center (CLERC) is a cutting-edge cost share program, providing public funds to support private investment in forest stewardship activities. Funding will support reducing vegetative fuel loads, insect infestation, and disease epidemics on forested private properties in Lake, Mendocino, Napa, and Sonoma County. Specific methods supported by the program may include forest management planning, site preparation, tree planting and protection, forest thinning and pruning, and supervision of these activities will be done by Registered Professional Foresters.

“Rebuild NorthBay Foundation and our partnering RCDs are at the forefront of innovation with this program,” said Dr. Lisa Micheli, a RNBF Board member. “NBFIP is being looked to by CAL FIRE as a model program for technical expertise and financial incentives. These resources will help residents, especially those in disadvantaged communities, get work done on their own properties that increase our collective resilience to wildfire. It is super exciting.”

“In recent years, we’ve seen a major uptick in requests for assistance managing forestland,” said Valerie Quinto, of Sonoma RCD. “Folks are realizing that in forests shaped by decades of fire suppression, they may need to take a more active role in managing fuel buildup. NBFIP will be one tool in the toolbox to support proactive land stewards as they work to make our forests healthier and more resilient.”

Over the next three years, NBFIP aims to support 40 forest health and resilience projects in the four participating counties, with at least 15 percent of the program dollars benefiting disadvantaged communities. The program is funded primarily by a $1.5M CAL FIRE Wildfire Resilience and Forestry Assistance grant through CA Proposition 68.

NBFIP is accepting applications beginning February 2, 2021. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis; there is no application deadline. For the application and more information, visit our website here. Flyer pictured above available on our website.
Eating our way to a healthier planet
Written by William Hart and Adriana Stagnaro from Gold Ridge RCD
“Whether you call it carbon farming, regenerative farming, or conservation agriculture, we appreciate your interest in turning bad atmospheric carbon into good soil carbon. And we’d like to help cover the cost of creating all this public benefit.” This is the statement Zero Food Print makes about its new grant program, Restore California, which pays farmers for their ambitious adoption of climate-smart practices. Restore California receives funds from restaurants and other businesses participating in the Zero Foodprint program, as well as charitable contributions. These funds provide grants for the implementation of Healthy Soil Practices, enhanced natural resource management, and climate change resilience and mitigation on working lands. Learn more at: zerofoodprint.org

How to participate:
First, eat at a ZFP restaurant and opt to pay the 1% charge on your meal. The proceeds go to farms instituting climate beneficial practices. Find participating restaurants here, more being added all the time: zerofoodprint.org/find-zfp 

Second, if you’re a farmer with a plan in mind for reducing carbon emissions, you can apply to get funded for your actions. All managers and owners of agricultural operations in Sonoma County are eligible to apply. The program will have $300,000 in funding available for on-farm climate smart agriculture practices, such as hedgerow planting, silvopasture, compost application on grassland, and 25 other eligible practices. Learn more: zerofoodprint.org/apply 

Gold Ridge and Sonoma RCDs are here to help you apply to the Restore California Program. We are providing full one-on-one assistance to complete all steps of your application including technical advice and mapping. We will serve as many folks as we can but will prioritize those who contact us first. Please email: 
Virtual Workshops | Resources
33rd Annual California Small Farm Conference
Brought to you by Community Alliance with Family Farmers
Have you heard the 33rd Annual California Small Farm Conference is going virtual this year? Join us for a week of FREE, interactive online forums, webinars and videos featuring diverse voices exploring local food and agricultural topics. Hear from experts from all over the golden state and participate in discussions with fellow farmers, ranchers, and advocates on topics ranging from on-farm tools to marketing to carbon sequestration. Attend just one workshop or attend them all. 

Check out the full lineup and register here: www.caff.org/conference2021
You can also RSVP on Facebook
Don't miss the "2021 Soil Health Symposium" on March 11-12th
The North Coast Soil Hub’s fourth annual Soil Health Symposium will be held virtually from 8:30 am – 12 pm on March 11-12, 2021.

Speakers will include:
Dr. Greg Jones (Linfield University)
Greg Pennyroyal (Wilson Creek Winery)
Lisa Micheli (Pepperwood Preserve)
Kari Flores (Robert Sinskey Vineyards)
Tegan Passalaqua (Turley Wine Cellars)
Stuart Bewley (Alder Springs Vineyard)
Kelly Mulville (Paicines Ranch)
Dr. Cristina Lazcano (UC Davis)
Ryan Johnston (Biotic Beverages)
Paul Dolan (Truett-Hurst)
Julie Johnson (Tres Sabores Vineyard)
North Coast Resource Conservation Districts

