Mendocino County RCD News & Updates
In the Winter 2020 Newsletter:

  • Highlighted Project
  • Upcoming Events
  • Recent Events
  • Helpful Resources
  • 2019 in review
  • Willits News
We had a wonderful response to our Holiday Appeal. Thank you so much to our generous donors for supporting our programs!
Highlighted Project
Best Management Practices for Cannabis Growers Video 
Mendocino County Resource Conservation District (MCRCD) teamed up this fall with Happy Day Farms to produce an 8-minute video, based on the Watershed Best Management Practices for Cannabis Growers and Other Rural Gardeners guide. “The video is a great way to reach a wide audience in practical ways to conserve water, enhance soil health, and protect watersheds,” says project lead Patty Madigan. “A video is a powerful educational tool to communicate conservation guidelines.”
Featuring panoramic vistas and gorgeous footage of a diverse enterprise, the video was shot on a northern Mendocino County organic farm that integrates its production with farm-grown veggies, flowers, and eggs—and legal Cannabis. The focus of the 8-minute video is “what it means to be a good steward of the land”. Funding for the video was obtained through the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts, through grants from the Resources Legacy Fund and the Campbell Foundation. The video can be seen at and the 2018 version of the BMP print guide is available for download, in English and Spanish, at .
Upcoming Events
Navarro River Watershed Community Meeting and Project Tour
Restoring Stream Flows and Increasing Water Supply: Strategies for Farms, People, and Fish in the Navarro River Watershed

Community Meeting at River’s Bend Retreat Center,
Thursday, March 5th, 6 - 9 pm.

Potluck supper 6-7 pm, presentations begin promptly at 7:00 pm. Updates and strategies regarding water supply reliability and storage, fisheries restoration, soil and water conservation, flow enhancement, and volunteer monitoring will be shared by the Mendocino County Resource Conservation District, The Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, Mendocino Redwood Company, and Shippensburg University. 
Navarro Watershed Restoration Projects Tour

Friday, March 6th, 9 am - noon .

Tour will begin at the Anderson Valley High School parking lot. We will visit off-stream water storage, large wood, rainwater catchment, and stormwater projects.
To RSVP for the tour, call 462-3664, ext. 103 or email
These events are being paid for through funds from the CA Wildlife Conservation Board, Prop 84, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. 
Growing Healthy Soils on Ranches & Farms
Saturday, February 1st, 9 am - 3 pm.
Ridgewood Ranch, Willits
Please bring your own lunch.

Topics will include:
• Soil health
• Replacing weeds with high quality forage
• Planning profitability
• Ideal land infrastructure and layout
• Using high animal impact to build soil, grassland health, animal performance, and productivity
• Accelerating improvements in grasslands, oak woodlands, riparian corridors, and wetlands with planned grazing
• Biological Monitoring

Lead by Richard King of Rancher-to-Rancher, this will be an interactive day with th e goal of creating an environment for participation, observation, and shared learning.

For more information and free registration, email Katy Brantley at
CDFW Potter Valley Elk Surveys
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will be conducting surveys to count elk in Potter Valley. This will likely take place this summer, and CDFW has asked the Mendocino County Farm Bureau (MCFB) to assist with coordination and outreach. The MCFB would like to begin a list of interested property owners now. To conduct these surveys, CDFW would drive the roads in Potter Valley and count any elk sighted and determine their age (adult or calf) and sex (male or female). These estimates will help modify existing tag quotas for elk harvest, which is the main tool used to manage elk populations in California.

Potter Valley includes a substantial amount of private land, and CDFW is needing to connect with landowners to conduct these surveys and get the best possible estimate of elk numbers. There are two ways landowners can grant CDFW permission: 1) they can sign an access agreement for elk surveys, or 2) they can escort CDFW staff on their property to conduct elk surveys. CDFW will also be wanting landowner advise on where to focus survey efforts leading up to the survey day. CDFW’s goal is to survey elk in a single day so they can get the best estimate without double counting animals. 

Contact Lindy Kersmarki with the Mendocino County Farm Bureau at if you would like to participate in these surveys. If you are outside of the Potter Valley area but are struggling with elk encounters, please contact Lindy as well so she has that information for future efforts.
Recent Events
Improving Rural Roads for Watershed Health Coastal Workshop
MCRCD and Pacific Watershed Associates hosted a free Road Improvement Workshop on December 12, 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, at the Lyme Redwood Conference Room in Fort Bragg. All 33 attendees received a copy of the Handbook for Forest, Ranch and Rural Roads (2015) and the Watershed Best Management Practices for Cannabis Growers and Other Rural Gardeners (2018), both available for free download at . Participants learned about progressive road design and maintenance strategies to reduce road-related erosion while protecting habitat for fish and wildlife. After a 2-hour classroom presentation, the group caravanned up to the Usal/South Fork Eel watersheds to review recent road improvements on Redwood Forest Foundation, Inc. property. The goal of road sediment reduction is to decrease runoff to streams within our coastal watersheds, with the added benefit of lower annual maintenance costs. The class and field tour were led by Colin Hughes, Engineering Geologist at Pacific Watershed Associates.
Workshops in Eel River Watershed to Improve Rural Roads and Protect Water Quality
Helpful Resources
CDFA Healthy Soils Program Funding Opportunity
Vineyard Soil Health Assessments
Erosion control and erosion prevention designed to protect a road, including its drainage structures and fills, from serious episodic erosion during large storms and from chronic erosion during intervening periods.

