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eNewsletter | February 2022

In This Month's Edition

  • RCD Updates: Winterfest: GrizzlyCorps Volunteer at Ocean Breeze Dairy for Riparian Restoration Project, TEAMS field trips are back, Red Alder Tree Highlight
  • People Spotlight: Torrey Olsen, Retired Board Member
  • Resources: Healthy Soils Incentives Program 2021/2022 UPDATE, How to Harness the Bounty of the Wet Season, Fire Safe Alliance Meeting
  • Workshops: How to live happily ever after with your trees and woody shrubs and vines, Compost Use in AG Workshop, Stewarding Forests for Wildlife and Fire Resilience, Saving Western Monarchs: Creating Habitat in California, Early Springtime Birding, UC Climate Stewards Course w/ Sonoma Ecology Center
  • Other News: The Relationships Between Soil Health and Food Nutritional Quality, Food Access Volunteers Needed in Sonoma County, AG Census 2022: Make Sure Your Farm or Ranch Counts!

What's New at Gold Ridge?

Winterfest: Grizzly Corps Volunteer at Ocean Breeze Dairy for Riparian Restoration Project


A group of amazing GrizzlyCorps + some GRRCD staff came out to Valley Ford, CA to help plant some trees and shrubbery at Ocean Breeze Dairy. They planted along Ebabias Creek's riparian restoration project! Their efforts helped greatly in getting a lot of plants in the ground.

Our project manager, William Hart and GrizzlyCorps fellow Jenna Kahn and helped plan this out, along with great assistance from GRRCD and Fire Safe Sonoma GrizzlyCorps fellow Mason Inumerable, 15 other great GrizzlyCorps Fellows with guidance from Leia Giambastiani, Senior Restoration Project Manager from Point Blue Conservation Science and Mike Griffin!

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TEAMS Field Trips are Back!


The Sonoma and Gold Ridge RCDs are very excited to announce in-person 3rd and 4th grade field trips coming up in Spring 2022! In partnership with the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District (Ag + Open Space), the TEAM program invites elementary students to experience our diverse agricultural landscapes and ecosystems of Sonoma County. See our TEAM flyer detailing our spring 2022 field trip lineup, learn how to sign-up, and where to submit a request for transportation reimbursement.

For more details visit the TEAM program webpage here. Please contact Christine Kuehn, Education and Communications Manager at if you are interested in participating or learning more. There is no charge for these field trips, which is made possible by the voters of Sonoma County who fund the work of Ag + Open Space with a quarter-cent sales tax.

Red Alder Tree Highlight

By Mason Inumerable

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The red alder, or Alnus rubra, is a deciduous broadleaf tree that is native to western North America. It is found from southeast Alaska all the way to Southern California in mostly moist woods and riparian areas. It is a good pioneer species that can colonize and thrive in recently disturbed or cleared areas. The red alder is not actually red on the outside, but rather gets its name from the red dye made from its bark and the red wood inside when it is cut. A similar tree is the white alder which does not have quite colorful features, is smaller, and is more of an inland species. The red alder is a great pioneer species partially because of its rapid growth to 40-80 feet long, though the official record for tallest red alder is 105 feet! They prefer to live fast and die young, and rarely live past 100 years old. Red alder often has thin, gray bark with patches of white lichens growing on it. One of its most distinguishing features is its wavy, toothed leaves whose edges are slightly rolled under itself. Long catkins are the male flower that appear in spring, before leaves appear, that produces lots of pollen. It then produces small brown cone-like strombiles less than an inch long that stay on the tree. You can find both male and female individual flowers on the same tree.

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The red alder is a well-known lumber tree and the wood is used to make inexpensive furniture, cabinets, tool handles, and paper pulp. The versatility, affordability, and unique red color of the lumber makes it considered the most important commercial hardwood of the Pacific Northwest. Another use of the red alder tree is the red dye that can be extracted from the bark. Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest frequently used this red dye for their fish nets, making the nets “invisible” to fish. The bark also has medicinal purposes since the bark contains salicin, which is chemically related to acetylsalicylic acid, commonly known as aspirin. In addition to its commercial and medicinal uses, the red alder is utilized as a rotation crop. Before growing conifers, red alder trees can symbiotically fix atmospheric nitrogen, which increases soil nitrogen accretion rates. This unique ability the red alder tree has, has been proven to allow for increased growth and yields in the conifers planted after the red alders spent some time in that same soil. 

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Red alder may be considered by some to be a “weed tree” but is actually often the first choice for ecological restoration in disturbed habitats. Its fast rate of growth helps it provide shaded and sheltered conditions for other trees and life. Finches eat red alder seeds while deer and elk eat the leaves, twigs, and buds of young alders. Deer also find alder forests a great escape from hot days. It has an extensive root system which helps control erosion along riparian areas. In Sonoma County, make sure to keep a lookout for them in coastal riparian areas such as Willow Creek and Dutch Bill Creek.


