eNewsletter | January Edition
In this month's edition:

  • Celebrating 75 years this year!
  • Mark West Flow Study 2017-2020 released
  • Welcome to our newest staff member
  • Vineyard Soil Health demonstration notable takeaways
  • Burn piles: what you need to know
  • In the News: Conservation Job Board RCD feature
  • Upcoming events: Registration live for virtual "4th Annual Soil Health Symposium"
  • Cows, Compost and Carbon recording now on YouTube
What's New at Your RCD
Looking ahead, celebrating 75 years
As we enter 2021, we reflect on the past and diligently plan for the future. On February 25, the Sonoma RCD will turn 75. After seven and a half decades of serving our communities we are proud of our relationships with partners and land managers that result in the restoration, conservation and sustained health of our shared natural resources. Our adaptive approach is at the heart of the RCD, shifting to serve the most pertinent needs of our community to protect our soils, water, wildlife, support working landscapes, and aid in the recovery of our watersheds after natural disaster strikes. We look now to the future and the years ahead of us to engage diverse audiences within our communities, to learn and listen to better serve the needs of district land users, and finalize a Strategic Plan this spring that will help us to forge innovative pathways that will strive to reach a new vision we are establishing for our district. Stay tuned for more about our anniversary in the coming months!
Mark West Creek Flow Availability Analysis Report 2017-2020
The Mark West Creek watershed provides critical habitat for threatened and endangered anadromous fish and was identified in the California Water Action Plan as one of five streams statewide for targeted flow enhancement efforts. Effective implementation of a flow enhancement program requires a detailed understanding of the natural and man-made controls on spring and summer streamflows. The primary goal of this project is to provide a comprehensive analysis of streamflow conditions and the relative effectiveness of various potential flow enhancement actions in upper Mark West Creek watershed relative to salmonid habitat requirements. The project provides a framework for prioritizing restoration efforts and developing effective strategies and projects to protect and enhance streamflows.

This study evaluates the upper 40 square miles of the Mark West Creek watershed upstream of the Santa Rosa Plain (Figure E1), which have been identified as critical salmonid summer rearing habitat. The study was conducted over a three year period and was completed by the Coast Range Watershed Institute (CRWI) in cooperation with the Sonoma Resource Conservation District (SRCD), O’Connor Environmental, Inc., Friends of Mark West Watershed, Sonoma County Regional Parks, and the Pepperwood Foundation. Funding for the project was provided by a Streamflow Enhancement Program grant from the California Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB).
Gathering Insights About Tillage and Compost Benefits in a Sonoma County Vineyard
A local field demonstration has been slowly gathering insights on potential soil health benefits from adopting reduced tillage and compost application in vineyards. Two years of soil health data have now been collected from the field trial at Jackson Family Wine’s Saralee’s Vineyard since the research plots were established in 2018. Designed to look at carbon sequestration potential and soil health improvement, field plots were set up across two vineyard blocks (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) to look at three levels of tillage – full till, alternate year, and no-till, with compost applied to half of the plots to observe how compost application interplays with different tillage regimens. So far, a few notable differences have been observed among the treatment plots:
  • There are some notable differences in soils between the tractor row and vinerows, with vinerows less Total Carbon and Active Carbon (carbon portion most-readily available to micronutrients).
  • Wet Aggregate Stability increased within the first year where tillage decreased, with the highest levels found in no-till plots. Wet aggregate stability measures how well soil aggregates (clumps) can resist falling apart when hit by raindrops and wetted and so is an indirect measure of erosion potential.
  • Total Carbon and Nitrogen levels higher in the upper 4 inches of soil within plots that received compost vs. those that did not. No differences were apparent between the different tillage frequencies.

Current data does not show many statistically significant differences between treatments in the field trial. However, other published soil health research indicates that changes in soil health take time, so patience is key. This field demonstration will continue gathering data again in 2021 and 2023 to capture potential changes at 3 and 5 years after practice adoption. If you would like to learn more about this field trial or about assessing soil health in your vineyard, feel free to reach out to our Project Manager, Anya Starovoytov, at astarovoytov@sonomarcd.org or (707) 569 – 1448 x109. Additionally, a recording from our summer virtual “Demo Workshop III: Exploring connections on the vineyard floor,” which illustrates the latest data from this site can be found on our YouTube account @Sonoma RCD.
A warm welcome to the newest member of our Staff
We are excited to announce that Wendi Asuncion is our newest addition to our team as Staff Accountant! Wendi has 30 years of experience in accounting and finance, including two decades in the airline and hotel industries in Hawaii and Nevada, and—for the last 13 years—in the wine industry in Sonoma County. Over the course of her career, Wendi has overseen budgeting, monthly close, audit coordination with multiple government agencies, and human resources, including payroll and employee benefits. After retiring from the wine industry, Wendi decided to put her skills to use with mission-driven nonprofit and government entities. She’s especially excited to directly benefit her community through her work
at the RCD. Welcome Wendi!
Community Engagement
Pile Burning Regulations and Guidance in the Rainy Season
Written by Jacob McDaniel, GrizzlyCorps Member 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 does not require a permit from CalFire, however 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:
In the News
How Conservation Districts Protect Natural Resources
Article by Conservation Job Board Network
“At Sonoma RCD, we have the privilege of supporting conservation and resilience efforts in one of the most beautiful and ecologically-rich places in the world. We do this by working with people, and that’s what makes our team special: they are individuals with strong technical backgrounds who at the same time are wholeheartedly dedicated to helping the people in our community. It’s a special mix, and it makes our jobs very rewarding!”
Valarie Minton Quinto, Executive Director
Virtual Workshops | Resources
4th Annual "Soil Health Symposium" March 11-12, 2021
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. This event will bring together growers, vineyard managers, scientists, agency representatives, and others to provide an overview of vineyard soil health and potential climate change impacts and to discuss the cutting-edge practices and the latest data from the field. The first day will focus on Climate Change and Soil Health on the global and regional scales, as well as an overview of the North Coast Soil Hub project. The second day, “Shop Talk: Soil Health in the Field,” will feature growers and researchers discussing undervine management practices improving soil health, compost and the soil biome, and the benefits of integrating livestock into agricultural systems. We will end the day hearing about how soil health factors into a business’s economics and marketing.
"Cows, compost and carbon" virtual tailgate recording available
In December, we hosted our last in 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.
Attend a technical workshop to receive the latest science-based information on how to best manage your soil, water and wildlife on
your property.
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