Mendocino County RCD Winter Newsletter
A rainbow over the flooded Little Lake Valley.
Photo by Marisela de Santa Anna
In the Winter 21-22 Newsletter:
Turkey Tail Fungi in Hendy Woods State Park.
Photo by Katie Smith

  • North Bay Forest Improvement Program- Applications Now Accepted

  • Husch Vineyard Rainwater Catchment Demonstration

  • CDFA Climate Smart Ag Funding Opportunities

  • Monthly Public Walks are back at the Willits Bypass

  • Board Spotlight- Longtime Board Member Retires

  • MCRCD Welcomes New Staff
North Bay Forest Improvement Program
The North Bay Forest Improvement Program (NBFIP), launched in spring 2021, is an exciting new cost-share incentives program designed to accelerate the uptake of forest stewardship activities and cultivate a fire resilient landscape. Funded by a $1.5 million award through CAL FIRE’s Proposition 68 Wildfire Resilience and Forestry Assistance Grant, the program is a collaborative effort between the Rebuild North Bay Foundation (RNBF), five Resource Conservation Districts (RCDs) in Mendocino, Lake, Sonoma, and Napa Counties, and the Clear Lake Environmental Research Center (CLERC). During the three-year duration of this pilot project, the program will support at least 40 projects in the four counties, with at least 20 percent of the program dollars benefiting disadvantaged communities identified in the 2010 census.

NBFIP operates similarly to the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the California Forest Improvement Program, leveraging public funds to help non-industrial small private forest landowners (between 5 and 500 acres) implement non-commercial forest improvement projects. The program focuses on forest health and resilience projects that reduce vegetative fuel loads and risks of wildfire, insect infestation, and disease epidemics. Practices supported by the program include site preparation, tree planting and protection, forest thinning, pruning, and woody fuels reduction. Projects taking place in oak woodlands, redwood forests, mixed evergreen forests, and ponderosa pine forests are all encouraged.

Applications to NBFIP are accepted during two batching periods each year, held in March and September. Applicants to NBFIP must typically have a forest management plan and environmental impacts review completed in order to participate. However, free technical assistance is available for residents of Mendocino and Lake Counties who reside within a census designated disadvantaged community or severely disadvantaged community (DAC/SDAC). Technical assistance provided through NBFIP includes project planning and treatment unit identification and the preparation of forest management plans that meet the standards of the California Cooperative Forest Management Plan Template. No application is necessary to receive these services.
For more information on this exciting program, how to apply, and eligibility requirements, please visit the MCRCD Forest Health and Resiliency Program website at or contact Bryce Hutchins, the MCRCD Forestry Project Manager at
Husch Vineyards Rainwater Catchment Demonstration Project
By capturing winter rains for use during the summer dry season—the time when plants, creeks, wildlife and people need it the most—we can build climate resiliency into our water systems. Rain gardens capture rainwater and allow it to infiltrate into the soil, recharging groundwater and helping plants to grow deep roots and filter pollutants. In addition, rainwater gardens create beauty, enhance biodiversity, and provide food and habitat for pollinators. This demonstration site at Husch Vineyards was developed by Mendocino County Resource Conservation District (MCRCD) through funding provided by the Wildlife Conservation Board.

Since 2018, MCRCD has been developing streamflow enhancement planning and projects on a voluntary basis, with local landowners in coordination with The Nature Conservancy and Trout Unlimited. The Husch Vineyards Demonstration Project was developed as part of the Mill Creek Collaborative Water Management Plan. The Nature Conservancy, with support from the Salmonid Restoration Federation, has developed an excellent Guidebook for Collaborative Water Management. We would like to thank Husch Vineyards for their support in this collaboration, and for Trix Holstine’s drawing of plants and pollinators features on the rain gardens interpretive signage.
Willits Mitigation Lands News
The Willits Bypass Mitigation is a compensatory mitigation project managed by MCRCD. A working landscape focusing on the rehabilitation of native habitats, the project has a public education and outreach program that offers guided educational tours and workshops. 
Willits Mitigation Project Begins Public Tours Again

By Marisela de Santa Anna
In November the Willits Bypass Mitigation Lands Project began hosting public tours again after they had been suspended since early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Plans are to have at least one public or school group visit per month. The first tour was for the Willits High School Environmental Club led by Carolyn Bakewell, Art teacher extraordinaire. Students learned about mitigation work, conservation and restoration on the project and helped to remove flagging and tree tubes that were no longer needed. Their efforts helped to remove over 1000 monitoring flags and about 25 tree tubes! They also participated by cleaning up trash as part of their visit. It was a good time had by all. In the future we are hoping the Environmental Club will come out and help with invasive plant removal.

