eNewsletter| August Edition
In this month's edition:

  • Vineyard BMP implementation in Sonoma Creek forging ahead
  • Welcome Shannon!
  • Russian River Coho Partnership NEW website
  • Tillage in the news
  • Team Spotlight: Kari Wester, Project Manager
  • August 27: Range Tailgate: cows, compost and carbon
What's New at Your RCD
Sonoma Creek vineyard BMP implementation forging ahead
The Sonoma RCD has just wrapped up a large On-the-Ground implementation project that took place on four, privately-owned vineyard properties in the Sonoma Creek Watershed. The project was funded through a combination of grants from the California State Coastal Conservancy (Prop 1 program) and State Water Resources Control Board (319h Program), as well as through cost share from the four vineyard property owners. This project set out to implement practices that would reduce erosion and sedimentation, slow, spread and sink stormwater, enhance habitat, conserve water, and improve drought and climate change resilience. These practices were originally identified through LandSmart® Plans and irrigation system evaluations, both of which are comprehensive processes designed to identify and prioritize conservation needs within an agricultural property. After the wildfires of 2017, the RCD worked with impacted landowners to update their planned practices in order to address new site conditions. LandSmart On-the-Ground builds upon these planning efforts to implement multi-benefit projects to attain productive lands and thriving streams across the landscape.

With the completion of the project, the RCD and its subcontractors have implemented a total of 82 structural and vegetative best management practices (BMPs) at the four vineyard properties. The BMPs milestones include:

  • Over 2.5 miles of unsurfaced roads improved and disconnected from stream crossings through outsloping and the installation of 52 rolling dips.
  • 6 stream crossings storm-proofed and upgraded to handle the 100 year storm event.
  • 575 feet of waterway treated for erosion and revegetated with native grasses.
  • 2 eroding gullies stabilized with grade stabilizations structures.
  • Over 4,000 dysfunctional drip emitters replaced and 2 water meters installed for improved irrigation efficiency and tracking.
  • 2 years of service on two different vineyards using Tule Technologies and SmartWater systems for improved irrigation scheduling and water conservation.
Welcome Shannon!
We are excited to welcome Shannon Drew to our team! Shannon joins the RCD as our Program Assistant, working alongside other staff to provide support for all RCD program areas, in pursuit of multiple resource goals such as water quality, drought and fire resilience, soil heath, and climate-beneficial farming.

Shannon is a recent graduate of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo completing her degree in Biologic Sciences with a minor in Spanish. While in school, she was a research assistant working on projects funded by the Department of Energy and collaborated with scientists and her peers in the Agricultural Research Institute studying biological treatment of dairy wastewater. She is a Sonoma County local and was previously a Land Stewardship Intern with Sonoma Ag + Open Space. Shannon was born and raised in Santa Rosa.
Russian River Coho Partnership has a NEW website
Last month, the Russian River Coho Partnership launched a new website brimming with projects benefiting salmonid populations and additional resources for landowners. Since 2009,The Partnership has been dedicated to providing long-term water reliability solutions in the Russian River watershed for communities and the environment. In order to improve streamflow and water supply reliability the Partnership selected five key tributaries of the Russian River for their importance to coho recovery:  Dutch Bill Creek Green Valley Creek Mark West Creek Mill Creek , and  Grape Creek . The Partnership relies on grant  funding  for all operating and project/monitoring costs.

The Partnership consists of Sonoma and Gold Ridge RCDs, California Sea Grant’s Russian River  Salmon and Steelhead Monitoring Program  (CSG), Trout Unlimited, Occidental Arts and Ecology Center’s (OAEC) Watershed Advocacy, Training, Education, & Research ( WATER ) Institute, with funding support from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Sonoma Water. Visit us here http://cohopartnership.org/
In the news... The Spill: To till or not to till

"Some may think that a bottle of delicious wine starts with a knowledgeable, experienced winemaker using expertly grown wine grapes. That may be part of the equation, but ask the winemaker and the answer is that yummy wine starts in the vineyard; more specifically the soil.

“You can’t make great wine without healthy soil,” said Julie Cooper, associate winemaker for DuMol in Healdsburg. “It’s vital.”

Cooper was among about 40 people – winemakers, vineyard managers, farmers and soil geeks – filing through rows of grapevines at MacLeod Family Vineyard in Kenwood during a soil tillage management workshop sponsored by Sonoma Resource Conservation District (RCD) on June 19.

