July E-News
Thank You!
A huge thank you to everyone who chose to invest in the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation with a donation this spring! Your gift makes you a member of the only non-profit organization singularly dedicated to the restoration, conservation, and stewardship of the Laguna de Santa Rosa and the only nonprofit organization dedicated to teaching children about its tremendous value to our quality of life in Sonoma County.

We truly appreciate your involvement and support!

If you’ve yet to make a gift and would like to do so, please don’t waste another moment before donating.
Your investment will be used to care for and enhance the natural lands of Sonoma County that we all cherish.

A special note of thanks to Anderson Zeigler Law Firm who underwrote the cost of this year’s spring appeal letter. (To read the full spring appeal letter, click here.)
Restoring the Pygmy Forest on Hood Mountain
Sonoma County Regional Parks and the Laguna Foundation are working together to restore the unique pygmy forest found in the serpentine soils at Hood Mountain Regional Park. The minerals in serpentine soils create a particularly challenging growing environment for plants; many species cannot grow at all in this soil and those that are able to adapt must tolerate extreme conditions such as low amounts of calcium and high amounts of magnesium. These conditions often result in stunted growth such as seen in the forest’s Sargent’s cypress. One advantage to this soil type is that while a diverse mix of native species have evolved to tolerate the conditions, non-native species have not been able to invade it.
 
In 2017, the Nuns Fire went through the pygmy forest. Well-adapted to fire, it was heartening to see the native plants reemerging almost immediately. The exception to this regrowth was in the bulldozer lines created to stop the fire. Regional Parks applied for and was granted FEMA money to restore native plants to these now barren 30 acres of land, but before restoration could occur the Glass Fire swept through the park in 2020 causing even more damage. Fortunately, between the fires we had been collecting seeds to use in the bulldozer line restoration. The seeds have now grown into seedlings and we will be able to plant them to help control erosion, providing the necessary care to ensure they get established after two fires in such a short time.
 
To give the plants the best possible chance at taking root for the long term, this section of the park has not reopened. However, when it does, as you hike up the Pythian Road entrance toward the summit, be sure to be on the lookout for the native trees and flowers making a comeback!
Working Toward Racial Equity
It’s been a little more than a year since we began a conscious, thoughtful journey towards transforming into a more equitable and inclusive organization that fully represents, includes, and is led by the diverse communities, perspectives, and experiences of all people living within the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed. We have been progressing intentionally and deliberately as we explore the deep and complex history of systemic racism and inequality in our country and in the environmental field. Our staff and board have engaged in learning and conversation by reading together Isabel Wilkerson’s scholarly book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent. We have now implemented small but important changes in our practices and programs, and we have more work in front of us.
Today we are thrilled to announce one very deliberate step forward! The Laguna Foundation has been selected to participate in Working Toward Racial Equity, a new workshop series starting this fall co-hosted by UC Berkeley Lawrence Hall of Science and Justice Outside (formerly Youth Outside) to support environmental and outdoor science organizations in building capacity to foster equitable, inclusive, and culturally relevant work environments and organizations. We are extremely honored to be one of 10 organizations selected from 40 applications received from across the country. We will be joining nine other organizations (including our partners at Audubon Canyon Ranch!) that range in location, size, and programming including outdoor learning, environmental justice, environmental science, environmental literacy, youth development, and community development. Participating organizations will engage in a five-month series of intensive workshops, and then receive ongoing assistance and support from the co-hosts for another 19 months, for a total of two years of support. The workshop series is organized into two strands: one focused on organizational systems change and one focused on supporting professionals of color at participating organizations. Our own team will include both staff and board members.
 
With the expert guidance and momentum from participating in the Working Toward Racial Equity workshop series, we are excited to further advance our efforts to make a positive, long-lasting impact on the communities throughout the Laguna de Santa Rosa watershed.
Events
"A Salute to the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation" Watercolors by Julianne Sooley
Gallery is open by appointment every Friday 9:00am-12:00pm
Location: Laguna Environmental Center
Schedule an appointment by contacting Maggie Hart.
 
In this tribute to the Laguna Foundation, Julianne has captured the color, shape and texture of the Laguna environs. Her 25+ paintings and pyrography (wood burning) focus on the line, shape and style of the physical property. Virtual Gallery of all paintings and pyrography: laguna.julieswatercolors.com

Grazing Sheep Supporting Native Plants
The sheep are back along the Laguna de Santa Rosa Trail doing the hard work of protecting vernal pool plants from grass thatch. To say that the dry weather this winter was hard on the Sebastopol meadowfoam throughout the Santa Rosa Plain would be an understatement, but thanks to the sheep and the continued efforts of Laguna staff members and volunteers, the population along the trail managed to hang on! The plants were smaller and much less visible but they were there, flowering and making seed for next year.
 
The sheep started grazing this site a little earlier this year as an experimental attempt to control the invasive pepperweed and curly dock without the use of herbicide. We started grazing earlier than typical to see if the grass would be more palatable, and we will continue to work with Sonoma County Regional Parks to determine the best timing and intensity of grazing in order to preserve the sensitive vernal pool species. With our successes thus far, we believe that are headed in the right direction and look forward to exploring different management strategies to help ensure the best possible outcomes!
Outdoor Classroom Gets Boost from Rotary
We are incredibly grateful to the Rotary Club of Sebastopol for providing a generous grant to help maintain and improve our native plant demonstration garden at the Laguna Environmental Center. This funding allowed us to purchase effective trail maintenance tools and proper plant ID signage. Our volunteers are accomplishing more with these new tools and our visitors are learning more about native plants with this new signage!

We purchased high-quality, cordless, battery operated power tools (string trimmer, blower and hedger) plus all the safety gear to accompany these tools. These power tools are lighter and easier to operate than gas powered tools. As an added bonus, the two batteries are rechargeable and interchangeable. We also purchased long-lasting, compact and comfortable pruning shears. These pruners have replaceable parts and are the strongest and sharpest steel blades in the market. They are truly meant to last a lifetime!
 
Sebastopol Rotary Club funding also allowed us to purchase weatherproof, durable, plant identification signs for 80 species of native plants. These solid metal signs have a 15-year guarantee and can accommodate two lines of text, so we will share both the common plant name and its corresponding scientific name. These signs educate visitors and help them identify native plants that would be appropriate for their home landscaping.
 
Thank you, Rotary Club of Sebastopol for your ongoing support of our “outdoor classroom” at the Laguna Environmental Center!