Mendocino County RCD News & Updates
January snow in Little Lake Valley -Chris Bartow
In the Winter 2020/2021 Newsletter:
Oak titmouse (Baeolophus inornatus)
-Marisela de Santa Anna
  • Upcoming Opportunities and Events
  • Fibershed Cohort in Mendocino County
  • Eel River Watershed Presentation
  • Willits News
  • MCRCD Staff Highlight
Upcoming Opportunities and Events
North Coast Soil Hub Virtual Symposium
The North Coast Soil Hub’s fourth annual Soil Health Symposium, March 11-12, 2021, will bring together growers, land and vineyard managers, scientists, agency representatives, and others to provide an overview of soil health in our region. Topics will include potential climate change impacts and solutions, cutting-edge practices, and the latest data from the field.
DAY 1: March 11, 8:30am-12pm - Climate Change and Soil Health
The first day will focus on global and regional climate impacts and solutions tied to soil health, as well as an overview of the North Coast Soil Hub project.
DAY 2: March 12, 8:30am-12pm - Shop Talk: Soil Health in the Field
The second day 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 how soil health factors into a business’ economics and marketing.
Williamson Act and Conservation Easements Webinars
The Mendocino County Sustainable Agricultural Lands Conservation (SALC) Committee will be hosting virtual webinars in February and March 2021 to explain the Williamson Act and conservation easements. The Committee includes representatives from MCRCD, the Mendocino County (MC) Department of Agriculture, MC Farm Bureau, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, MC Local Agency Formation Commission, Mendocino Land Trust, Inland Mendocino Land Trust, Anderson Valley Land Trust, and the MC Board of Supervisors.

SALC is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment, particularly in disadvantaged communities. For more information, visit California Climate Investments.
CDFA Public Meetings on Climate Change Solutions
The California Department of Food and Agriculture will hold stakeholder meetings in February to solicit feedback from the public and agricultural stakeholders on climate change solutions that sequester carbon, reduce greenhouse gases, and enhance biodiversity. These public meetings respond to Governor Gavin Newsom’s Executive Order N-82-20, which calls upon CDFA and other agencies to “identify and implement near- and long-term actions to accelerate natural removal of carbon and build climate resilience.” The collected information will contribute to ongoing and future work on the Natural and Working Lands Climate Smart Strategy, and in turn inform the next update of the California AB 32 and SB 32 Scoping Plan.

If you have questions regarding these meetings, please contact CDFA’s Office of Environmental Farming and Innovation at
Fibershed Cohort in Mendocino County
Grazing, sheep rearing, and fiber production have a long history in Mendocino County. Today, places like Mendocino Wool and Fiber Festival, Pacific Textile Arts, Mendocino Arts Center, Mendocino Wool and Fiber, Inc., and now Fibershed are helping keep these traditions alive. Sheep are still utilized for grazing, fiber, and meat by land stewards such as Peggy Agnew of Red Creek Farm, Blaire AuClair of Radicle Herbs, Gowan Batist of Fortunate Farm, Sophia Bates of Pennyroyal and Navarro Vineyards, and Ruthie King of New Agrarian Collective. Hopland Research and Extension Center maintains a flock, shepherded by Alison Smith, and hosts a sheep-shearing school every year as part of its education mission. Fibershed has brought all these fiber producers together in a Carbon Farm Cohort, in partnership with MCRCD. MCRCD is excited to help facilitate the Mendocino County Carbon Farm Cohort with Fibershed, as staff not only get to help develop carbon farm plans for each member, but they also support fiber producers with best management strategies for their land, facilitate business-oriented discussions, and make essential connections to enhance the producer network. What is starting as a smaller cohort group will hopefully grow into a strong web of enterprises all contributing to a Mendocino County Fibershed.