Board Meetings

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Want to know more about what the RCD is doing? Want to get to know our Board? You can find details on our Board Meetings here

People Spotlight

Torrey Olsen, Retired Board Member


Torrey Olson started as an associate director for the Gold Ridge RCD in December 2012 and became a director in January of 2015. He recently retired from the board November 2021. Just outside Graton, he owned and operated Gabriel Farm until he and his family relocated to Whideby Island in Washington State at the end of 2021. Gabriel Farm is a certified organic Asian pear and apple orchard, where they also cultivate persimmons, plums, pineapple guavas and flowers. Torrey became involved in RCD work after a pollinator hedgerow project was completed on his farm. He was impressed by the RCD’s organization and approachable nature. The RCD was able to help him increase the natural pollinator habitats on his land, something he doesn’t believe would have been possible without our help. The RCD’s ability to create a seamless connection with the farmers was something that he appreciated and made sure to reinforce during his time on the board. This emphasis on developing and maintaining deep, strong connections with local farmers and landowners was something Torrey brought to the table as a director, but also something he felt was a universal belief all the board members found important. 

Torrey Olson now lives in Langley, Washington with his wife, Lucy Olsen and their 16 year old son Henry. He explained how this transition from managing fruit trees to owning 20 acres of mostly forest trees has been difficult. He is taking a forestry class with the Washington State Extension to further educate himself on how to manage these different kinds of trees. 


Healthy Soils Incentives Program 2021/2022 UPDATE

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The HSP Incentives Program is accepting applications on a rolling basis and nearing the solicitation deadline of February 25, 2022, 5 p.m., P.T. As of February 3, 2022, we have received 1,039 applications requesting over $73 million. To date, CDFA has awarded over $27 million to 384 applications.It may appear that we received sufficient applications to allocate available funds, however, we strongly encourage interested stakeholders to apply as not all currently submitted applications will meet the minimum score to be awarded.

Gold Ridge RCD is here to help you apply to CDFA's Healthy Soils Program.

Contact William Hart for one-on-one assistance on your application.

Phone: (707) 823-5244 ext. 15


Learn How to Apply 
Click Here to Apply

How to Harness the Bounty of the Wet Season

By Sonoma Ecology Center


January brought lower than average rainfall and there’s no way to be sure of what’s in store in the coming months. After watching creek beds dry out and reservoir levels dip to dangerously low levels last year, imagining another season short on water can bring anxiety. It’s worth considering what we can do now, asking the question - How can we harness the bounty of the wet season all year long?

Click here to read!

Fire Safe Alliance Meeting Feb 17th at 2pm

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This presentation will be done by Caerleon Safford of Permit Sonoma's Wildfire Prevention Division. She will be talking about Wildfire Adapted Sonoma County, which is one of Sonoma County's FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Projects.

Click Here to Register



How to live happily ever after with your trees and woody shrubs and vines

Feb 19, 11am - 12pm, Online

Register Here

This class is designed to give you all the information you need to end up with the right tree, woody shrub, or vine for the right place in your garden. 

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Compost Use in AG Workshop

Feb 18, 10am -1pm, Online

Feb 25, 9am - 5pm, In person

Register Here

Partners at UC ANR, CA Compost Coalition, and Santa Rosa Junior College are hosting a 2-day intensive workshop on compost use in agriculture.


Stewarding Forests for Wildlife and Fire Resilience

Feb 26, 9am -3pm, In person

Register Here

Are you a landowner with the desire to steward forests for fire resilience and to benefit wildlife? In this workshop, you can learn from Pepperwood’s Preserve Manager – Michael Gillogly, and Assistant Preserve Manager – Devyn Friedfel. 


Saving Western Monarchs: Creating Habitat in California

Feb 24, 10am-11am, Online

Register Here

We will talk about the status of western monarchs, including information from the recent overwintering counts, and then discuss the work Xerces is doing with partners around the state to create and protect monarch habitat in their overwintering and breeding grounds.


Early Springtime Birding

Feb 27, 8am-11am, In person

Register Here

Early mornings are for the birds! Join avid birder and environmental educator, Nicole Barden, for a sensational morning of looking and listening for the late winter and early spring birds who grace us with their song and beauty each year. 

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UC Climate Stewards Course w/ Sonoma Ecology Center

Jan 29-Mar 12, All Day - In person

Register Here

As one of 9 pilot programs across the state, the 7-week UC Climate Stewards Course seeks to foster a committed corps of volunteers ready to effectively engage in transformative local solutions to promote community and ecosystem resilience in a changing climate.

Other News

The Relationships Between Soil Health and Food Nutritional Quality


The Soil Health Institute (SHI), the non-profit charged with safeguarding and enhancing the vitality and productivity of soils, has released “Exploring the Relationship Between Soil Health and Food Nutritional Quality: A Summary of Research Literature.”

Full Report
Executive Summary

Food Access Volunteers Needed in Sonoma County


Several of their agencies addressing food access are in great need of volunteers to help provide food to our community members throughout Sonoma County. Various opportunities available. Click here to view all opportunities.

AG Census 2022: Make Sure Your Farm or Ranch Counts!


Your agricultural operation, large or small, is important to U.S. agriculture. NASS conducts a census of all agricultural operations every five years as well as other agricultural surveys. We need to know about all types of agricultural operations of all sizes. 

Click Here to Take the Survey!

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