Photo: Note the small twig lodged across the culvert opening that can begin plugging the pipe during storm events. Note also the crushed culvert top that reduced capacity by at least 30%.
2019 in Review
Thank you for helping us conserve, protect, and restore wild and working landscapes to enhance the health of the water, soil, and forests in Mendocino County in 2019! Here are some of our highlights:
  • Russian River Cleanup 2019 had 152 volunteers, a new record for Ukiah, and removed 2,500 pounds of trash and recycling--1.25 tons!
  • MCRCD completed the Drought Response Outreach Program for Schools (DROPS) project at Ukiah High to install 16,000 square feet of rain gardens and bioretention basins that capture and clean a total of 4.5 million gallons of stormwater each year. MCRCD and Ukiah Unified School District received a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition from Rep. Jared Huffman’s office for the project.
  • MCRCD also completed a DROPS Stormwater Project at Anderson Valley Unified School District’s two campuses in Boonville. Filter basins, rain gardens, and 10,000 gallons of rainwater catchment were installed between the two school campuses. With just under 6,000 square feet of low impact development (LID) projects installed, this enables approximately 1.4 million gallons of stormwater to infiltrate into the soils per year.
  • MCRCD’s work revegetating 1.3 acres along Robinson Creek in Boonville with California native trees and shrubs reached success criteria by the Army Corps of Engineers. This project was funded by Caltrans as mitigation for impacts related to road improvements along highways 128 and 253. Two interpretive panels were also installed as part of the project. 
  • Through the forestry program, we provided forestry technical assistance for 77 landowners and presented on fuels reduction and forest health management at 4 workshops.
  • MCRCD facilitated the planting of over 105,000 conifer seedlings on 545 acres and preformed hazardous tree assessments around 50 homes within the Redwood Complex Fire footprint.
  • Through a California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Fisheries Restoration Grant Program, MCRCD and NRCS fenced out livestock on 1.25 miles of Big Rock Creek and provided an alternative water source for cattle to enhance fish habitat in the Eel River watershed near Laytonville.
  • MCRCD prepared a Mussel Prevention Plan for the Mill Creek Ponds in Talmage to meet CDFW program requirements to prevent infestation of exotic, invasive species in our fresh water lakes and ponds.
  • As part of a DWR funded project through the North Coast Resource Partnership, MCRCD completed fish passage barrier removal and riparian restoration in Denmark Creek, tributary to Anderson Creek in the Navarro Watershed. We removed invasive Arundo donax (Giant reed) at five sites and installed two willow brush mattresses along the Russian River in Ukiah.
  • We performed irrigation audits and water conservation upgrades on sports fields and ornamental landscapes on four school campuses and installed xeriscaping and a rainwater catchment system with students at Mendocino College.
  • A Sustainable Agricultural Land Conservation (SALC) Program grant was awarded in December, allowing the MCRCD to work alongside many stakeholders in the County over the next two years to protect valuable agricultural lands while also supporting sustainable housing development.
  • Mendocino County Fire Safe Council (MCFSC) Board of Directors hired a new Executive Director, Mr. Scott Cratty, starting a new chapter. Visit their website for more information regarding the MCFSC.
Willits News
The Willits Bypass Mitigation lands 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 2019 in Review
  • North Coast Semaphore Grass maintenance and enhancement: mowing shrubbery, clearing ground debris and burn piles, and planting harvested seeds
  • Invasive plant control: treatments include mowing, hand pulling, and tarping
  • Install wildlife friendly fencing/elk crossings
  • Upgrades to the wells and water distribution systems in preparation for future PSPS
  • Install fencing to protect ash and oak plantings/weekly watering
  • Secure and retrofit troughs with wildlife escape ramps
  • Trash removal throughout project
  • Review wildlife camera footage and document wildlife habits and movements
MCRCD continues to promote environmental education, develop relationships with local schools, and recruit volunteers from the community. Our regular tours continued in 2019 with a total of 20 tours and 143 participants. Local schools also became involved, with two high school classes and one college class visiting the project. The students toured the mitigation lands as part of their coursework in biology, agriculture, and environmental restoration. The Peace and Environmental Club from the Willits High School also visited the site and participated in a bird survey tour. Our public tours focused on the elk population, wildlife biology, birds, wildflowers, and stream ecology. MCRCD organized a tour focused on grasses and wetland plants with participants from several agencies and organizations. A local radio station conducted an interview while touring the site and it was aired in the news the following week. A couple of volunteers helped with constructing and installing nesting boxes for Wood ducks, Western bluebirds, Tree swallows and Violet-green swallows.

MCRCD plans on expanding our education and outreach program in 2020. The staff interpreter has been meeting with local teachers in the elementary school and has begun planning a curriculum to bring students from grades K-8 out to participate in the scientific process of inquiry and exploration. The entire 3 rd grade class is planning to visit in February of this year and we are looking forward to many people being involved with this. The focus will be on the characteristics of oak woodland habitats, created wetland habitats, and the open grassland and rangeland habitats.
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