Local animal husbandry and fiber production play critical roles in conserving working landscapes to enhance the health of the water and soils in Mendocino County which are essential aspects of MCRCD’s mission. By assisting these fiber producers with developing conservation plans based on carbon beneficial practices, such as planned grazing, applying compost, or installing a hedgerow or a windbreak, MCRCD and Fibershed can help ranchers and farmers link their products directly to environmentally beneficial outcomes. Through this cohort and its eventual expansion, MCRCD hopes that Mendocino County will be a model for how to produce local food and fiber while also protecting our incredible natural resources.
Eel River Watershed Presentation
Joe Scriven, MCRCD's Assistant Executive Director and Fisheries Biologist, shared a summary of the many ongoing projects within the Eel River Watershed with the South Ukiah Rotary Club this week:
  • MCRCD is managing the Eel River Road Sediment Reduction and Inventory Project, which includes storm-proofing at least 6.5 miles of unpaved roads, assessing at least 30 miles of road, and hosting roads workshops in Willits, Covelo, and Laytonville. A fourth workshop in Piercy has been postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
  • We have been helping Trout Unlimited for two years work with landowners in the Outlet Creek basin to develop projects which will enhance summer streamflow conditions. These projects often involve a storage and forbearance component which enhances summer water security for participating landowners.
  • MCRCD is developing a project with Redwood Forest Foundation, Inc. and Bureau of Land Management to implement a strategic forest fuels reduction project on a large scale in the northern part of the county.
  • MCRCD’s Soil Health Program is part of the North Coast Soil Hub, which implements Soil Health Assessments throughout the county. Participation in the CDFA Healthy Soils Program and a Sustainable Ag Lands Conservation Project provides additional opportunities for MCRCD to support local farmers and ranchers.
Willits 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. 
On Tuesday, January 26, the forecast of rain turning to snow by evening became a reality, and as the flakes continued to fall, the snow got deeper. At around 9 pm, the sound of limbs and trees crashing to the ground filled the air with a dissident symphony. Snap--crash--boom--snap--crash--boom on and on through the night. In the morning, the snow covered the hills and a white blanket laid out on the valley floor. We found out the electricity was out for most of the outlying areas as it was for all the staff at the Willits MCRCD office. Luckily, the office still had heat and electricity. Up in the Pine Mountain subdivision, there were areas of roads where upwards of 300 trees had fallen. This was one of those 25- or 50-year storms. The town was full of PG&E crews from all over the state within a day. North of the Willits High School there was a power pole snapped in half, with power lines nearly on the ground. It was one of many power poles downed by the heavy snow-covered trees. By Monday, February 1, one of the Willits staff finally had power back. That was progress.

Meanwhile, the Tule elk that live on the Little Lake Valley Conservation Lands were going about their business, laying low after the storm the evening before. This drone footage shows them resting and eating, not bothered at all by the snow that is all around them. Their thick winter coats give them the ability to live and thrive in wetlands and inclement weather. They do not mind the cold or the wet times. Quiet and peace surround them.

-Marisela de Santa Anna
MCRCD Staff Updates
Congratulations to Patty Madigan, 20 Years with MCRCD!
Patty Madigan joined MCRCD in January 2001 after serving as Program Director for the AmeriCorps Watershed Project. Over the last 20 years, Patty has developed grant proposals bringing in over $6 million of state and federal funds for local watershed restoration projects. Working closely with NRCS, she was instrumental in launching coordinated programs to streamline permitting for restoration practices, beginning with the Navarro Watershed Permit Coordination Program in 2003 and then the Mendocino County Permit Coordination Program in 2012.

Patty assisted MCRCD with all preliminary negotiations to develop a pathway for MCRCD to manage mitigation properties, including the Willits Bypass Mitigation Lands. She studied Planned Grazing with Holistic Management International through a Western SARE grant from 2014 through 2016. She also set up professional development opportunities for resource professionals, including Accelerated Recruitment of Large Wood in Coastal Streams, Progressive Road Design and Maintenance, and Electrofishing: Principles and Practices. In 2016, Patty co-led organization and facilitation of Strategic Planning for both Gold Ridge RCD and MCRCD.

Since 2016, Patty has assisted MCRCD with developing a Navarro Watershed Flow Enhancement Program in coordination with The Nature Conservancy and Trout Unlimited. To date, approximately $1.4 million has been secured through Wildlife Conservation Board funding for that program. Patty helped to secure almost $2 million in funds for Big River and other coastal watersheds to stormproof unimproved roads to support water quality and salmonid habitat restoration.
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