November E-News
Season of Gratitude
Each year, many birds return to the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed as their safe harbor for the winter. We work throughout the year to ensure that this ecosystem is also a safe harbor for you, protecting us from drought, wildfire, floods, and the overall weather whiplash we now experience. As we approach 2023, we’re filled with anticipation of a new year, and like the migrating birds, we’re spreading our wings and taking flight—grateful for you, our strong community who understands the value of the work, and stands beside us in our efforts to restore imperiled habitats, and inspire others to care for the Laguna de Santa Rosa.
Over the next several weeks, watch your inbox for exciting details of a year-end $150,000 Challenge Match. Several long-time donors have stepped in to build a challenge match to further the critical goals that lay in front of us. If you’re in a position to make a gift this year, know that your gift today will help us soar even higher as it is doubled dollar-for-dollar up to $150,000.
Share Your Passion for Nature as a Learning Laguna Docent!
Learning Laguna Docent Training is back! We are happy to say that plans are underway for the revival of our educator docent training program in early 2023. Classes start February 13th. If you’ve ever thought about becoming a docent, or simply love nature and children, consider becoming a docent and making a valuable impact on the next generation!
Our Learning Laguna school program for 3rd graders is going strong, now in its 23rd year! Docents are currently visiting classrooms throughout the watershed, and leading field trips to the Laguna de Santa Rosa for hands-on outdoor experiential learning. Teacher demand for the program remains as high as ever. With more volunteers like you, we can serve every classroom that comes to us requesting this valuable opportunity!

To read all about the role of the Learning Laguna docent, click here.
Learning Laguna helps classroom teachers meet their curriculum goals, and provides a real-life context to their lessons. One teacher recently told us “The kids had an amazing time and learned so much. Great to see the things we have been learning about in a hands-on setting! And for the kids to hear it from others besides myself!” In Learning Laguna, students learn about their home watershed and the plants, animals, land and water we share. Plus, we get to have joy and fun in the process – the kids, teachers AND docents!
No teaching experience is necessary to become a docent. We will train you in a series of in-person, engaging classes, discussions and guided practice. Make plans now to join this special community dedicated to the children and the future of the Laguna de Santa Rosa. Click here to review the docent training schedule.
Join us… You will be glad you did!
Supporting Endangered Species
with Native Plant Nursery Expansion
This has been an exciting time for our native plant nursery. We are growing more plants than ever for our own projects, and on a contract basis for our partners.
This last year we sold more than 10,000 plants including 3,000 violas for Salt Point State Park and 1,500 narrow leafed milkweed for restoration projects throughout Sonoma County.
We built a hoop house this winter for our vernal pool seed amplification work and produced tens of thousands of Sonoma Sunshine seed, and millions of Burke’s goldfield seeds, as part of our work to expand healthy populations of these endangered species. We will be planting these seeds in places where we know these plants once thrived, including Sonoma Valley Regional Park.
We also worked with our long-time nursery partners, the Milo Baker Chapter of the California Native Plant Society and two long-time donors to expand our nursery. Over the last four years we have learned some important lessons. We need more space in the direct sun to keep the wide range of species that we grow happy and to toughen up our young plants and get them ready to plant out in the field. We also need more quarantine space to carefully test plant material that we take from the field before introducing it to our clean nursery. Finally, we have learned important lessons about how to best use our irrigation system. This new expansion will let us fine-tune our nursery to incorporate these lessons and be even more successful in the future.

We also started selling our locally sourced native plants directly to our friends and supporters. Our first plant sale was for volunteers and supporters this spring, and then the California Native Plant Society allowed us to sell a few of our plants at their annual fall sale. While our plants are more restoration focused than horticultural and are not as showy as the amazing native plants the Native Plant Society sells, there was enough interest that we will keep growing a portion of our plants to sell to the public.
Ayla Mills, our nursery manager, is also running Volunteer Days. If you are interested in learning more about how our nursery works and helping out, reach out to Ayla for upcoming dates.
For the Love of Native Plants
For the past several years, the Laguna Foundation has co-hosted a native plant sale with the Milo Baker Chapter of the California Native Plant Society (CNPS). Last year’s plant sale had 300 attendees. This year we hosted 500 plant enthusiasts, and we were ready for the crowd! Parking went smoothly, and while check-out was a lengthy line at times, this only meant that people found treasures they were excited about taking home, and the line always moved at a steady pace. The day ended with almost every single plant sold. A win for all the people that love California native plants and a win for local wildlife-birds, bees, butterflies and more-that depends on native plants!
We are incredibly grateful for our ongoing partnership with CNPS as well as 40+ volunteers that make this plant sale possible. Proceeds from the sale will benefit both organizations and our collective mission to restore and conserve the native habitats of our region.