If you have any questions please contact Katy Brantley, Project Manager from Mendocino County RCD at katy.brantley@mcrcd.org. Visit the North Coast Soil Health Hub for information on soil health trials and research going on in our region: soilhub.org Click here to read more about this event and to RSVP
Have you tuned into "Cows, compost and carbon" yet?
At the end of 2020, we hosted our last in a series of events showcasing Healthy Soils project at Sonoma Mountain Institute (SMI). We heard updates about the SMI demo project over the last year, soil samples results, and long term plans for Carbon Farming at their ranch. To complement this project, we had another Healthy Soils project share their experience applying compost to rangeland among other regenerative ag practices. Lastly we discussed the future carbon markets with the Carbon Cycle Institute.
Pile Burning Regulations and Guidance in the Rainy Season - updated resource content
Written by Jacob McDaniel, GrizzlyCorps Fellow at Sonoma RCD
Before You Burn   
Now that fire season is over and the rains have returned, regulations around pile burning have opened up throughout Sonoma County. Pile burning can be an effective method of reducing fuels around your home and promoting healthier forests, but it is important to burn safely and in compliance with pertinent regulations. Before burning, check that it is a permissive burn day, as well as that day’s weather forecast -- Never burn in windy conditions or during unfavorable weather. Make sure to prepare the burn site, clearing the zone around the pile of vegetation to allow for a 10 foot clearance of bare dirt around the pile. Watch for overhead hazards like power lines and tree branches. Build your pile of dry vegetative material only. Dense piles with heavy material on top should result in good consumption of fuels. Piles should be no more than 4 feet wide and 4 feet tall, keeping in mind that more material can always be added as the pile burns down. Keeping piles manageable will help them burn down to hot coals by the end of the day, resulting in lighter smoke impacts to the surrounding community. This is because burning during times of the day with less relative humidity will result in a hotter, less smokey burn. Air quality issues from burn piles can often arise at night when an inversion occurs and fog settles in since smoke and heat are trapped closer to the ground and particulates can’t dissipate into the atmosphere. While burning, an adult should always be present and water and a shovel should be readily available at all times.  

Pile burning after the end of fire season generally does not require additional permitting or inspections from Cal Fire beyond an annual burn permit, which is free and remains valid for the calendar year. You can obtain one of these permits by watching a short safety video and entering your information on the Cal Fire burn permit website. In addition to this permit, you must coordinate with your regional air quality district in order to burn. These eased regulations are only in place until about May 1st when fire season returns. Sonoma County is regulated by two air quality districts, Northern Sonoma County Air Pollution Control District, and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. To determine which district you should coordinate with and purchase your burn permit from, consult this map

Burning Regulations by District
Northern Sonoma County Air Pollution Control District (NoSoCoAir) generally includes the following communities:
Annapolis, Bodega, Bodega Bay, Camp Meeker, Cazadero, Cloverdale, Forestville, Fort Ross, Geyserville, Healdsburg, Knights Valley, Monte Rio, Occidental, Russian River, San Antonio, Sea Ranch, Sotoyome, and Timber Cove.

Permit fees for residential burning in this district are $30. Once you have purchased your permit from the website, make sure to call the day before to notify of your burn and get the weather forecast from the air pollution control district. For more information, please visit: https://www.nosocoair.net/permits.html

Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) generally includes the following communities:  
Bennett Valley, Bloomfield, Cotati, Freestone, Glen Ellen, Gold Ridge, Graton, Hessel, Kenwood, Mayacamas, Petaluma, Penngrove, Rancho Adobe, Rincon Valley, Rohnert Park, Roseland, Santa Rosa, Schell Vista, Sears Point / Skaggs Island, Sebastopol, Sonoma, Twin Hills, Two Rock, Valley Ford, Valley of the Moon, Wilmar, and Windsor.

Burning in this district comes with greater regulations, and if you live in these regions you are prohibited from burning yard debris such as pruned branches, lawn clippings, and gathered leaves. However, you may burn for forest management, range management, and wildland vegetation management, as well as other agriculturally focused burns like the removal of crop stubble and pruned material from orchards. Pile burning for the purposes of forest protection and forest health are allowed on non commercial forest properties. To learn more about each type of approved burn in this air quality management district and see if your planned burn fits into an approved category, visit https://www.baaqmd.gov/permits/open-burn. Permit fees in this district vary by burn type. 

Lastly, regardless of where you burn you must report your burn location to REDCOM, the Sonoma County Dispatch Center, at (707) 565-1700 once you have been given clearance to burn. 

More Information and Resources
Find more information at the following links:

At the RCD, we take the approach of recognizing the multiple tools in the toolbox of any land manager. While pile burning is not the only tool, and has its drawbacks, for many people it is still a necessary part of their land and fuels management efforts. We share this article in the spirit of making sure that people who are planning to pile burn this year have the information they need to do so responsibly. We are also working partners to explore other tools as well.
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