On November 13th MCRCD staff led another public tour called The Flora and Fauna of Autumn in Little Lake Valley. We had 22 intrepid walkers come from many parts of Mendocino County including Potter Valley, Redwood Valley, Ukiah, and Willits. Even though it had not rained recently, the valley still had lots of standing water that made it tricky to walk where we wanted to. It sometimes meant walking through big puddles and mud boots were necessary. The sun did come out and it provided us with glorious weather.
We found fresh bear scat full of acorns from the giant Valley Oaks and shortly after this the bear appeared! It was delightful watching the huge black bear loping across the grassland. At just that moment a gorgeous adult Bald Eagle was spotted above the bear. We were able to set up the spotting scope and get some close views of its regal grandeur. Since it was fall, we observed and discussed the lichens hanging off the bare trees, and the many species of mosses. We walked about 4 and a half miles in a circle to return to where we started with lots of things to be excited about, including Lewis’s woodpeckers in their pink and green finery and beaver activity along Outlet Creek. The group was just fantastic and so enjoyable to spend time with.        
Our third tour in November was with a group from the Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo Indians who came to visit mitigation lands, view sedge beds, and harvest sedge root used for basket weaving. We walked out along Davis Creek where the sedge grows thick and there are many individual plants. Some basket sedge was dug up with hand tools and everyone observed that the roots were not very long. Based on our guest's Traditional Ecological Knowledge or (TEK) we learned that because the plants were growing so close together the roots were not able to fully develop. The tending of an area would have to include some thinning of the plants to promote more robust roots.. It was a beautiful afternoon spent with the Pomo people and the plants on the project.
The next scheduled tour is on January 26th from 9 to noon.
it is a wintertime walk so be sure to bring lots of layers and be prepared for mud! Call 707-841-7172 or text if you are interested in coming. We do have a limit for participants and all need to sign up prior to the tour.
CDFA Climate Smart Agriculture Funding
Mendocino County RCD is providing technical assistance to farmers & ranchers looking to improve their climate resilience through healthy soil practices and improved water use efficiency. This fall CDFA announced a new round of funding for the Healthy Soils Program and the State Water Efficiency and Enhancement Program (HSP). Both programs provide direct financial assistance to producers for a variety of practices intended to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions through carbon sequestration and reductions of on-farm emissions. The Healthy Soil Program funds implementation of new practices such as compost application, cover crops, hedgerow planting, and much more while SWEEP funds upgrades to irrigation equipment, resulting in reduced water usage and lower GHG emissions. Both program are currently accepting applications on a rolling basis.
MCRCD Board Says Goodbye to Long term Member-
Thank you, Craig!
Craig Blencowe retired from the MCRCD board this year after 30 years of service. He joined the team in '91 when the RCD consisted of a single, half-time employee with no computer. As a consulting forester, he brought invaluable expertise and an intimate awareness of the needs of Mendocino County's forest landowners. Craig is known by RCD staff and board to be a tough questioner and decisive leader. Over the years, he has never shied away from difficult conversations and has encouraged the RCD to take risks, driving the organization to become the innovative leader that it is.

Words of thanks from RCD Staff:

"We have benefitted from his mentorship, humor, intellect, and wisdom. We will miss him and at the same time, we know he will be carrying forward the work we all care about. Thanks a million, Craig!"

Patty Madigan, Conservation & Navarro River Project Manager

"Craig’s passion for natural resources, fierce questioning to ensure the board was making good decisions, and dedication to the RCD’s mission and its staff will be sorely missed but never forgotten. As Craig has stated, “we have been given an opportunity to lead; we should do so.” The RCD will not let him down."
Marry Mayeda, Former Forest Program Manager
MCRCD Welcomes New Staff
Bryce Hutchens- Forestry Project Manager
In August 2021 I had the privilege of joining the MCRCD team full time as the new Forestry Project Manager. Originally from Humboldt County, I have always felt at home in and around Northern California’s rural communities and forests. I completed my degrees in Ecosystem Management and Forestry and Conservation and Resource Studies at UC Berkeley in 2020, where I focused on socio-ecological sustainability, rural development, and the human dimensions of natural resource management. I first came to MCRCD in September 2020 when I served as a GrizzlyCorps Rural Climate Fellow in the Forest Health and Resiliency Program. During my time at the RCD, I have been fortunate to collaborate with a broad spectrum of forest landowners and residents in Mendocino County, working both to increase our resiliency to climate change and wildfire and to protect and conserve the forests we all love. I look forward to continuing these efforts, optimistic and inspired by the community I work in every day.
Seth Myrick- Sustainable Agriculture Project Manager
Seth Myrick joined MCRCD as the new Sustainable Agriculture Project Manager in November. He previously worked at CSU Chico’s Center for Regenerative Agriculture, gaining a mixture of laboratory and field soil science experience, and helping to further demonstrate the benefits of sustainable agriculture practices in the North State. CSU Chico is also where Seth received a degree in Agriculture Science with a focus in Land and Resource Management in 2019, as well as an interest in improving community and environmental health through agriculture. Seth is from Galt, CA and enjoys spending his free time outdoors, with his two younger sisters, playing video games, and listening to podcasts.
Katie Smith- GrizzlyCorps Rural Climate Fellow
Katie came to the RCD this September, serving as a GrizzlyCorps Rural Climate Fellow where she splits her time between MCRCD and the Mendocino County Fire Safe Council. In her time with MCRCD, she works primarily in the Soils Program, helping to support and enhance climate beneficial agriculture in Mendocino County. Katie graduated from UC Davis in 2020 with her degree in Environmental Science and Management with an emphasis in Ecology, Conservation & Biodiversity. Since then, she has worked as a watershed coordinator and environmental services technician, promoting habitat restoration and environmental education in the Carson River Watershed and while working with California State Parks in the Lake Tahoe Basin. In her free time, Katie loves to backpack and can often be found exploring the redwood forests for salamanders.
The GrizzlyCorps Fellowship is an AmeriCorps partnership with UC Berkeley, promoting climate action in rural communities on wild and working lands. Learn more here.
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