The vineyard at the Indian Springs Ranch is the site of a two-year experiment in soil moisture and health being conducted by Keith Abeles, water resources specialist at RCD, Josh Beniston, soil scientist and agriculture program coordinator at Santa Rosa Junior College, viticulturist Mark Greenspan, president of Advanced Viticulture in Windsor, and John MacLeod, owner of the vineyard." See the full article here!
Team spotlight
Meet Kari Wester, Project Manager.

Kari has been with the RCD for six and a half years. As one of our Project Managers, she leads LandSmart Planning and Carbon Farm Planning on rangeland, equine, dairy, and confined animal properties. "We joke that my role as Project Manager is working with poop because I work mostly with landowners who manage livestock," she said laughingly.

"My favorite part of my job is being able to meet new people and have the opportunity to get out and explore some of the great and multi-generational agricultural properties we have in Sonoma County" she continued. 

When asked how she found this line of work, she shared "the worst grade I ever got in college was in my first introduction to environmental science class. You would have thought that I didn't like it, but weirdly enough it was the most interesting and thought-provoking class I ever took and sent me on the path to where I am today that includes a Masters of Science in Environmental Management."

Something that you might not know about Kari is that she is originally from the South, and while she doesn't have an accent, she does love boiled peanuts and fried okra. She didn't grow up in agriculture, but today enjoys living on a dairy. In her free time she enjoys traveling, gardening, tending to her chickens, yoga and hiking!

Community Engagement
Attention: Funding available to assist fire-impacted properties!
Grant funds are available for projects that reduce erosion and water quality concerns in fire-impacted areas of Sonoma County. See our Fire Recovery and Resiliency page on our website for full details and how to apply!

Potentially fundable projects include:   
  • Replacement of burned culverts
  • Unsurfaced Road improvements (ditch relief culverts, road reshaping/ outsloping, rolling dips)
  • Removal of invasive plants and revegetating with native plants along burned riparian areas
  • Streambank stabilization/restoration
  • Upland gully or headcut repair
  • Revegetating sensitive/erosion-prone areas
  • Cross-fence replacement
  • Installation of livestock riparian fencing

Funding for this project has been provided in full or in part by the USEPA and the State Water Board under the Federal NonpoinySource Pollution Control Program (CWA Section 319).
Passionate about oaks?
Are you interested in planting native oak trees at your property, or know someone that might be? Do you have a good site to collect acorns this fall? We are working to identify sites in the Petaluma River, Russian River, and Sonoma Creek watersheds to plant oak woodland plants. Of greatest interest are locations that lost oaks in the fires of 2017 or see historical oak woodland habitat diminishing. We are evaluating sites of various sizes to accommodate plantings: from a few trees to larger properties that could home more than a hundred trees!

Please email Keith Abeles at kabeles@sonomarcd.org or call 707-569-1448 xtn 112 to let us know about potential sites or discuss the program further.
Events & Workshops
Range Tailgate: cows, compost and carbon happening August 27
Tuesday, August 27
9:00 am – 11:30 am
Address provided to registrants only

Sonoma RCD and  Sonoma Mountain Institute  invite ranchers and prospective ranchers to come learn the latest findings from their Healthy Soils Demonstration Project. This demonstration field trail started in 2018 on a private 300-acre ranch owned by the Sonoma Mountain Institute, is looking at how compost application influences soil health and forage productivity on a working rangeland. This tailgate will include a discussion on the comparison of our baseline vs year 1 soil samples on both treatment and control plots as well as a discussion of practice adoption pros and cons from the ranch manager. We’ll also hear from professionals on how to determine the best type of compost for your ranch.

A more detailed agenda will be posted on our website in the coming weeks. Please don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about boosting soil health on your own ranch! Visit our website for the latest event details here:   https://sonomarcd.org/get-involved/

Workshop questions?  Contact project manager, Kari Wester at  kwester@sonomarcd.org  or (707) 569-1448 ext. 101

The 2017 Healthy Soils Demonstration Project is funded by the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Funds and is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing GHG emissions, strengthening the economy, and improving public health and the environment.

Attend a technical workshop to receive the latest science-based information on how to best manage your soil, water and wildlife on
your property.
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