Also at the plant sale, CNPS released their newest book, “Sonoma County Native Plant Gardener - How to Get Started”! This delightful and colorful new 40-page booklet offers helpful resources and user-friendly appendices full of suggestions and information. We have a limited supply of these books in our Gift Shop ($20 each). Purchases can be made online here with shipping charges added, or you can make an appointment to visit our gallery and gift shop by emailing us. These books will make great gifts for your native plant-loving family and friends!
Thank you to our community for your excitement and support. Happy fall planting! Also, please stay tuned for our spring plant sale in May.
Behind-the-Scenes Tour of Gravenstein Creek Restoration Project
At the end of September, we hosted a special tour of our multi-year restoration project along Gravenstein Creek. This unique tour was designed specifically for Education Volunteers, including Learning Laguna Docents, Guides and Greeters, and our Board of Directors.
Gravenstein Creek is a seasonal creek that crosses the City of Santa Rosa's Brown Farm traveling west towards Sebastopol and its confluence with the Laguna de Santa Rosa’s main channel. The Farm is not open to the public, so the tour was an extra-special experience. The closest many before had ever been to the site was to look south from the Joe Rodota Regional Trail to see the growing tree line along the creek.
We started our restoration work on Gravenstein Creek with a small project in 2012, planting trees and shrubs near the Joe Rodota Regional Trail. We are currently working on a large project that started in 2016, planting over 4,000 native trees, shrubs, grasses, sedges, and understory plants to form a 100-foot-wide vegetated buffer on both sides of Gravenstein Creek, adding a full 10 acres of riparian forest! The surrounding fields support the City's leased hay farming operations that use reclaimed water from the Laguna Treatment Plant. The plants in the riparian buffer will uptake nutrients from the reclaimed water, while also filtering runoff, creating shade to keep the creek water cool for native fish, and providing important corridors for wildlife movement.
Birding Bonanza!
We enjoyed last month’s collaboration with Point Blue Conservation Science as we co-hosted a beginner bird walk at the Laguna Environmental Center. This walk was part of Point Blue’s 44th Annual Rich Stallcup Bird-A-Thon, the country’s longest-running that honors Rich Stallcup, a Bay Area ornithologist who co-founded Point Reyes Bird Observatory (now Point Blue) in the late 1960s and educated countless fledgling birders and naturalists through the years. Our small but passionate group of six birders that made up Team Green Heron ranged from birding beginners to life-long enthusiasts. We counted 35 species of birds on a 1.5-mile route through the grasslands and riparian forest along Irwin Creek to its confluence with the Laguna de Santa Rosa. The abundance and diversity of birds demonstrate the positive impact of restoring some 20 acres of habitat along Irwin Creek by the Laguna Foundation and the City of Santa Rosa. We look forward to hosting a team again next year to help connect people to nature and support our partners in conservation!
Vernal Pool Stewardship Day at Earle Baum Center of the Blind
Saturday, November 5th, 2022. 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
Location: Earle Baum Center of the Blind, 4539 Occidental Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
We are deep into Autumn and can't think of a better time to bring you all out to help us put some plants into the ground, and help the monarch butterfly population at the same time! At this particular location we will be clipping blackberry, planting native hedgerow to act as wildlife habitat, and planting the monarch diet-staple, milkweed!
Celebrating Fall with Nature Journaling
4 Week Session Workshop with Angela Zocco Sturr
Three Saturdays in November: 5th, 12th, 19th, and Saturday, December 3rd, 2022. 10:00 am – 11:30 am
Location: Laguna Environmental Center and Laguna Uplands Preserve
Slow down and refresh your spirit by spending time in nature. See the world with new eyes and discover the richness that is the Laguna de Santa Rosa. Engage all your senses to create colorful journal pages using words and watercolor. Topics of interest will be bird migration, adaptations for survival, and the water cycle.
History of Natural Disasters in the Laguna Watershed
Zoom Presentation with Nicole Myers, Sonoma State University
Wednesday, November 9th, 2022. 5:00 pm – 6:30 pm
FREE (suggested donation $5 – $15). Pre-registration is required.
The geology of the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed has been shaped by time and geologic events. Some events cause significant change in a short period of time, and are disastrous for the people who call the region home. Active faults give the Laguna its shape and topography, and the shape of the land controls how water and air flow through the region as global climate changes.
Holiday Hours
The Laguna Environmental Center remains open by appointment to see the gallery and grounds during the weekdays, by contacting Maggie Hart.
We will be closed on Thursday, November 24th and Friday, November 25th to observe the Thanksgiving Holiday. We hope to see you soon!